This is a collaborative post
Middle and high school students are under more stress than ever before. The number of U.S. high school students who experience academic pressure increased by 62 percent over seven years, even though performance improved modestly. The number of students who spend more than 10 hours per week doing homework rose from 12 percent to 21 percent over three years.
Increasing Concerns About Academic Stress
An increasing concern is being noticed among parents and school administrators regarding the high levels of stress that teenagers face in their educational journey. This anxiety was brought to light by a documentary highlighting the stories of students experiencing burnout due to intense achievement pressures, only to arrive at college unprepared for the demands they face there. In addressing these issues, it becomes essential to provide high-school students with resources to help manage stress, such as discussing essay topics that explore the balance between academic demands and mental health.
In response to this growing issue, some schools are beginning to reassess their educational approach. Initiatives such as removing advanced placement classes, focusing less on textbook learning, and reducing the frequency of tests are being trialled to alleviate the pressure on students. While these measures have raised concerns about potentially compromising a student’s competitiveness for top college slots, the focus for many remains on equipping students with better stress management strategies. Options such as increased counselling services, the introduction of yoga and breathing exercises, and the implementation of homework-free days are being explored to help students navigate the rigors of academic life.
Helping Teenagers Cope With School Stress
This increased pressure to perform academically can leave young adults feeling hopeless and parents feeling helpless. However, many experts agree that there are definitive steps parents can take to help their teenagers cope. The American Academy of Paediatrics, for instance, stresses teaching children resilience through such methods, building confidence, strengthening family connections, and instilling character. Here are some specific ways parents can help teens become more resilient.
Teaching Organization Skills
The only thing more stressful for a student than completing homework assignments in several subjects is having to complete the work in an environment full of scattered papers and misplaced supplies. The fact that a child needs special knowledge for advanced mathematics is widely known, but both parents and students often take organization skills for granted.
Just like calculus, organization is something that has to be learned. Children should be taught as early as elementary school to keep their workspaces and backpacks well-stocked and orderly. However, there is still time for even the most disorganized teen to learn the basics of organization. Parents who have not mastered this may face the added challenge of learning with their teens. Depending on the situation, a teen may need guidance in one or more of the following: removing excess clutter, arranging a desk into a workable space, storing supplies, sorting school papers into folders, or writing organized notes.
Teaching Time Management Skills
Time Management skills are a subset of organization skills. However, since time is less tangible than papers in a folder, its management can be harder to grasp. Teen stress due to over-scheduling has often been the subject of discussion in parent circles, but the lack of scheduling can sometimes be a source of even greater pressure. Having multiple assignments, projects, and tests in the works with no study plan can lead to several significant stressors, including cramming, late assignments, and poor performance.
Parents can help teens develop the habit of keeping track of all assignments on a calendar, school planner, chart, or computer. They can also stress the importance of making a checklist of tasks to be completed and demonstrate how to prioritize responsibilities quickly. Showing teens how to form a schedule for long-term projects or daily study plans for tests can prevent work from piling up and leading to stressful late-night cram sessions.
Teaching Relaxation Techniques
The ability to rest should be second nature, but many people in today’s busy world do not know how to do it. Teaching teens simple breathing or meditation techniques can go a long way to help relieve tense muscles or calm nerves before an oral presentation. Numerous books and videos describe such simple techniques. Parents can also advise their teens to enrol in a yoga class.
Encouraging Sufficient Exercise
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, advocates that adolescents engage in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity every day. The benefits of exercise extend far beyond maintaining physical health. Recent research has demonstrated that regular physical activity can also profoundly affect mental well-being. It’s been found that consistent exercise can induce changes in the brain, resulting in enhanced resilience and anxiety reduction when faced with potential stressors in the future.
Offering as Much Support as Possible
A comprehensive way parents can help their middle or high school students relieve stress is to offer their full and unwavering support simply. Understandably, parents want their children to learn independence, but this can be a gradual process as their children build knowledge and self-confidence. A parent should continue to provide tutoring and emotional support and be actively involved in her graduate education well into the adolescent years. Even something as simple as helping a teenager with a regular household chore during final exams can reduce stress.
In an era where academic demands are ever-increasing, helping teenagers manage and reduce school stress is not just beneficial—it’s imperative. The alarming rise in academic pressure necessitates a comprehensive strategy that encompasses skill development, stress reduction techniques, and robust support systems.
Whether it’s through teaching organizational and time management skills, introducing relaxation practices, encouraging physical exercise, or simply being a pillar of emotional support, parents and educators have a vital role. It’s about striking a balance that fosters both academic success and the mental well-being of students. By investing in these approaches, we can empower the next generation with the resilience and fortitude needed to navigate the complexities of modern education and emerge as well-rounded individuals ready for the challenges of college and beyond.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post