Students of all ages are dealing with new levels of stress, and as the pandemic wears on many teachers have incorporated de-stressing activities into the day.
Stress might be harder to identify in young learners. According to the World Health Organization, children may show their stress by being more clingy, anxious, withdrawn, or agitated. Even if students seem unfazed by changes over the past year, it’s still a useful way to transition between activities or take a break.
The following are tips from elementary, middle, and high school teachers on how they’re helping students de-stress. Feedback came from teachers in remote, hybrid and in-person environments.
My remote kindergartner has kid-friendly yoga routines built into her week, here’s a typical example. Her class also does Go Noodle and Koo Koo Kanga Roo videos together, which prompt singing and dancing participation.
Every elementary teacher and staff person I heard from had used yoga in one way or another. One occupational therapist wrote, “I share yoga poses and sequences with my students in individual and small group sessions, as well as in whole group lessons in the classrooms.”
A second grade teacher said they provide mazes, play dough, and quiet listening moments outside for students to enjoy nature. Also, a variety of the following: “lights off and using ‘finger flashlights’ to read, mindful breathing and movement from Go Noodle, and student-lead breathing.”
At the middle school level, teachers use meditation and refocusing activities. One sixth and seventh-grade teacher said, “I do ‘questions of the day’ where I either ask them to describe their moods in particular ways, or bring up a specific subject for them to reflect on. I usually spend about 10 minutes at the beginning of class doing that.”
Yoga came up a lot here too, but more related to PE classes, or teachers sharing links for students to use on their own time.
A high school teacher with freshmen, sophomore and junior students said he shares relaxation activities and ideas with his classes. “Links to relaxing music, animal camera websites from zoos and aquariums, puzzles like Sudoku and cross words, and yoga. Basically, I ask them to find ways to disconnect from work and let go of the stress of online learning. And to make it part of their routine.”
He emphasized the importance of having a routine and making lists, “At this level, procrastination is a big issue.” His high school has also continued home room during the remote period as one more way for teachers to check-in on students. “We just want them to know we’re here for them.”