This year has been a highly challenging time for some. With that in mind, creating a calm space in the classroom for students is essential for any teacher. While mental health awareness is on the rise across the UK, it can be difficult to identify students struggling with mental health disorders such as anxiety. It’s important to understand how anxiety can manifest itself in different individuals and to develop classroom procedures that are supportive and effective for helping students who struggle with it, whether they have been diagnosed or not.
Read our top tips on how you can support your students that may be struggling with new changes in and out of the classroom.
Top Signs Linked to Anxiety
While the signs of anxiety look different for everyone, here are a few common symptoms of anxiety, taken from the charity, Mind:
- Feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax
- Having a sense of dread or fearing the worst
- Feeling light-headed or dizzy
- Feeling restless or unable to sit still
- Headaches, backache or other aches and pains
- Sweating or hot flushes
- Sleep problems
- High absenteeism rates
- Difficulty processing and retrieving information
- Lack of sleep
- Disruptive behaviour in class
- Fractured relationships with peers and teachers
- Irregular homework completion and classroom participation
Top Tips on Providing Support in the Classroom
See below on how you can create a calm environment for students that may feel anxious in the classroom.
Implement mindfulness practices
When a student begins to feel overwhelmed with anxiety, leading deep breathing and mindfulness exercises is a quick way to slow down their breathing and any racing thoughts. Deep breathing’s physical effect on their body can help a student in distress feel calmer in a matter of minutes. These deep breathing exercises from Coping Skills for Kids are a great resource to get you started.
Offer extra time on homework
Homework can be another area that causes anxiety in the classroom, so allowing them to have the extra time or offering an alternative way to complete it would be beneficial. For example, if students become anxious about the amount they must write, why not allow them to complete their work by typing or delivering it in an oral format?
Alternative ways to speak in front of the classroom
Speaking in front of others may be daunting for some, so why not try different classroom discussions in smaller groups? You could ask them to pair up and discuss topics with their partner to get rid of their nerves!
Have a cool-down space for a quick break
Another great idea is building an area for students to cool down and have a break. This will allow them to take a moment for themselves to manage their anxiety better. Providing this space for them is important as you let them know that it is OK to take a breather.
Do you have any suggestions that have worked for you? We would love to hear them, so do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tag us on Twitter (@EducationCity) or EducationCity Facebook! If we like your idea, we may well include a template in a future resource pack so other teachers can benefit too!