After more than a year of educational activities being shifted online because of COVID-19, the classroom environment has changed drastically. Returning to classrooms after being disengaged for a long time has left a devastating impact on students. Now more than ever promoting mental health in the classroom is critical.
Strategies To Promote Mental Well-Being In The Classroom
Classroom management has become a challenge for teachers. Students’ mental health has been pressure tested during the pandemic. And while online learning has served as a blessing during the social isolation period, it has its drawbacks.
Many students suffered as they could not continue online schooling for various reasons. As a result, their academic progress remained hindered. The pandemic has made school administrators realize the significance of mentally stable learners in the classroom.
During these unprecedented times, schools worldwide have realized the fundamental importance of mental well-being in the classroom. In response, they have taken drastic measures to implement strategies to promote the mental well-being of their students.
Among these measures, training teachers to foster students’ psychological safety yields the most desirable results. By sponsoring online programs for teachers, schools can better prepare them to tackle mental health and other challenges facing students today.
From making changes in their school curriculum to creating psychological safety for students, schools have taken diverse and concrete initiatives to address the issue of mental well-being.
Seven Strategies To Promote Mental Health In The Classroom
Building Strong Relationships
The student-teacher relationship is a prerequisite in academic achievement. Every seasoned teacher knows how critical it is to build a strong relationship with the student to help them improve academically. The same goes for stable mental health.
By building a strong relationship with the students, a teacher can play a significant role in helping students deal with stress and anxiety. A little informal chat with the students to check in on them can leave a lasting impression of being connected.
Likewise, a short one-on-one session regularly with the students to discuss their lives can reduce stress and improve mental health.
Creating Positive Classroom Environment
Research shows that a positive classroom environment has an indelible impact on students’ achievement since mental and academic achievement are interlinked. A positive classroom environment is not only supportive of students’ learning but also fosters a sense of security and contentment.
The phrase ‘Maslow before Bloom’ has now become cliched, but the idea remains valid. It states that teachers should first focus on students’ basic needs for safety and belonging and then work towards their academic performance.
Moreover, both physical and social environments are conducive to learning. A positive classroom culture having shared values plays a pivotal role in developing a healthy classroom environment.
Such collaborative classroom environments significantly enhance the mental and emotional well-being of students. Students feel respected and empowered when they are treated with respect and dignity.
Conducting Timely Diagnostics
Informal diagnostic assessments are a great way for teachers to measure where their students stand. It allows them to gauge how much support is required and what material will be useful in reaching specific learning goals.
Since diagnostic tests are not marked, students are less likely to feel stressed about them.
Conducting these diagnostics early on can eliminate possible causes of stress and anxiety among students, eventually improving their mental well-being.
Establishing Differentiated Instruction And Content
When students find themselves struggling academically at school, they tend to get anxious and strained, which may disrupt their mental health. Fortunately, differentiated learning can eliminate this concern.
Differentiation means catering to the individual needs of the students in a classroom. Each student is unique. Therefore, each student’s learning needs are different too. By establishing differentiated instruction and tailoring learning content according to the students’ individual needs, teachers can enable them to gain control of their learning.
Developing Healthy Eating Habits
Healthy eating is closely linked to improved mental health. When people maintain a nutritious diet, they’re in a better position to take care of their bodies. Similarly, when children eat healthy food and are properly nourished, they can cope with stress. It also helps them manage their emotions more effectively.
Brain breaks are short mental breaks during classroom teaching and learning activities to help students counter stress. These breaks are highly beneficial for students to unwind after a long session. Students feel more focused and productive after getting brain breaks during long study hours.
A simple break like a dancing break to more complicated ones like a scavenger hunt can reduce stress and keep kids motivated. Even pausing academic activity to have a sip of water is considered a helpful brain break.
Mindfulness is another useful technique that promotes mental well-being and reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Previously, meditation was only associated with adults and was considered a complicated procedure for dealing with stress and anxiety, but times have changed.
In recent years, education administrators have realized how mental wellness impacts students’ performance. Students in today’s times are faced with many challenges, and coping with these challenges can be draining and mentally exhausting.
Meditation is a relatively new concept in schools because it is hard to imagine a group of students sitting still for long durations. However, mindfulness can easily be executed in the classroom by simply asking students to sit in a yoga position and breathe.
By practicing mindfulness, students can learn to relax and feel rested. Arranging regular mindfulness sessions can help students become more focused while prolonging their attention span.
In Conclusion: Mental Health In The Classroom
The significance of mental wellness cannot be stressed enough, especially in educational settings. Schools have taken many initiatives to incorporate activities that nurture mental well-being in the classroom. By adopting these simple but high-yielding strategies, teachers can successfully promote mental well-being.
So, start by leveraging each strategy at a time and reap its benefits for years to come.
Erin is the mother of identical twin girls and their slightly older brother. She is a domestic engineer, and previously had a career leading customer service teams for a major HVAC company. Cleaning without harsh chemicals, and cooking easy and usually healthy meals are part of Erin's daily life. She volunteers with youth leaders, and genuinely wants to help others win. Erin has a degree in Communications, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.