Monday, April 22, 2013

Stressed Out Students: Rethinking Pace And Expectations

Source: Daily Infographic
(click for detail)
In addition to fêting poetry and financial literacy, April also honors Stress Awareness Month. In our classrooms, we notice more and more that stress can be debilitating for students. In fact, we spent much of our transition night a few weeks ago trying to assuage families' apprehensions as their children get ready for middle school.

News outlets have reported that in higher education, stress levels are at an all-time peak. Students across the board may actually be more anxious now than during the Great Depression. Interestingly, gifted children may be more susceptible to strain, because of possible social isolation or class boredom.

The number one cause of nervousness in schools is the undue emphasis on standardized testing. Children realize quickly that their days spent doing test preparations place an enormous weight on the eventual tests themselves. Many of the nationwide opt-out movements are springing directly from a desire to avoid putting manufactured test pressure on young learners.

Motion Infographic - Stress from Shaun Chan on Vimeo.

Source: Column Five Media
(click for detail)
The motion infographic above highlights startling figures about the extensive effects of stress. Designed by Shaun Chan using statistics from the Global Organization for Stress, the video presents a compelling case for reducing anxiety in our students.

For learners, a primary trigger of stress is uncertainty. When children are thrown into the educational deep end with no guidance or with vague instructions, they panic in trying to meet expectations. These expectations create other sources of anxiety for students, particularly in the academic grades that some parents presume their kids should be able to attain.

Source: Sweet & Simple
The best cures for student stress are adjustments in pace and tone. By giving more time for everyday activities and by allowing an appropriate rate for understanding, teachers can alleviate situations that cause agitation. A lighter tone from teachers and parents can also have a salubrious effect. Something as simple as relaxing and smiling can inspire children to loosen up and enjoy learning.

For other resources about reducing student stress, we recommend:

1 comment:

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