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Tim Elmore

On Leading the Next Generation

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Five Reasons Why Schools Must Handle Stress Better

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Despite the poor opinions you may have about teens today, it’s important to note that part of their struggle might be because they’re the most “stressed generation in recent history.”  More than 9 of 10 college students say they are absolutely overwhelmed. High school students feel pushed by parents to “make them proud” and by teachers to make the grade, so they can increase funding for the school. In addition, many put pressure on themselves to get into the right college.

The good news is, more and more high schools nationwide are taking innovative steps to alleviate this, by hosting “Stress Reduction Days.” Don’t you love it?  Unlike normal days, these school days are filled with teachers leading their classes while wearing red clown noses, student’s favorite music blaring in the hallways as they dance between classes and blowing bubbles.

I know. It’s not the high school you remember. Me neither. But because pressure is higher than ever, and we (adults) have failed to help kids navigate stress well, these measures are helping them put things in perspective. For instance, Lexington High School, in Massachusetts sponsored their second stress reduction day allowing students to play, enjoy yoga classes, music, sidewak chalk and games. The educators agreed it had to be done, since student stress levels were “alarmingly high.”

Five Big Reasons Why This is Good

1. This kind of activity produces endorphins.

When participating in exhilarating activities they enjoy, students experience endorphins flowing through them, enabling better thinking and engagement.

2. This kind of activity often generates exercise to address obesity.

We all know kids today are struggling with obesity because they are so sedentary. Stress reduction days push them to get up and do something physical.

3. This kind of activity allows educators and students to connect.

It’s been proven that students learn more from teachers with whom they have a genuine relationship. Laughter connects the two and fosters honest interaction.

4. This kind of activity enables students to rest and become creative.

Winston Churchill said, “Change is as good as rest.” Doing something different not only rests parts of the brain, but it causes our brains to think creatively.

5. This kind of activity will ultimately produce better performance.

European nations, like Finland, have surpassed U.S. test scores. One way they do it, is they allow for physical exercise several times a day. It’s a proven producer.

“Everyone has extreme goals and they want to do really well, and stress is a part of that,” one senior class president Zach Strohmeyer told the Boston Globe. “It’s just important that we recognize it’s there and have ways to deal with it.”

Question: Is there a step your school could take to reduce stress?

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Christine on June 20, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I generally really like your posts, but I think this one misses the point entirely. Kids aren’t stressed in schools because of “extreme goals.” It’s quite the opposite actually. Kids are stressed because schools have only extrinsic goals for them. We don’t foster learning that inspires intrinsic goal setting and keeping. Chasing someone else’s ideas of ‘achievement’ and ‘learning’ and being judged on someone else’s standards is great for mass producing mindless widget makers, but lousy for education. That we as a nation have resorted to asking professional educators to don clown noses is nothing more than a nice visual metaphor for what has become of our schools.

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Five Reasons Why Schools Must Handle Stress Better