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The Mālama Ola Minute is a series brought to you by the Kamehameha Schools Mālama Ola Division to increase awareness, promote discussion, and offer tools to improve the physical and mental health of our haumāna.

Mālama Ola Minute: Five tips to help keiki cope with academic anxiety

Mar. 9, 2022

School stress is serious business. Although not all students find school stressful, in today's environment of high-stakes testing and increased competitiveness in college admissions, experts worry that academic stress without enough down time, can take a serious toll on students.

Here are five ways to help your keiki cope with school stress which can help to ease academic anxiety. 

1. Watch for signs of school-related stress.
With teens, parents should watch for stress-related behaviors including expressions of despair or hopelessness, however casual the comments may sound. Younger keiki may have more subtle signs of school stress, like headaches, stomachaches or reluctance to go to school.

2. Reinforce time-management skills.
With today's heavy homework loads, time management and organizational skills are crucial weapons against stress, experts say. Help your child to budget their time wisely with homework. Try to do a little bit of work every night instead of cramming at the last moment.

Here are some stress-relieving homework tips:

  • Use a planner to keep track of assignments. When they finish each assignment, they can check them off for a feeling of accomplishment.
  • If your keiki struggle with tracking their homework, help them by following along with homework if their kumu posts assignments online.
  • Give your child a quiet place to study, free of distractions, away from TV and video games.
  • If possible, have them study earlier rather than later in the day. The later it is for most students, the shorter their attention span.
  • Connect with your childʻs school counselor if you notice they are struggling academically.

3. Consider whether your child is over-scheduled.
Over-scheduling is a big source of school stress. Many high schoolers enroll in several advanced placement courses while trying to keep up with extracurricular activities. Try to fill your child’s schedules with more sleep, down time, and family time to help ease the load.

The goal is to strike a balance between work and play. If your child feels overly stressed and overwhelmed, look for ways to cut back on extra school work and activities.

4. Encourage sleep, exercise and family mealtimes.

  • Adequate sleep alone can make a huge difference in keiki stress levels. Children ages three to six should get 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. Seven- to 12-year-olds should get 10 to 11 hours per night, and kids 12 to 18 years old should strive for eight to nine hours per night.
  • Exercise is an excellent outlet for stress, so make sure that your kids are being physically active.
  • Family time is also crucial for cushioning stress. Meals are a good time to connect with your keiki. Try sitting down together for mealtime several times a week. Use the time to listen to your children and communicate with them.

5. Be mindful of parental pressure.

Finding a balance between pushing to excel and pushing too hard can be difficult, but continuing to check-in with your child, can set everyone up for success. An important factor in knowing how and when to push is thinking about your childʻs personality. You know your keiki best, consider their strengths, interests, and include them in the conversation. Itʻs important to ensure that they are getting opportunities to feel good about their achievements.


School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say
Hawaii Public Radio

Stress in School
Accredited School Online

Reducing Academic Pressure May Help Children Succeed
American Psychological Association

When to Push Your Children: And How to Know if You’re Pushing too Hard
Child Mind Institute


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