2020 was a stressful year for many students, and 2021 is looking to be equally hectic. Whether your students are attending in-person classes or online lectures, there are several steps that you can take to reduce their stress and help them develop healthy attitudes towards education and life.
Manage Homework Levels
Children of all ages often complain that the amount of homework they receive is interfering with their time for play and sleep. Although a certain number of assignments often need to be completed to meet state and national standards, teachers have a great deal of control over when these tasks are performed. By lowering homework expectations, teachers can help make sure that kids are getting the rest that they need to maintain their mental health.
In general, students shouldn’t have more than an hour or two of homework to complete each weeknight. Longer assignments should be handled during school hours, especially if the teacher is around to offer assistance. If you aren’t the only teacher assigned to your class, collaborate with other instructors to make sure that every child’s free time is being respected.
Reduce Test Anxiety
Test anxiety is one of the leading causes of stress for young children. As a teacher, you can do a lot to make sure that your students aren’t worrying about upcoming quizzes when they should be enjoying the subject material.
First, avoid springing surprise tests on your class. Kids need time to study, ask questions, and make sure they truly understand the lessons. Putting a test date on the syllabus isn’t enough for most kids, so make sure to remind them at least a few class periods before the quiz is due.
Next, consider reducing the amount of impact that tests have on your students’ grades. Some teachers have started letting students retake online tests as many times as they need to; this way, they learn the material without incurring any of the harmful impacts causes by stress.
Provide Emotional Support
For many students, a teacher isn’t just an instructor; they’re also a parental figure and a role model. The way that you interact with your students can greatly influence how they perceive themselves and how they handle the stresses of daily life.
Treat all of your students with compassion and understanding, regardless of the grades that they receive. If a student is struggling, don’t assume that they are lazy or unintelligent. Instead, try to find out why they are having a hard time with the material. Some students have difficulty reading, while others are distracted by problems at home. In many cases, a student who has failed many times will have low self-confidence. Try giving them a few encouraging words and offering them a private study session to help them build their skills.
Encouraging mental health as an educator is all about paying attention to the way that the learning environment impacts the rest of the child’s life. Going to school teaches kids how to function in society, so make sure they are learning positive lessons that you want them to carry forward into the world. A single word of praise or a night without homework can go a long way towards helping a struggling child regain momentum in a difficult academic system. Pay attention to your charges’ emotions, make compassionate decisions, and be ready to change your plans to reflect the reality of your classroom’s needs.