Learning anxiety, also known as school phobia, is the overwhelming and debilitating fear of failure or performing poorly in front of others.
Although this can happen to any student at any time, it usually occurs in middle school and high school, when kids begin to really care about what their peers think of them and exams become more important than ever before.
If your child has recently started struggling with learning anxiety and needs some help, here are some things you can do to help them get back on track.
Talk to your child
A lot of what causes learning anxiety boils down to worrying about making mistakes. This can lead kids who are otherwise bright and engaged students into difficult situations, like being afraid to raise their hand in class or asking for help when they need it.
If your child is struggling with anxiety, make sure they know you’re available—and that you believe in them! Encourage them by letting them know you have confidence in their abilities, and explain that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. And everyone is allowed an oops!
The most important thing is to constantly reassure your child of your support and love through these times.
Start relaxation exercises at home
It’s never too early to introduce relaxation exercises. Exercises such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can be taught at home and practiced every day.
At first, it may seem difficult if your child is unaccustomed to focusing on his or her body or being still for long periods of time. However, you should start by giving them something light-hearted to practice with, such as making silly faces or sounds.
Eventually work up towards formal relaxation techniques that will help them learn how they need to breathe in order to manage their anxiety. Doing these exercises regularly also sets them up for success if they ever need counseling sessions later on in life.
Encourage your child to be social after school
Students who are more social and make friends outside of school often do better academically. So, if your child doesn’t seem very interested in making friends, take matters into your own hands by encouraging them to volunteer for an after-school activity or sports team.
This will expose them to new people and build their self-confidence, something that is critical when dealing with anxiety. It will also show them what it feels like to be part of a team – an important lesson for any kid who struggles in school.
And lastly, you can get involved in their extracurricular activities too! Sports teams and clubs give both parents and children an opportunity to bond over shared interests.
Let them read more often
If you notice that your child is anxious, try encouraging them to read more often. Research has found that reading can help reduce anxiety in children. This can be particularly effective when it comes to lessening test anxiety.
If your child feels confident with reading, they will be less anxious when tests are around. Not only can reading lead to better grades, but it can also take their mind off things and calm them down for a bit before an important exam or meeting.
Enroll them in tutoring classes
Everyone feels anxiety from time to time, but it’s not easy for students who suffer from chronic anxiety. And for those whose grades are slipping because of learning anxiety, that can be even more stressful.
But, if you've tried everything and nothing seems to be working, it may be time to seek tutoring or counseling. Students with learning anxiety often learn best when assistance is customized to meet their specific needs.
So if you think your child might benefit from some extra help outside of the school environment, please feel free to contact us.
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