School has become a battleground. Yes, it is still pretty much the best place for our kids to meet new friends and get fun experiences. However, one look at what they need to accomplish in one night just seems to be overwhelming. They are expected to finish countless homework, projects that have a small window time in between them, and standardised tests to study for. Additionally, they are also expected to get involved in extracurricular activities so that can get a more holistic learning experience.
For instance, international schools in Singapore like the One World International School, prepare students for the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education. Students will take a series of tests, the results of which will determine whether they can get in their dream universities or not.
It can be pretty much doozy, right? As guardians, when we see that our kids are feeling the pressure, let’s help them take a step back. Here are the signs of school stress and how we can help our kids cope with them.
Identifying signs of stress
Showing negative changes in behaviour
Kids are not able to express their distress verbally, especially really young ones. So it manifests as a negative change in behaviour. Some of them might lash out, be irritable, or they are not responsive to anything anymore. Once you start picking up on these behavioural changes, it might mean that there is something wrong. You can then start thinking about the best way to address it, like maybe going to the ice cream shop first and then open up the topic, asking them how they are.
Stress can also manifest physically. You might have experiences stomach aches or headaches when you are stressed out at work, the same happens to our kids. The most common signs that they are “feeling sick” are frequent visits to the school nurse, and it always happens right before a deadline or a big test.
Sometimes, kids will not use the word “stress” when they are expressing their feelings. They might use words like “confused”, “frustrated” and “worries.” Some would even say negative things about themselves like “I’m stupid” or “everyone hates me.” Guardians need to listen carefully, especially on rare occasions when kids are talking about their concerns without prompt.
Helping kids cope with stress
Get updates on events and tests in school
We can only do so much when it comes to helping our kids unload some of the stress, and one of the most effective ways is getting school updates. When we are more involved in their schooling and helping our kids choose their career path to focus on, the easier it is for us to help.
What you can do is to create a calendar exclusively for the kids. This is where they can put their exam schedules, school events, and other affairs. If the school is not actively sending out monthly newsletters, you can call ahead and ask for pertinent schedules. In this way, you can help them manage their time.
Create a consistent study schedule
A strict study schedule means that for a specific time period, the kids will need to focus on finishing their homework for tomorrow and studying a little of their notes. Before and after this time period, they should rest and relax so that they would feel refreshed before and after studying.
Allow breaks in between subjects
Just like in exercise, a few minutes of rest in between tasks is important. After each subject, give them ample time to rest their eyes, but not too long since it is going to make them feel too tired to continue their homework. You can give them snacks while they are doing their work so that they will feel energised.
Schools should not be a pressure cooker of a place. Once our kids are showing signs that they are distressed find out how to intervene so you can help calm them down.