A teacher reassuring a young student

How to help students settle in the new school year

The new school year can be quite stressful for children and anxiety can snowball as the year progresses. This stress can end up affecting their grades. It can also impact on their self-esteem as well as their relationship with their teachers.


Fortunately, there are some things you, as a teacher, can do to make school life and stresses easier to handle. A gentle adjustment period with our tips to help students settle in can make a huge difference to their confidence levels.


Be aware of the causes of stress


Different students have different worries. Some may be worried about the new environment while others are concerned about not being able to make friends. Teenage students will have different stressors than younger children.


As a teacher, it is your responsibility to keep an eye out for your students. If you pay attention, you can usually see when a student is getting overwhelmed. This way, you can help them identify what is causing them distress.


Once you know the cause, you can gently guide them towards coping strategies best suited to them.

september stressed child - How to help students settle in the new school year


Be clear about your expectations and repercussions


Children expect boundaries. They are most comfortable when they know what is expected of them. Children may test the limits of your boundaries, but they appreciate knowing what the rules are.


At the same time, they also need to have a clear idea of the repercussions. It can be very stressful for them not to know what the consequences are. This is why it is important to define exactly what they can expect if they display unacceptable behaviour.


Finally, it is extremely important to be consistent. If you say there will be consequences for certain behaviour, follow through with it. Also, if you promised a certain consequence, don’t go beyond that. Not following through makes students lose respect for you. However, if you don’t manage their expectations, they won’t trust you.


Create a balance between challenge and support


Children like being challenged. They like having to apply themselves to solve problems. This is why it is important to know each child’s capabilities so that you can challenge them without overwhelming them. This is sometimes difficult as a supply teacher but it is recommended that you ask about your class and individual needs before you start your day.


It is also important to provide children with proper support. This keeps them focused on the problem rather than the consequences of failing. It helps them keep things in perspective, preventing them from burning out or falling to excessive stress. Providing proper support is essential in helping children manage and cope with stress.


Sometimes, it can be helpful to assign a special friend or a buddy, especially for new starters. Having someone ‘on their team’ means they don’t have to deal with their problems by themselves. It also alleviates the stress of not having a friend or worrying about being alone.

september childrenlearning - How to help students settle in the new school year


Teach children how to improve themselves


What happens when you praise students for their ability or the results they achieved? They become more focused on results instead of the process. If, on the other hand, you praise the effort they put it, it tells them that they can improve and that trying their best is more important than being good at something.


This helps foster a growth mindset.


What is a growth mindset? It is the ability to adapt to unknown situations without worrying about not being able to cope.


The ability to improvise and improve even in an unfamiliar situation can help students achieve their full potential without getting bogged down by self-doubt and fear.


This mindset is characterised by the following:

  • Seeking feedback on how to improve
  • Trying harder and longer to solve problems
  • Coping better with change


You can encourage your students to develop this resilient mindset. In addition to focusing on effort more than the results, you can instil this attitude. You can also ask them questions that encourage such thinking.


Further reading


For more information on how to create a better learning environment for your students, go through these articles.

A guide to the Montessori teaching style

Five tips for helping introverted students 

Advice for first-time teaching assistants


In summary, you need to encourage the right attitude in your students as well as provide the right environment in which they can bloom. If you give them the tools to deal with stress, they will develop into confident and curious people.


If you are looking for more information or would like to learn more about how we can help you, get in touch with us today. Our team will discuss your options with you.

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