10 Simple Ways to Support Students with Anxiety

Monday, August 19, 2019

1.) Stay Structured
Anxiety can stem from just about anything, but it's so common for a child to feel anxiety about their daily schedule. Always having a daily schedule posted (and maybe an individual version for any students that need it) with visuals and written words can be a huge source of comfort.

2.) Designated calm spaces
Calm corners aren't just for kids who have short fuses. Having a universal space for any student in your classroom to retreat to when they're feeling big emotions can make your classroom feel so much safer.

3.) Affirmations
The anxious brain often acts like a hamster wheel for negative phrases. Adding in positive affirmations for students is huge. I love using these affirmation cards and coloring journals for students to physically see and hear positive mantras!

4.) Breathing
Making breathing exercises an intentional part of your day, every day! All students can benefit from breathing exercises, and it doesn't single out any students. There are simple and more complex breathing strategies that students can learn proactively so they know they can rely on them when anxiety rears it's ugly head.

5.) Exercise
Getting bodies moving is such a huge way to improve anxiety! Adding movement into lessons, having intentional walking/running breaks, scheduling in Go Noodle times, and partnering with your PE teacher for more integrated ideas can be SO beneficial. Endorphins are real!

6.) Check-ins
All of our students need individualized attention, and it's important to understand which of our students will need more intentional check-in times. Having opportunities to talk 1:1 with students experiencing anxiety can give them a chance to vent, ask questions, and gain support from you. Schedule these check-ins into your schedule so they're not missed!

7.) Accommodate
Be flexible with the needs of students with anxiety - they may need extra wait time, additional prompts, more space, and extended time for certain projects. It's far better to offer what students need and keep them feeling comfortable and supported, than having them stressed and unable to complete their work!

8.) Positive distractions
Some worries are so pervasive for our students that they take over! Having positive distractions can help our students break the cycle and be able to focus on other topics. I like using sensory tools, simple puzzles, calming books, coloring pages, and small snacks to help students switch their brain from anxious thoughts to logical thinking.

9.) Bibliotherapy
Books are everything! They help us learn skills and see that we're not alone. Here's a few books about anxiety that I love.

10.) Prioritize mindfulness
Make mindfulness a regular part of your day. Mantras, songs, videos, mandala coloring pages, meditating, and the like can be easy to proactively implement and can truly change the quality of life for students learning in your classroom. So relaxing for teachers, too! Check out this activity pack to help you get started!


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