Student Stress

Unfortunately, most students with LDs experience significant stressors at school, in both academic and social environments, that can affect their mental health and well-being. When it is hard to ‘show what you know’ or connect with your peers, it is understandable that we might see higher rates of school-related stress [1] and more school drop-out. Having LDs can also complicate the student’s ability to cope with stress, such as getting “stuck” in problem-solving or having difficulties regulating emotions.

The structure of secondary school can be a source of significant stress for students with LDs. Secondary students are expected to take on much more responsibility for their own learning while managing multiple transitions per day, relationships with multiple teachers, an increased workload, and increasingly complex subject matter in their courses.

It is important to know your students in order to understand what might cause them stress. Both the student profile and the Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be valuable sources of information for understanding specific areas of difficulty, which often cause stress. Additionally, ensure ongoing classroom observations are documented and pay attention to the activities that provoke signs of stress. Learn which situations they can handle, and which ones require additional support. Be sure to provide students with opportunities to participate in activities that they find meaningful and through which they can bolster their sense of competence and confidence.

There are a number of strategies that educators can use to help address the needs of their students experiencing higher stress levels. Remember that each student’s needs are unique, and it is important to know your students in order to select appropriate strategies. Having ongoing conversations with guidance counselors, special education resource teachers, administrators and parents can help to establish a better understanding of what triggers stress in a particular student and can help in the development of a plan for supporting the student during stressful situations. 

Strategies for Addressing Student Stressors in the Classroom

Click here to access the document Strategies for Addressing Student Stressors in the Classroom. 

When students inevitably experience stress, using empathy is often the best place to start. It begins with noticing a student who may be struggling, finding an opportunity to pull the student aside, and listening to their concerns.

Talking with Students about Mental Health

Click here to access the document Talking with Students about Mental Health, which will help guide your conversation when you think a student is experiencing stress or distress. 

[1] Sparks & Lovett, 2009