Affecting focus and memory, and often accompanied by depression and a panic disorder, social anxiety is a serious condition that can have a negative impact on your child's learning. These five learning resources can help your child cope, both in and out of the classroom.
Social Anxiety and Learning
The frequent worry characteristic of social anxiety can drain mental and emotional energy, leaving children sleepless, frazzled, and ill-prepared for common school tasks. Fortunately, there are numerous learning resources for children with social anxiety, helping them to both master their school curriculum and better manage their anxiety issues.
#1: Classroom Accommodations
If your child has been diagnosed with social anxiety, he or she is entitled to certain classroom accommodations, known collectively as a ''504 Plan,'' to promote learning. The goal is to keep students with disabilities from falling behind in the classroom.
Typical accommodations include:
- Avoiding reading aloud in class or solving a math problem at the board
- Submitting a written essay instead of doing an oral presentation
- Having a parent(s) or guardian(s) along on a field trip for extra support
- Choosing a seating arrangement that will defuse stressful situations
- Taking voluntary stress breaks when needed
Great care must be taken by both the teacher and your child to deflect undue attention from such accommodations, which may be noticed and resented by classmates.
Your child might benefit from the services of a tutor, who can present and review material outside of the potentially intimidating school environment. Whether the tutor meets with your child in person or they work together online, the focus of the tutoring sessions will be on the curriculum and your child's individual needs.
Although some schools offer peer tutoring, this may not be the ideal solution for a child with social anxiety. An adult tutor should have the experience and social skills needed to avoid triggering your child's anxiety.
#3: Online Learning
Whether used for remediation or as an adjunct to traditional classroom instruction, online classes can be a powerful learning resource for those with social anxiety. Online learning allows students to work independently, free from anxiety-provoking social situations.
If your child has misgivings about being able to learn well in a classroom with other students, even with 504 Plan accommodations, online learning can provide reassurance. With self-paced lessons and interactive exercises, online classes allow your child to focus solely on the curriculum, without the potential for social anxiety.
#4: Home-Based Learning
If your child's social anxiety is severe, you might consider a home-based learning solution. Many states now offer alternative public schooling, such as cyber schools, which group students in virtual classrooms led by state-certified teachers. The virtual classroom environment includes real-time interactions with other students, while shielding your child from many social situations that might provoke anxiety.
Homeschooling is another option for some parents of students with social anxiety. Even if you don't have any teaching experience, there are plenty of available resources to guide you, such as online lessons, exercises, and quizzes.
In a homeschooling arrangement, your child might be the only student in the class, or might share the home classroom with siblings. Consider joining a homeschooling cooperative to give your child opportunities for peer socialization in a controlled environment.
#5: Journaling and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Journaling can help your child gain some perspective about the worries and fears associated with social situations at school. A journal offers a ''safe space'' for your child to express and understand the effects of social anxiety. Within the pages of a personal journal, kept securely at home, your child is free from concerns about the judgment of others.
Through writing, your child can explore both anxiety triggers and the resulting feelings and behaviors. Recording these triggers and reactions can help him or her analyze how the events played out in real life. This will help your child develop more realistic thinking about what might happen in a given situation.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, which uses rational thought to navigate emotional or psychological difficulties, can also be an effective way for your child to learn how to cope with school situations that trigger social anxiety. For example, a therapist could help your child develop a systematic desensitization approach to social anxiety triggers, such as speaking in front of a group.
Learning to Manage Social Anxiety
The support you give your child will enable him or her to succeed academically, despite the difficulties associated with a social anxiety disorder. To give your child more tools for scholastic success, consider the wide range of middle school and high school courses available on Study.com.