Our kids are bombarded by messages, images, media and other unseen pressures that can cause confusion, frustration, and upheavals in behavior. At school, teachers and administrators can be important resources for students as they face the big bad world. In this year’s annual round-up of private schools in Atlanta, we asked about the resources available to kids to help manage the stress of growing up. It’s not easy!
"Everyone experiences stress and frustration; however, it is important for students to learn healthy ways to manage these emotions. At William & Reed Academy, we believe that balance is crucial to one's quality of life, as balance helps to reduce overall levels of stress. Finding time to relax with family and friends is a great way to relieve stress, as these relationships provide support and connection. Exercise is another great option for relieving stress, especially since physical activity is known to releases endorphin which can help to elevate one's mood.” Head of School, Hunter Cluthe.
Infant through 5th grade (preschool and after school)
“We believe every child is both a scientist and an artist. We emphasize the arts (literacy, music, drama) AND the sciences (nature, technology, engineering, math). These skills aren’t just developed through structured learning time, but by allowing kids to creatively explore and interact. Every day, children need time to go to the STEM room or ART Studio or Town Center or Indoor Playground or Gym to learn through hands-on free play. Little minds need plenty of time to have fun. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to learn. That’s why we’ve created a place to run, jump, engage and explore.” Vanessa Zaczek, Program Director
In a number of recent studies, students site three main stress points caused by school: academic anxiety, social concerns, and general anxiety. At The Cottage School, our three pillars of strength support the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students. Through small class sizes (no more than 10 students in a class, 4th – 12th grade) and experienced teachers, a vigorous anti-bullying campaign (Be the Voice), and a program that supports our students’ emotional needs (a comprehensive counseling program), TCS provides our school community with the tools and strategies to fulfill their true potential as confident, productive, and independent adults.
Lynn Bosworth, Elementary School Principal
“To help manage stress and pressure, I recommend that elementary-aged children talk to their parents, who can help them understand that they do not have to be perfect and that mistakes are a normal part of life; make plenty of time for creative play and outdoor activities; and maintain an adequate sleep schedule and predictable routine.” Erica Pendleton, LPC, School Counselor
“We know free play is integral to the academic and social success of our students—just take it from our classes who enjoy a quick sprint around the building before solving a tough math problem! Knowing how important physical activity is for young minds, we take our playgrounds seriously. We not only make frequent use of them (our prekindergarten students enjoy recess twice a day, plus a daily P.E. class), but also task our youngest students with a project-based activity to simulate their ideal playground. Our students’ involvement highlights just how much we value their opinions and our playground spaces.” Erica Wiltshire, Primary School Assistant Principal, Woodward Academy
“As school leaders we have a tremendous opportunity to guide students toward improved mental well-being. We equip students with time management strategies but also provide more time within the school day to get their work done, communicate with teachers, and pause to prepare for whatever’s next. Our revised daily schedule creates a less frenetic pace and more time for self-growth. Additionally, though students are natives in the social media landscape, we help them decrease stress through self-regulation of activities on various social platforms. Finally, we support mindfulness, meditation, and brain breaks through exercise to better manage stress and pressure.”Jonathan Merrill, Upper School Principal, Woodward Academy
And, for pre-schoolers, blowing off steam has added benefits of building social skills and cooperation.
“Our playground has large open spaces to run and be free as well as two play structures and a total of 4 swings. In addition to our playground, our children also take care of our raised garden beds and enjoy learning about the plant’s life cycle, beneficial garden insects, and eating the food we grow! Depending on the weather and how much work there is to be done in the garden our children can spend more than an hour outside each day.” Lauren Martin, Assistant Director.