The beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for students. Stress and anxiety take a big toll on student happiness. We all know that stress can negatively affect our bodies and our health, but stress also negatively affects the learning process. See the 10 Biggest Ways Emotions Affect Learning from Mindshift.
Studies have shown that heightened mood positively correlates with productivity. Therefore, happier students equal more engaged students! Watch this TED presentation from Shawn Achor on “Happiness and Productivity”
As Shawn points out, we need to find a way to increase happiness in the present. What are some things we can do right now in class to help students reduce stress and feel happier?
Here are some other things that you might consider:
Meditation helps to quiet the mind. We live in a chaotic society where students are often over stimulated by media, technology and more. Meditation is known to reduce stress but in the classroom it has also been shown to reduce behavioral problems. Infographic | Meditation in Schools Across the U.S.
Remember recess? It did serve a greater purpose than just getting students out of the classroom for 15-30 minutes. Exercise produces endorphins in the brain which improves mood and mental clarity. Dr. Charles Hillman of the University of Illinois said "It's good for attention, it's good for how fast individuals process information, and how they perform on cognitive tasks".
Research shows the people who have a creative outlet experience increased happiness. Some schools may be scarce on Arts programming, but anything you can add to your classroom makes a difference. Whether it’s acting out a scene from a book, writing a song or rap about a topic or creating a piece of art to represent something, creative projects improve cognitive skills and increase critical thinking!
How would you rate your students' stress levels? What will you try this year to improve happiness?