Updated: Nov 12
It's been a tough couple of years for students, and even though we're well into the current school year, some students may not be quite at the developmental place that educators expect. The challenge is how to truly meet every student where they are to continue their progress.
Here are four strategies that elementary teachers may find useful in taking on student stress as a challenge and bridging any learning loss that students may still be managing.
1) Connect with your kids: Teachers should make sure to connect with each student as an individual—not just by name or grade level—and ask about anything from personal interests to goals for the future. This way, you can get a better idea of what motivates them, which will help you understand why they may be struggling.
2) Maintain a growth mindset: Rather than thinking of students as failures, educators should consider them as growing learners eager to learn what they need to succeed. Sometimes the lack of success is due to no fault of their own—they don't have access at home or school, or they lack support—so educators should be aware of this when assigning tasks.
3) Keep them challenged: Make sure to keep students engaged in challenging tasks that are slightly out of their reach but still achievable with guidance and support. That way, they'll be able to gain self-confidence while learning new skills. Remember, no one learner sees all of the steps from beginning to end. So they need to be supported and guided throughout their journey, including identifying where they might need help next.
4) Encourage collaboration: Collaboration is an excellent way for students of different ages or skill levels to learn from each other while enhancing social skills. In addition, research shows that children are more likely to grasp new concepts in a collaborative environment.
Reducing Student Stress
As a teacher, you want to help your students reduce stress and anxiety. But unfortunately, the pandemic has created a great deal of stress and anxiety for students of all backgrounds. In addition, all students who have experienced home stress due to family separation, job loss, loss of a family member, or isolation from friends have heightened stress levels.
Many children come to school with past stress and trauma that affect their ability to focus and learn. Teachers need to be aware of this. They should reduce student stress by offering students a safe place to learn, reinforcing positive behavior, and rewarding students for good choices.
The good news is that there are several things you can do right now to help your students cope with the stress they face every day.
Help kids feel safe
Be sure that students know their teachers are on their side—that you truly want them to succeed. Kids who feel supported at home and school are less likely to act out or misbehave. That's why teachers need to involve families in decision making whenever possible and make sure that all students know the rules.
Teachers should set expectations and boundaries because this gives kids structure and reduces anxiety. When these tools are used effectively, students can see that teachers care about their behavior and actions.
In addition to setting boundaries, teachers should create a classroom environment that supports positive relationships with each student. This means working toward building strong connections with students from the first day of school, supporting them as they work through challenging moments, and finding ways to make everyone feel safe and connected.
When students have a clear sense of their work and school goals, they feel less stressed. Before the year begins, teachers should sit down with each student and create personal learning plans (PLPs). These personalized roadmaps give students a chance to see exactly what outcomes they will achieve in a class by the end of the year.
Although it can't always be helped, some students struggle with having the resources they need to be engaged learners. This includes not only supplies, proper meals, and time to complete their work, but also transportation to and from school.
Teachers must remember that students aren't to blame when they're having trouble. To be their best in the classroom, teachers should make sure they have what they need at home. Don't forget—you might be able to help them with these requirements by simply connecting them to services. School districts already have an abundance of resources they can share if they just know who needs them.
How can elementary school teachers help their students reduce stress?
Here are six ideas:
Let students talk about their feelings and concerns.
Help them develop a sense of control over their lives.
Teach them relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga.
Encourage them to get regular exercise and plenty of sleep.
Provide opportunities for fun and laughter in the classroom.
Promote positive social connections with classmates and adults at school
Increase engagement strategies through stories
High engagement can provide a distraction from stress for students. When students are focused on the task at hand, they can block out distractions and focus better. This improved focus can lead to a decrease in stress levels. Additionally, when students are engaged in their work, they often enjoy it more and find it less stressful.
Using stories can help connect students to the content they are learning. For example, teachers can share a story from their lives that relates to the material they're teaching. Students love hearing these types of stories because they feel like the teacher is really talking with them and getting to know them as individuals.
Stories have a powerful place in the brain. Stories help students connect new ideas to information they already know. They also provide context, which helps the brain better understand and retain new concepts.
Teachers can capitalize on that to engage students and enhance their learning by using stories in the classroom. Telling stories, writing stories, acting out stories, and integrating storytelling into other activities all can reduce stress in the classroom.
What strategies do you use to help your students reduce stress? Please share your thoughts in a comment below.
Integrate stories in subjects like history and science more interesting and relatable.
If you're looking for ways to help your students reduce stress, look no further. We've outlined six easy ideas that teachers can use in their classrooms. From letting students talk about their feelings to using stories to engage them in learning, these strategies will help your students feel more relaxed and focused. So why wait? Start implementing them today!
Thank you for reading our blog post on reducing student stress. We hope you found it helpful. If you have any ideas to add, please share them in a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!