The concept of work-life balance can be a little overwhelming for students. Giving kids piles of homework paired with the responsibility of mastering the content independently, without a teacher by their side, can significantly affect their mental health.
You can observe a few changes in your student’s behavior if he is not feeling well mentally. Following are the signs that, as a teacher, you can observe among your students to understand better what they are going through mentally.
Body Language Signs
Sometimes students cannot express their mental health by speaking up, but you, as an Elementary teacher, can notice the difference in their body language. Teachers must understand the basics of body language, as it will help them find what is going on in their students’ minds.
Pay attention to whether the kid looks nervous or sad, whether he is talking with others or sitting silently. You can also see whether his legs are shaking or not, or if they’re fidgeting with their fingers. These are some things kids often do when they want to express something but don’t have the words or courage to do so.
If you understand the body language signs, you have more insight into their mental and physical health by just looking at a student.
Mental health doesn’t just affect a person’s body language; it also affects his social circle. You can notice whether a child is behaving normally in class with his friends or not.
Two things can happen when a kid is facing some issues with his mental health.
The first one is that he will pull himself away from everyone else. He will start sitting or playing alone. He will do the task at hand, play at recess, or eat lunch, but by himself.
The other thing can be that he is engaging with others too much. For example, a shy kid who couldn’t talk with strangers comfortably is now speaking with everyone. A sudden and drastic change in behavior can be a warning sign. Although it can happen for other reasons, you can discuss it with the student or his parents if you feel it seems out of character.
Signs in Student’s Grades
Grades are another thing that the mental health of a student will impact. Students can get distracted from their studies because they don’t know how to handle the issues that are causing their mental stress. This can directly impact their grades.
Being a teacher, you are aware of the performance of every student in your class. If you find that a bright student’s grades are dropping or that a kid with average grades cannot get passing marks in an exam, it can be a signal about his mental health. If their work is consistently declining, you should not avoid stepping in to find the cause. Discuss the reason for the fall in his grades with him or his parent and determine the cause.
Signs in Diet
Another factor that you can observe among students is their diet. When under lots of stress, mental or otherwise, a person’s appetite tends to decrease.
For your students, this means they may not finish their lunch or will eat slowly.
If you oversee their lunch period, you can keep an eye on your students’ eating habits; you can even check whether their lunchbox or lunch tray is empty or not.
If you notice a pattern in a child’s eating, you can ask the student. It might be as simple as they don’t like the food, but it could be more complicated. If it’s the latter, consider discussing this with the parents.
The Process of Teacher-Parent Communication
Even if you notice a slight change in your student’s behavior, the first thing you can do is talk to his parent and try to figure out what he is going through. Parents of students are going to know better what their kids might have been feeling.
You might find that there is some family problem going on — tension between parents or a change in living arrangements– around him or someone is bullying him. Whatever the reason is, by talking to their parents you might discover the issue, and then try to resolve it.
Students have a soft heart. Thus, even the slightest thing can disturb them. Mental health can affect their physical health as well.
As a teacher, you spend a considerable amount of time with your students. You need to notice these tell-tale signs of declining mental health so you can help the child get the necessary care.
Use the above tips to keep an eye on your students’ behavior, so you can intervene if necessary. Your keen observations can go a long way in helping your students succeed long-term!