How to make school easier for the unsettled child

4th July 2008 at 01:00
Pair anxious children with friendly, helpful classmates who will encourage them to participate

- Pair anxious children with friendly, helpful classmates who will encourage them to participate.

- Change can frighten anxious children, so ensure consistency wherever possible.

- Make sure that rules and sanctions are consistent across the school. For example, all teachers should give detentions for swearing, rather than one giving detention and another giving extra homework.

- Appreciate that anxiety can impede academic performance, even in bright pupils.

- Praise or reward those pupils who try something outside their comfort zone.

- Never humiliate pupils for making mistakes.

- If children are unable to take part in an activity, offer an alternative. But ensure this alternative is boring rather than pleasurable.

- Have clear policies about bullying.

- Do not ignore children's fears: allow them to talk about them.

- Avoid speaking about your own fears in class as this can add to children's anxiety.

- Speak positively to pupils about new situations and people.

- Because anxious pupils are difficult to identify, it is best to ensure that the overall ethos is designed to minimise anxiety.

Source: Dr Samantha Cartwright-Hatton.

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