Tips For Tutors: How To Help Manage Student Stress

November 10, 2022

Stress Awareness Week raises awareness about the mental burdens of everyday life and the tools needed to prevent them. In recognition of this, we have been looking at how tutors can better manage their students' stress and anxiety around school work and exam confidence. 

Too often we focus on pushing for the highest academic achievement instead of what's best for the individual, likely resulting in students having more stress and anxiety than ever before. In this blog, we’ve suggested a couple of ways tutors can help make stress less of a norm for their students and help support them through their studies. 

Where does the stress come from? 

Entering each academic year there will be new challenges students have to face. Normally they will be adjusting to a new year group with higher expectations, new classes and teachers. This can result in students struggling to stay on top of demands and falling behind, which in turn, can massively affect stress-levels and classroom performance. 

Typical factors that lead to increased stress for students include many different forms of bullying as well as social and academic pressures. A lot of the time these pressures can be unintentional too. Parents and teachers often tend to push high, and competing against peers can knock students' confidence. It’s therefore important that their tutor doesn’t add to this pressure and can offer support and guidance, which helps alleviate where student’s stress and anxiety is coming from. 

How do you recognise the stress? 

Stress comes in many different shapes and sizes; so the issue is not usually simple to resolve. While it is important to encourage students to identify their own stress independently, these are some symptoms their tutor could be on the lookout for: 

Cognitive symptoms of stress - difficulties with memory or concentration, consistent feelings of anxiety, worrying or negative thoughts. 

Behavioural symptoms of stress - anger or being irritable, anxious or nervous behaviour, feeling depressed, overwhelmed or afraid. 

Physical symptoms of stress - panic attacks, breathing difficulties, irregular sleeping pattern, fatigue, dramatic changes in weight, feeling dizzy and sick, existing health problems getting worse.

Another part to mention, is that stress doesn’t have to be completely bad. There is such a thing as ‘good’ stress which can help push your students to achieve their goals and deadlines. That’s why it’s critical to encourage students to be able to use stress to their advantage, the next few steps will help give you possible insight on how that can happen. 

Form strong connections 

Creating a positive rapport with your students is the key to unlocking successful lessons and more exam confidence. Student’s that learn in a comfortable environment tend to be more open about their learning and the issues they are facing which makes it easier to tackle them together. Get to know your student first, find out where their interests lie, what areas they want to focus on and how they prefer to learn before preparing your lesson material. This will help you personalise and perfect things to meet target goals.

One of the greatest benefits of private tuition is that students and their tutors can maintain a genuine connection through one-to-one learning. Something that is much harder to produce in a classroom setting where there are distractions at every corner. Tutors can therefore concentrate more heavily on how to approach that individual student’s needs and adapt their teaching style accordingly to result in more positive outcomes. 

Integrate time keeping into your teaching

Organisation is very important to help reduce student’s stress levels, sometimes they need that extra push from their tutors. Help your students create a plan that helps them comfortably meet deadlines, stay motivated and lower their anxiety. 

Tutors often use the SMART goals system, an acronym introduced by professor Robert Rubin, to help make sure students are utilising their time effectively and efficiently:

Specific - What do I want to accomplish?

Measurable - How will I know when this has been accomplished?

Achievable - How can I accomplish this goal?

Relevant - Is this worthwhile focus over other goals? 

Time-bound - How long will it take to accomplish this?

This is a positive checklist to use to set goals for and your students are working on, without making it appear as if they have extra deadlines which can induce stress. 

Acknowledge effort and keep encouraging 

Just as it's good to address and improve upon students' weaknesses, it's also important to recognise their strengths and help them take advantage of this. Confidence needs to be built, and continuous positive reinforcement will go a long way for this. Therefore, students will be more comfortable taking risks that could push them to higher grades. 

It’s important for both the tutor, parents and students to recognise that everyone learns at a different pace and what techniques may work for one student doesn’t necessarily correspond to the next. Make sure that students know about their alternative options too, the worst thing a student can do is get into the mindset that they have to have completed a particular thing successfully in order to take value into their own achievement. Instead show them what they have accomplished since lessons began with regular feedback. 

What do you think?

We may not be able to solve every problem, however dedicating the right amount of time for your students to be able to reflect and open up about the challenges they are facing will help support them to reach their full (stress-free) potential.

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Sadiyah Zaman

Sadiyah is our Senior Content Writer who combines her background in design and writing to create compelling educational content for Tutor House. When she's not managing her foster cat's mischievous antics, she can be found with a warm cup of coffee, meticulously crafting her next written masterpieces.

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