What if students had 14-hour days with few breaks, loads of work, and lots of stress? This is not unusual for many struggling students. What happens when students have to deal with all of this day after day? They may burn out in school.
School Burnout is when kids are so stressed and tired that they don’t have any energy left for the things they love. It can happen when they have too much to do and not enough time to relax.
Of course, some stress is healthy for kids. It can help them learn and grow. But too much stress can be harmful.
At first, kids may be able to keep up with their work even when they’re stressed. But eventually, the stress will take a toll. They may start to feel anxious and exhausted. And they may lose interest in the things they used to enjoy.
The road to school burnout
It’s important to understand what our children go through every day and the amount of stress they may feel. Let’s take a look at this scenario:
A 10-grader wakes up at 5:30 am and leaves for school at 6:15 am. Although the first period starts at 7:15 am, this student arrives early for extra help with word problems from their math teacher. During the day, the student has a full schedule of academic work in their regular classes and works with a reading specialist twice a week. Sometimes, the teachers may overlook the student’s needs, so the child has to self-advocate during class.
After school, the student spends two hours either playing soccer or attending band practice, which they love and do very well. However, once they get home at 6 pm, they have two or three hours of homework waiting for them. It can take them longer than their peers to finish their work, which means their day, starting before 7 am, may not end until 8 or 9 pm.
By the weekend, the student is exhausted and may burst into tears over minor things or complain about going to their tutor. These signs of burnout continue into the new week, leaving the student with the same schedule, stress, and frustration. The tenth-grader may be able to push through it for a while, but eventually, they will lose their energy and enthusiasm for both studying and extracurricular activities.
Sounds exhausting right?
What are the things that can make kids with learning and thinking differences feel overwhelmed and exhausted?
Anyone can get burned out, but kids who learn and think differently may be more likely to burn out in school. Here are some reasons why:
- Kids with learning and thinking differences may have to work harder or longer than their peers to get the same results.
- They may also get extra help, like tutoring or therapy, which can add to their workload.
- And kids with attention problems may have to work hard just to focus, which can make it hard to finish their work even if they spend a lot of time on it.
- Kids can’t control or change their learning and thinking differences. This can make them feel stressed and victimized.
- It can also hurt their self-esteem, which can make them less motivated and make it harder for them to learn.
- And because they know what it feels like to fail, they may be more anxious about their performance, which can add to their stress.
- Kids with learning and thinking differences may have adults in their lives who try to help and motivate them, but this can sometimes make kids feel more pressure.
- Well-meaning family members and professionals may try to squeeze too much learning into homework, or therapy sessions, which can feel overwhelming.
- Finally, kids with learning and thinking differences may have friends who don’t understand what they’re going through, which can make them feel lonely and isolated.
How to help kids avoid feeling overwhelmed and exhausted in school
Helping your child to avoid burnout at school is essential, and there are two great ways you can do it!
- Encouraging them to develop time management skills and take effective work breaks can make all the difference. Keep an eye out for signs of stress and take a look at these tips to prevent burnout.
- Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teachers, IEP team, or tutors for ideas on how to reduce the amount of extra work your child is getting. If you’re worried that your child’s burnout may be due to anxiety or depression, please talk to the school nurse or your child’s healthcare provider. They can suggest consulting with a mental health professional if necessary. Remember, we’re in this together!
In Homework in a Cafe we are also ready to support you and your child to overcome any struggle you or your child might be facing! Contact us now.