Helping Kids Manage Back to School Stress

This post is sponsored by WE Teachers, made possible by Walgreens. All opinions are my own.

One way or another, many kids are heading back to school soon, and we can be sure that stress levels will be high. Many of our students have been out of school since March, out of their regular routines, and enduring familial stress while away. While school might typically feel like a safety net to students, changes to school procedures and safety measures may leave some students feeling more stressed and anxious as they enter the building for the new school year. To help kids deal with back to school stress, try to incorporate these strategies into your routine:

Looking for ways to Help Kids Deal with Back to School Stress as they re-enter after going through a global pandemic? Don't miss these 6 tips!

Help Kids Deal with Back to School Stress

1 – Ease In

While we know it’s best to ease into new things in general, it’ll be even more important as students return to school after and during an ongoing global pandemic. We can’t expect that they’ll remember basic things about school, including basic behavior expectations and social norms. Ease into academic expectations, and consider spending even more time than usual (maybe even double!) focusing on teaching expectations and most importantly, developing classroom community.

2 – Review New Procedures… and Again

Teachers spend the first few weeks of school reviewing classroom procedures under normal conditions, but this will be even more important during this time. Students will have to learn new health and safety procedures, like staying in their 6 foot space, only using their own supplies, and more. Expect that it will take longer than usual for students to grasp these new norms and maintain lots of patience as you reteach.

Try to make teaching these procedures fun! It will feel scary to some of our students, but as we continue to review procedures and normalize the the expectations, they will become more comfortable and less stressed. Try using some of these fun videos as you teach procedures:

3 – Make Time for Sharing

Even more than usual, students will benefit from having time to talk about how they’re feeling during the school day. Morning meeting is a great time to do this, but expect that some students will need time to check in and process throughout the day. Incorporate more opportunities for students to talk about how they’re feeling and reacting to school changes, current events, and life in general throughout the school day. Don’t be afraid to share your own hard feelings during this time. Knowing that trusted adults have big feelings too will help normalize the experience and remove some of the isolation surrounding feelings they may be experiencing.

4 – Create New Classroom/School Routines

If you’ve been wanting to incorporate more mindfulness activities into your school and classroom routine, now is the time to do it! It’s also a great time to add more brain breaks to your daily schedule to give students time to stand up, move around, and get outside of their confined areas. When possible, try to get them outside for movement breaks or try some classroom yoga. Adding these routines to your classroom or school schedule will certainly help kids deal with stresses they’re experiencing and have a moment to become aware of and relieve tensions they might be experiencing!

Looking for ways to Help Kids Deal with Back to School Stress as they re-enter after going through a global pademic? Don't miss these 6 tips!

5 – Load Up On Psychoeducation

Stress is a tricky business. It affects every inch of our bodies, and students may not realize that some of the physical symptoms they’re experiencing could be directly related to stress! Spend a chunk of time teaching kids about what stress is, how it affects them, and practical strategies for dealing with it. When I was teaching in a middle school, I taught an entire unit on stress! I expect in the 2020-2021 school year, this will be more necessary than ever. Read more about some psychoeducation for anxiety here and what I cover in my stress management unit here.

6 – Keep Communication Lines Open

Communicating with families is always important, but keeping those lines of communication open during this time will be crucial! Check in with families when you notice anything different for students or as frequently as possible. We know home affects school and school affects home, and everything works better when we communicate as a team! Knowing that parents and school staff are looking out for them will help kids feel cared for and more secure.

Next Steps:

Looking for more ways to support your students in a trauma-informed classroom as you head back to school? WE Teachers is an amazing program from WeAreTeachers, made possible by Walgreens, that gives teachers resources and training on creating safe, supportive, trauma-informed environments for their students! Modules in the training include information in trauma, mental well-being, poverty, pandemic-informed community, and so much more. Sign up to access the modules here.

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