12 Strategies to Support Kids with Anxiety in the Classroom

So many of our students are dealing with anxiety. This can show up in the classroom in a lot of different ways (even some unexpected ways!). But there are a lot of very simple steps that we can take to help our students! Keep reading to find some simple accommodations for anxiety in the classroom:

Get resources to help kids with anxiety here

Trying to help your students who are dealing with anxiety? Try these 12 accommodations for anxiety in the classroom.

Accommodations for Anxiety

1 – Advanced notice of schedule/routine changes

Kids with anxiety often value routines and predictability. When there are changes to the routine, like with fire drills or special assemblies, they can become overwhelmed. Simply letting kids know ahead of time that there will be a change in the routine can go a long way!

2 – Extended time or eliminate timed activities

Sometimes, kids with anxiety struggle to show what they know on timed activities or tests. The presence of a timer can interfere with their thinking or become crippling. Allowing extended time or eliminating the timer altogether can offer them the space to actually show their learning.

3 – Option to present in small group or just to teacher

Getting up in front of the class can be incredibly overwhelming for anyone with anxiety. Offering students the option to present in a small group or just in front of the teacher can again offer students the space to truly demonstrate their knowledge.

4 – Assign groups

Choosing groups (or waiting to be chosen by a group) can be debilitating for kids with anxiety. Consider assigning groups instead of letting students choose their groups to eliminate this experience for students.

5 – Nonverbal signals or card cues

Creating nonverbal signals or using cue cards can allow students to communicate with teachers without drawing attention to themselves. They can use nonverbal communication to request bathroom breaks, let teachers know they don’t want to be called on, etc. Colored cards can serve the same purpose when students place them on their desks!

6 – Provide notes

This isn’t an accommodation that is intended to “let studnts off the hook” (as has been suggested so many times before!) in the classroom. Sometimes, being able to write down *everything* or catch *every single word* or get *everything written down* can create so much additional anixety for kids. Offering fill in the blank notes or allowing kids to check their notes with the teacher copy afterward can go a long way in relieving anxiety.

7 – Chunking assignments

Long term projects can be crippling for kids with anxiety! Breaking long term assignments into smaller, more manageable tasks can make it feel more do-able for ALL of our students.

8 – Limit choices

Choose ANYONE to write about for this project? Overwhelming. Choose from these 3 people? More manageable. Sometimes, limiting choices can help kids with anxiety settle in and get started where they might otherwise struggle with unlimited choices.

9 – Private check ins

Calling students out, or even checking in gently, in front of others can feel huge for kids with anxiety. Make time for private check ins that won’t create social anxiety for these kids.

10 – Break cards

Offering cards that allow students to take structured breaks can be so helpful for kids who feel stuck or restricted in the classroom. Kids can simply place the card on their desk to let the teacher know that they are taking a 3 minute break and will be back soon.

11 – Designated calming space

Every classroom needs a designated calming space! Having this set up ahead of time and available to all students can help students with anxiety feel more confortable knowing that this space is readily available and open any time they need it.

12 – Small group testing

Being in a whole class of peers during testing can create an uncomfortable social comparison situation for kids with anxiety. Offering small group testing opportunities can help these kids focus and show what they know!

Trying to help your students who are dealing with anxiety? Try these 12 accommodations for anxiety in the classroom.

Keep Reading:

Trying to help your students who are dealing with anxiety? Try these 12 accommodations for anxiety in the classroom. Great for anxiety 504 plans or anxiety IEP accommodations

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