Academic Anxiety In Our Children Can Be Managed When We Understand It’s Root Cause

Understanding The Feelings Of Our Children Is Key To Guiding Them Towards Success When They Are Experiencing Academic Anxiety.
Written by Marcus Lau, Cowritten by Rhiannon Lewis

As parents and educators, we hold key roles in the beautiful journey of our children’s growth, from their early years to adolescence. This time in their lives is filled with excitement, learning, change and discoveries. As they navigate through their different educational adventures, it’s natural for them to encounter obstacles that might make them feel anxious. By joining forces and working together, we can help them understand and manage these feelings, setting them on a path to becoming resilient individuals.

The sources of academic anxiety vary as much as our children and students themselves. Some may feel the aspirations we hold for them, driving them to reach academic pinnacles or shine in certain areas. Others might self-impose these goals, motivated by personal ambitions or worries about fitting in with peers. Individual learning differences can also influence their educational experiences. In our modern era, the brisk pace of technological advancements in education can pose yet another layer of challenge. And let’s remember the intricate social dynamics of school life – where friendships, peer interactions, and the quest for belonging intersect deeply with academics.

Recognizing that academic anxiety is a natural response to these multifaceted challenges is our shared first step. It’s not about “curing” or “combating” the anxiety; it’s about understanding its existence and guiding our young ones toward supportive strategies.

Fostering Organizational Skills

One of the most empowering skills we can instil is organization. Beyond tidy notebooks or digital folders, it encompasses managing time and responsibilities. Introducing planners, designating specific times for tasks, and breaking assignments into digestible pieces can give them a sense of mastery over their schedules and reduce the stresses associated with balancing various commitments.

Try These

  • Pomodoro Technique: This time management method breaks work into short, focused intervals (usually 25 minutes), known as “pomodoros”, followed by a short break. It’s especially effective for maintaining focus and motivation.
  • Color-Coding: Using different colors for subjects or task types can make a visual distinction in planners or calendars. This method can quickly give an overview of upcoming tasks.
  • Weekly Review: Set aside a specific time each week to review upcoming tasks, assignments, and time commitments. This not only helps with planning but reinforces the importance of preparation and forethought.

Mapping Out Goals

Goal setting can be compared to placing stepping stones towards achievement. By introducing kids to the concept of SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound – we illuminate their academic journey. These goals bring about clarity, concentration, and a means to monitor progress, reducing feelings of being lost amid assignments and anticipations.

Cultivating Self-Awareness

Every child and student brings unique strengths and growth areas to the table. Engaging them with a range of instructional methods not only enhances their academic engagement and motivation but also helps them discern their preferred learning styles. This method resonates with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. UDL underscores the value of providing students with diverse means of engagement, action, expression, and representation to effectively comprehend and leverage their learning preferences.

Try These

  • Engage in open conversations with your child to deepen their self-understanding. Here are some guiding questions to begin with:
    1. Strengths and Growth Areas: “What do you think are your strongest subjects or skills? Which areas would you like to improve upon?”
    2. Learning Preferences: “How do you feel most comfortable learning? Through watching, listening, or doing?”
    3. Classroom Experiences: “Which class do you feel you learn the most in? Why is that?”
    4. Teaching Techniques: “Think about a time you really understood and enjoyed a lesson. What was the teacher doing? Were they showing slides, having a discussion, or doing hands-on activities?”
    5. Feelings of Success: “Can you recall a time when you felt particularly successful in learning? What was the environment like? Were you working in a group, studying alone, or maybe with background music?”
  • By actively seeking answers to these questions, parents can get invaluable insights into their child’s unique learning profile, empowering them to tailor their support more effectively.
  • For a deeper understanding of the myths surrounding learning styles and the benefits of exposing students to varied learning approaches, consult this research:

Championing Self-Advocacy


It’s essential to encourage our kids and students to articulate their feelings and needs. This involves fostering open conversations at home and in the classroom to ensure they know their avenues for support. No child should feel isolated in their academic journey.

Our roles as educators and parents intertwine, influencing a child’s academic lens. Together, our combined support can shape an experience of wonder, curiosity, and determination.

In conclusion, while academic anxieties are part of the learning journey, they don’t have to overshadow the exhilaration of discovery. Through united understanding, guidance, and resources, we can accompany our children and students, ensuring they navigate their formative years with self-assuredness, ready to embrace the world’s vast opportunities.

Marcus Lau is an educator with over five years of teaching experience spanning secondary schools and higher education institutions. With an MEd in Special and Inclusive Education from the University of British Columbia (UBC), he presently serves as a seminar instructor at UBC. Beyond teaching, Marcus has played a pivotal role as a Behaviour Interventionist. Deeply committed to inclusive education, he advocates for the implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and champions full inclusion across various educational systems.”

Rhiannon Lewis is an educational professional with experience in instructional design, teaching, curriculum development, and education research. She holds a BSc. in Biology, a BEd. in Secondary Education with a STEM specialization, and is currently pursuing an MEd. in Curriculum Studies at UBC. Rhiannon is passionate about curriculum change initiatives that better support the current needs of students, and believes that the most beneficial learning environment is one in which learners feel safe and supported to try new things, make mistakes, learn, and grow.


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