As a protective parent, I fear for the mental and emotional health of our children as they push themselves to extreme levels in their pursuit of academic excellence. While a Director of a learning center, my staff and I supported brilliant 9th graders trying their hardest to handle the pressures of AP calculus, physics, chemistry, etc. Though extremely bright, these students had the emotional state and mental stamina of their peers. Yet, they took courses at the college level at the age of 14 or 15…not to mention that these students also faced the tremendous challenges of transitioning from middle school to high school. I worried for them and gave them as much encouragement as possible. My tutoring sessions (rare since my role as Director did not allow for much tutoring time) with the students included tips on effective study skills to manage school and life priorities. Sometimes, the overworked students just needed a few peaceful moments to ground them and put all the pressure into perspective before they tackled their schoolwork. Most days, I literally had a line out the door consisting of frazzled students who needed a quick hug, a word of encouragement, or honest feedback on their work. My office became a haven where we had candid discussions without judgement.
For all those students who are in the same pressure filled boat, I wanted to share these tips that a psychology teacher handed out as a guide to his class. I found some of them unconventional and almost comical, but worth a try. :)
Some of the tips that made me smile:
· Pet a friendly dog or cat (as opposed to a ferocious one)
· Clean out your closet (wonder how many students would do this even if desperate to cope with stress)
· Play patty cake with a baby (ideally one with sufficient motor skills)
I appreciate this teacher’s caring for his students. It’s not all about the grades all the time. Somewhere in the pursuit for excellence, kids deserve a chance to be kids. For moral or academic support, give me a call. Everyone needs help now and then, especially in today's competitive academic arena.