At the beginning of a school year, anxiety levels are often running high for students and teachers alike. Teachers are familiar with children who are reluctant to be at school, harassed parents saying what a struggle it was to get their child to school, students who stress excessively because they don’t feel prepared for a particular lesson, students becoming angry or upset over small matters, students who withdraw, and those who constantly feel sick or have stomach aches. Anxiety resulting in classroom problems, poor attendance, and difficult handovers is a problem/symptom that has become rife in schools and can drain hours of time for teachers, administration, support staff and parents.
What does the Research Say?
An Australian Primary Principals’ Association survey in 2020 found that nine out of ten primary school principals indicated that anxiety was placing strain on time and resources. Other studies have identified that anxiety limits children’s ability to take in and recall information.
The 2023 Wellbeing and Engagement Collection results for South Australian students across years 4 -12 showed that 27% worry a lot and 36% worry a medium amount, leaving only 37% for whom levels of worry are not a concern. Levels of worry increased each year from Year 5 through to Year 12, with girls reporting higher levels of worry across all year levels from 4 -12. 26% of students reported having great difficulty regulating emotions, while 40% struggled moderately to regulate emotions, leaving only 34% of students for whom emotion regulation was not an issue. Students’ failure to manage emotions was the third highest factor comprising low wellbeing scores. The scores spanned happiness, optimism, satisfaction with life, emotion regulation, sadness, worries, distress, resilience, and well-being literacy.
We know that students in the ELC-Year 3 age group, not represented in the Wellbeing and Engagement data above, also present with significant worries, difficulty regulating emotions, and anxiety resulting in difficult drop offs, poor learning engagement, and poor school attendance.
Is there a Solution?
Bower(schools) works with schools to manage and learn from crises such as those caused by high anxiety and low emotion regulation in students. bower(method) and bower(note) – developed from working with high and complex needs’ clients – informs bower(schools) and equips teachers, wellbeing teams, and leadership to problem solve by viewing the problem or symptom through multiple lenses that provide the information required to resolve conflicts and avoid an escalation of problems that evaporate valuable time and resources.
bower(schools) helps educators take the meta view of any situation and looks at patterns of interaction in the student’s outside world that impacts their ability to manage and who can most make a difference to the problem.
What does “solving it” look like?
bower(schools) has worked with teachers to successfully empower the student who is showing the symptom to take charge and do things that calms the overactive, emotional, reflexive back brain and allow the problem-solving, organisational, frontal lobe to be in control.
In a recent case of a highly dysregulated child, bower(schools) achieved collaboration between the principal, teacher, parent, private paediatrician, and student with resolution of the problem behaviours, a stronger relationship between parents and the school, greater appreciation from the paediatrician about how their work impacted the whole “world “of the student, great learning for the teacher and school staff involved and a more productive classroom environment.
To see how bower(schools) can support you and your school community book a free Schools Support Assessment meeting at bower(schools).
To read more articles to learn about the Bower Method and the protocols used within bower(schools) sign up for bower(knowledge).
South Australian Wellbeing and Engagement Collection: All SA students survey year 2023, Department for Education, Government of South Australia: Wellbeing and Engagement Collection – 2023 results report (education.sa.gov.au)
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