We are likely to see higher than usual levels of academic anxiety as children return to the classroom. There is likely to be great disparity in how much children have accessed and engaged with the curriculum during lockdown and there will be all sorts of difficult feelings mixed up in this for some pupils including guilt, shame, fear or worry. With testing and exams scrapped for many, education may feel disjointed and uncertain. We may find that more children than usual are anxious about their schoolwork and this may play out in shutdowns, meltdowns or a general lack of ability to meaningfully engage.
When should I worry?
Most children will be a little uncertain as learning is re-established and everyone attempts to get back up to speed. For a few children this worry will seem more significant and rather than becoming more settled with increasing access to the learning environment, the child may become more and more anxious – this may play out through withdrawal, anger or panic.
What should I do?
Try to provide reassurance for all children. Be clear in your expectations of the class and of individuals and help children to understand that everyone is in the same boat both within the class and nationally, and that we will all work together to move forwards with our learning. Try to build up children’s confidence by providing the chance for success in their learning and build in plenty of nurturing and fun activities to help them settle and re-engage with education. Consistent and clear communication with families will also help to ensure any myths are dispelled and that there is a consistency of expectation. Many families will be feeling the pressure of not letting their child slip behind so keeping them in the loop will be helpful too.
Understand Anxiety: 10 Things You Need to Know – on demand course
Anxiety – 5 Simple Coping Strategies – on demand course
Anxiety: Supporting Teens to Support Themselves – on demand course
The support that Young Minds provide around academic resilience is an excellent starting point for universal support: https://youngminds.org.uk/resources/school-resources/academic-resilience-resources/