How To Ensure That A School Is Stress-Free?
Schools in India have evolved from the gurukul to today's modern 21st-century-ready learning centres. Even though we have come a long way in education, schools are often perceived as places that add to children's stress. There are many reasons behind the same- the race to score marks, assessments, project deadlines, the heavy school bags, bullying, and the list.
With a pandemic and various problems that come with the times, ‘studying’ and ‘stress’ seem to go hand in hand. Our cultural mindscape has, over time, interlinked school and stress, making young children susceptible to the belief that stress is a part of their educational journey.
However, this should not be the At National Model School, we not only aim to educate young minds to excel in academics but ensure that the school is a nurturing environment, bringing out the best in children while they stay happy. While educators and psychologists are of the opinion that a certain amount of positive stress helps children perform well in school, we recognize that the fine line between positive stress and distress is barely visible in today’s fast-paced world.
Psychologists have established that children who undergo stress can be affected in various ways. It takes a toll on their physical well-being and happiness and in turn, affects their relationships at school and at home, and in turn has a negative effect on their grades. It becomes a vicious cycle.
The first step towards ensuring that children enjoy coming to school is to help teachers, parents, and children understand that stress is not a natural companion to education. The path to creating a stress-free environment at school is not simple. However, we endeavour to adopt various measures to create a positive experience for our students.
In order to do this, we have identified the top stressors for students. In addition to school, children are stressed by homework, extracurricular activities and the pressure to perform better than their peers and succeed. Another factor that adds to their stress is making new friends when they move to a new school. The final factor is bullying. As educators, the school's primary job is to identify these factors and then address them.
Here is how we have worked towards making our school a stress-free and enjoyable space for children to grow up in.
Set up a routine
Many adults agree that a lack of routine or organisation creates stress. Our first method to eliminate stress for students is by helping them set up a routine while in school. In addition to a set timetable, we have made sure that our learning spaces are child-friendly, and every child knows how the school functions. Our teachers are well aware of the importance of a routine.
So, children are given a set of rules to follow, ensuring that they know what to expect from their day at school. They also know the discipline that is expected of them, so there are no rude awakenings for the students. In addition, students at National Model School look forward to coming to school owing to the fun routines we have created for them as a break from the monotony of classes.
Motivation is the key to success. While the old adage, ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child,’ is no longer a mantra in the field of education, there are various other ways in which we can add stress while learning. Although corporal punishment has become a thing of the past, children are still subjected to verbal abuse, unfair grading systems and peer pressure. We have made kindness and positivity a habit at our school to nullify trauma owing to negative comments. We reward every good act with a kind word, a pat on the back, or positive feedback.
Our teachers do not meet every incorrect answer or misdemeanour with derision or anger; rather, we explain how that action could have an adverse effect and encourage the child to do better by focusing on their achievements instead of their shortcomings. Every action, we believe, has a positive to it, and highlighting that could work wonders towards developing strong, kind individuals.
Keeping ourselves cheerful is a task as the school year progresses. The children and the teachers grow weary as they are burdened by schoolwork, assessments and everything else that the year brings. However, a bright, cheery smile and an enthusiastic attitude can go a long way to beat the monotony.
Our teachers love their jobs, and it shows quite clearly. They remain enthusiastic about their classes throughout the academic year and spread cheer even before exams and revision. They have various ways to do this- introduce games in the classroom, create projects and worksheets that require children to think, get creative and have fun while learning, and diversify their teaching to include different learning styles.
Adding a personal touch
We understand that every learner is unique, with different learning styles and needs. In the same way, every teacher has a different style and approach to teaching. The thread that connects all of us at National Model School is the eagerness to know each other. So, we add a personal touch to everything we do- our lessons, assessments and daily interactions. We get to know each of our students personally, and they, in turn, understand that every teacher is approachable at any point of time.
As part of our endeavour to have an open learning space where everyone is allowed to excel, our children are always welcome to share their ideas and struggles. Children understand from an early age that they can approach any of the teachers with queries and also bring up an issue that is bothering them. Open channels of communication, we believe, lead to a stress-free environment.
Communicating their wants, doubts and happy moments makes children look forward to school. It makes them better communicators in the future and improves their relationships with their peers, teachers and the people who are an integral part of their lives. In this age of virtual reality, being able to communicate one’s feelings is of utmost importance, and we believe that the environment that we have set up for them contributes to their development in a big way.
A support group
Bullying is a problem that plagues our younger generation. Social media and its growing popularity have contributed to this problem as well. Various online platforms offer anonymity, and bullies exploit the opportunities that these platforms render them. While bullying at school is strictly prohibited, and stringent measures have been put in place to make sure that children are not subjected to it, we understand that online bullying is a monster that is rearing its ugly head, especially among teenagers and both parents and teachers are kept in the dark many a time.
While we cannot monitor each child’s activity on the internet, we have extended our open communication channel to create a support group where every child can approach anyone regarding any trouble they are facing. Whether it is bullying about academic performance, ill-natured teasing about personal relationships or appearances, or any negativity that could affect the psychological well-being of our children, our faculty members have established a functioning support group along with parents to make sure that our children see the school and home as safe spaces to talk about anything that troubles them.
In addition to all these measures to ensure that our students have a relatively stress-free childhood, we acknowledge that our education system inflicts a certain amount of pressure on students. So, we have devised ways to ensure a good balance between academics and extracurricular activities. Mindfulness activities such as yoga and physical training go hand in hand with classroom tasks to ensure that our students are mentally and physically fit.
We also include many activities that are not competitive to help every student identify their strengths and blaze their own paths. To ensure that every child has a growth mindset, we refrain from categorising children based on their performance in examinations or competitions. Granting autonomy in decision-making is another way to ensure that our children become mindful and independent thinkers.
In light of their return to school after the lockdown, we have taken extra measures to make school a delightful experience for our children. We watch for any signs of stress in children and take steps to help them adapt to the new normal, keeping their preferences in mind. Our enthusiastic teachers always have a smile for the children to make them feel at home, and the welcoming atmosphere that we have created, makes them feel at home. An open, liberal atmosphere is the key to keeping our children happy and confident, giving them the confidence to soar to great heights and excel on their terms.