Although anxiety does not necessarily impact a child’s academic abilities, it can affect their ability to learn. Parents and teachers can work together to help a child succeed in the classroom. There are a number of ways teachers can make the school day easier and less stressful for a child with anxiety:
Create a “safe” place for the child to go when anxiety symptoms are high or during stressful times. This may be the nurse’s office or a staff member’s office. Establish rules for the use of the “safe” place. These rules should include items such as, the student must inform the teacher they need a few minutes to calm down, and a set time limit.
Be aware of physical symptoms of anxiety and provide activities to distract the child. Calming activities, such as, reading or listening to music may help to alleviate some of the physical symptoms and allow a child to return to class work after a period of time.
Allow a few minutes at the beginning of the day for the child to transition into the school day. Additional transitional periods might be necessary for other times when routine is disrupted. This can be providing five to ten minutes for the child to prepare their papers and school supplies or simply a few minutes for the child to sit quietly before the school day begins. If the time before school is difficult for the child, it may be beneficial for them to either enter the classroom a few minutes before or a few minutes after the rest of the class arrives.
Talk to the student about what interventions they would find helpful. Having the student discuss strategies may help them to be involved in reducing their anxiety symptoms. This also provides the child an opportunity to talk about situations that cause anxiety symptoms as well as for them to be more aware of their symptoms.
Teach the child relaxation techniques they can do at school, such as deep breathing exercises. Talk with parents about the techniques used at home and try to incorporate them into the classroom.