A recent study found that the global pandemic and its accompanying social and cultural changes have significantly impacted the mental health and stress of children and teens. And the CDC warns that levels of stress and anxiety in children continue to rise. Yet the science of how stress affects a student’s ability to learn and excel in the classroom–especially when it comes to reading comprehension–is rarely discussed.
Teachers who want to support optimal reading comprehension must equip themselves with a deeper understanding of why stress is so harmful to students’ reading, and what they can do about it.
The growing problem of student stress
Not only are stress rates rising in children, but researchers are finding that stress and anxiety (like other negative emotions) are actually contagious amongst kids. Simply observing another person in stress has been shown to increase the biomarkers of stress in yourself, and the contagious elements of your emotions start even earlier than you may think: One study found that children were able to “catch” their mother’s stress levels.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, some of the most common triggers of stress in children include:
- Pressure about grades or schoolwork;
- Managing all of their different commitments, from school to work to play; and
- Problems in the schoolyard, such as bullying or peer pressure.
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