Going back to school can be fun, exciting, busy and difficult. A child can have lots of different emotions, including anxiety that can be caused by mounting academic performance expectations. Some stress in this area can be good, pushing a student to work harder, but there is potential for this stress to negatively impact a child. Below are some strategies for parents with younger children to manage academic stress:
- Listen and notice any expressions of anxiety (trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, changing eating habits, or making comments such as, “ I don’t like school” or “I don’t want to go to school”)
- Talk with them about their feelings about their school work
- Brainstorm with them to find things they can do to feel better
- Make sure they are getting enough sleep so they are well rested for the school day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9-11 hours for children 5-12 years old.
- Make sure they are not overscheduled, try to let them choose what they want to be involved in
Children can also become stressed about school when they feel the school work too difficult. Each child has their own learning style and learning can be easier or harder for them based on if the classroom environment matches their learning style. There are several different learning styles and knowing what style your child naturally gravitates to can reduce their stress at school. Talking with a teacher can help identify which the child uses best.
- Visual: learning with pictures, images and spatial understanding. When helping a visual learner study, put concepts into drawings for them to look at and understand.
- Auditory: learning with sound and music. Asking a child questions out loud or putting key ideas into a song or a short tune can help a child with this learning style remember the material better.
- Physical: learning with body, hands and sense of touch. For these children, going to a museum where a child can interact with exhibits can be helpful.
- Logical: learning with logic, reasoning and systems. Try giving the child puzzles and math games to help them learn.
- Social: learning in groups or with other people. Consider setting up study groups or having a friend come over to study together.
- Solitary: learning alone. Make yourself available to the solitary learner so that they know it’s okay to reach out for help when they need it.
Helping a child manage academic-based stress can give them coping skills for later in life as they experience the stress of high school or college. Plus, helping a child discover the learning style that works best for them can make going to school far more enjoyable and successful.
Note: This information should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition. Call 612-871-1454 to learn more about Washburn Center’s mental health services for children.