In a public school classroom with thirty other students, it can feel overwhelming for teens with social anxiety to speak up and participate in class discussions. They may worry about other people judging what they say or feel ashamed for not participating often. This can also make it hard for them to get to know other students. Instead, they may sit in the back of the classroom and tune out other people’s voices when they get overwhelmed, which can affect their ability to stay caught up on course material. At residential treatment centers, small class sizes are designed to support students with social anxiety by empowering them to be an active participant in the classroom.
How Does Social Anxiety Affect School Performance?
Anxiety can affect learning in a variety of ways–from feeling nervous before a test at school to avoiding asking teachers clarifying questions to a fear of going to school and feeling alone. Sometimes kids will do perfectly well on tests and homework, but when they’re called on in class teachers hit a wall in trying to engage students. They might have been paying attention to the lesson and they might even know the answer, but when they’re called on their anxiety level becomes so heightened that they can’t respond.
Some kids will avoid or even refuse to participate in things that make them anxious. This includes obvious anxiety triggers like giving presentations, but also things like gym class, eating in the cafeteria, and doing group work.
When teens start skipping classes or assignments to avoid facing social anxiety, it might look to their teachers and peers like they are uninterested or underachieving, but the opposite might be true. Often, teens with social anxiety avoid things because they are afraid of making a mistake or being judged. When teens are excessively self-conscious, it can make it difficult for them to participate in class and socialize with peers.
The Power of Individualized Instruction
For many teens who struggle with anxiety in social situations, they have a much easier time showing what they know when teachers engage with them one-on-one or away from the group. It is easy for these students to slip under the radar, as teachers tend to focus on students who are more vocal in the classroom, including both those who are active participants and those who are disruptive. While staying after class to ask questions or opting to submit written responses to show that they are engaged with the material are helpful alternatives, many teachers do not have additional time to dedicate to personalizing an academic plan for each student.
With smaller class sizes and opportunities for tutoring or academic advising, students with social anxiety are given space to develop the skills they need to be successful in the classroom.
Accommodations for Social Anxiety in Residential Treatment
Residential treatment centers that offer accredited academic programs are better prepared to make accommodations for students with social anxiety by offering a supportive learning environment.
The Academic Director at Solstice West reviews all student records (transcripts, report cards, neuropsychiatric testing, educational testing, etc.) and ensures placement in the correct classes in order to facilitate successful learning, credit remediation or recovery, and to keep the student on track for high school graduation. An academic plan for each student is developed to address any and all academic concerns, including seemingly unrelated mental health struggles like social anxiety.
By offering 5 school quarters year-round and rolling admissions, teachers are better able to work with students on an individual basis to test their comprehension and use creative strategies to help teens with different learning styles succeed. With class sizes of up to eight students, group discussions feel less overwhelming and it is easier for students to get to know their classmates. Teachers also work closely with the treatment team to understand how teens with social anxiety are adjusting to the therapeutic milieu and how their outside social interactions may affect how engaged they are in class.
Solstice RTC Can Help
Solstice West is a residential treatment program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls and assigned female at birth to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Through groups on various topics, girls and assigned female at birth learn to become more aware of their emotions and to express them appropriately to others. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.
For more information, call 866-278-3345. We can help your child address how social anxiety affects their learning and work towards success in and out of the classroom.