School Made Easier: An Strategy Guide for Your Anxious Child

school easierWith a new school year kicking into gear, Magination Press has two new school anxiety books that debuted in August. One is School Made Easier: A Kid’s Guide to Study Strategies and Anxiety-Busting Tools. Book authors Wendy Moss and Robin DeLuca-Acconi teamed up to create this handy guide geared toward students aged 8 to 13.

About the Book

The first few weeks of school can start with a whirl of excitement, but that excitement can quickly turn into stress and anxiety once the assignments and expectations start piling up. School Made Easier helps children take care of that stress and anxiety with common-sense, easy-to-try tips.

Some of these tips include learning how to:

  • Pinpoint the difference between external and internal stress
  • Take action to decrease both types of stress
  • Reduce anxiety prior to tests, presentations and other typically stressful situations
  • Stop losing important papers and assignments
  • Keep your locker and book bag neat and organized
  • Use your time efficiently
  • Engage in relaxation techniques
  • Make homework time effective
  • Make ­studying fun

The last one is such a good one that it bears repeating. Yes, this book has suggestions on ways you can make studying fun. Ever try a studying material by setting it up like the game of Jeopardy, for instance?

The book further enhances the tips with real-life scenarios based on composites of actual issues Moss and DeLuca-Accouni have encountered through their work with children.

Children want to know, for instance:

  • How to get more free time that’s “me time”
  • Ways to cope with high grade or other expectations from parents or other adults
  • What to do when a teacher “hates them,” or at least it feels like the teacher hates them
  • Why school is even necessary if they want to take on a job like being a chef, which only requires knowing how to cook, right?

Overall, this book serves as a one-stop guide that can soothe school anxiety and stress that stems from any number of causes while helping children develop healthy skills. Those skills, in turn, keep the anxiety and stress under check and can result in more positive school experience overall.

About the Authors

Wendy Moss and Robin DeLuca-Acconi both bring valuable insights and experience to the table when it comes to school anxiety issues.

Wendy Moss has worked in the field of psychology for three decades in hospital, residential and school settings. She also holds a doctorate in psychology and certification in school psychology. We previously reviewed her book, Being Me, which helps to build children’s self-confidence.

Robin DeLuca-Acconi has 15 years experience in social work, also in a variety of settings that include youth, community, schools and family counseling agencies. She is a licensed clinical social worker with certification in school social work.

Wendy and Robin agreed to answer several questions we posed, and there’s what they had to say:

What prompted you both to write the book?  

We saw that once students reached the upper-elementary and middle school years, many of them struggled with organizational skills. We also saw that students did not have a toolbox for dealing with the social and academic stresses that can occur during this period in their lives.

How are the causes of school stress and anxiety changing over the years?  For instance, what are the biggest stressors today we may have not have seen 10 years ago, or even five years ago?

We have observed that while there are many advantages to computer and Internet advances and programs, there are also some challenges that can occur when children have this available to them. The rapid availability of sometimes overwhelming amounts of information can be a big source of stress. In addition, there is sometimes an increased amount of stress caused by social networking. It used to be that if a student made a mistake at school only those who were in the immediate vicinity were there to see it. Now, everyone knows every mistake the second it occurs.

What’s one of the most common causes of school anxiety and what’s the best way to bust that anxiety?

The feeling that some students have, that they must be perfect at everything (the best student, the best athlete) can create enormous anxiety. If students take some time to think about this, they are likely to realize that no one person can be No. 1 at everything. Once they come to that realization, they can begin to restructure their thought process to accept their own strengths as well as weaknesses.  

What study strategy do you know now that you wish you knew when you were studying as a kid?

As children, we developed ways to deal with each school assignment, but did not think about having a specific plan for studying and doing homework. We would have benefited from knowing the variety of different organizational tips and executive functioning skills that we now know. With some quick tools for managing academic tasks, and some clear ways to work on emotional stress that schoolwork may sometimes lead to in some students, school can be easier to cope with and, even, enjoyable!

If children could walk away with one lesson from your book, what would it be?

That working hard at strategies that don’t work only leads to frustration. Learning game-like strategies that do work can make learning fun! Also, that there are many different strategies for studying and doing homework. Each child can pick the right strategy for him or herself.

What about parents, what lesson would you most want them to absorb from your book?

There are many children who want to be cooperative when you ask them to go to their rooms to study. Unfortunately, many students get to their rooms and don’t know how to begin their work or studying. Many children also feel so much anxiety about doing academic tasks that it is hard for them to focus on their work.

Parents and children may want to read parts of this book together and have fun practicing some of the tools offered. It can be enjoyable to experiment with different executive functioning strategies and ways to complete academic assignments.

Thank you, Wendy and Robin – and we bet loads of students and their parents will thank you, too!

Photo Credit: Ryn Gargulinski of Ryndustries, LLC