Pressure to do well at school

Pressure to do well at school has been shown to increase stress and anxiety in students, leading to poorer physical, social and emotional health. Students can feel pressure from their parents, school, teachers, society or themselves to achieve higher grades and academic success.

Recognising the signs of stress and anxiety in our students, helping them to develop practical coping skills, working in partnership with parents, reinforcing the importance of balance, and establishing realistic expectations are all helpful approaches schools can take to support students who feel pressure to do well academically.

Top tips for supporting your students

  • Set clear and realistic expectations for class work, exams and assessments. Share help-seeking strategies students can use if they feel overwhelmed.

  • Remind your students that a growth mindset, where failure is seen as an opportunity for growth and learning, is a key aspect of success in secondary school.

  • Share with your students practical self-management strategies they can use to manage stress and anxiety, such as breathing and minfulness exercises, positive self-talk and practising gratitude. ReachOut.com has lots of helpful ideas to get them started.

  • Provide opportunities for your students to set realistic and achievable short-, medium- and long-term learning goals. Involving parents in this process can help align their expectations with their child’s.

  • Have open and honest conversations with your students around managing school work and study stress. Developing effective structures around time management, study and exam pressure early on in secondary school can make a big difference to students’ long-term wellbeing. Check out the following resources to share with students for ideas.

Classroom activities

Releasing the tension

One of the body’s reactions to fear, stress and anxiety is muscle tension. Feeling ‘tense’ can produce muscle aches and pains, and may leave some people feeling exhausted. This exercise uses progressive muscle relaxation to help students notice, release and manage muscle tension and reduce stress.

Check-in line

Sometimes students can’t explain how they are feeling. Using a continuum removes the pressure and enables students to convey visually how they are coping.

Emotional awareness and self-regulation

It’s essential for students to be able to identify their emotional experiences and to control their emotional responses to external events. Being able to cope with difficult situations and to assess different responses enables them to move forward.

Self-care hand

When students learn to look after themselves, it builds their self-confidence and helps them to focus more on the positive things in their life. There are some steps students can take to encourage the habit of self-care.

Ways to chill for cheap exercise

Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. This activity provides students with an opportunity to discuss different low-cost ways to chill out, and provides teachers with ways to create self-care opportunities for students at school.

Resources for students

ReachOut works with young people across Australia to develop content. You could share some of these resources with your students.

Practical strategies to help students with time management

Studying means managing a bunch of competing deadlines. It can be overwhelming and sometimes may feel impossible. Learn more about developing strategies for planning your time that will help you to stay calm, organised and on top of everything.

5 apps you need for school

Explore these 5 apps to help you manage with school.

5 key steps to study success

ReachOut did the homework on studying so you don’t have to. Learn more about ReachOut’s scientifically proven steps to study success.

Practical tips to help manage your time and pressure

Sometimes it feels like the list of things we need to get done is never-ending. It’s really easy just to neglect, or straight out forget about, some of the stuff that needs doing. ReachOut’s handy tool will point you in the right direction and help you to get stuff done.

Resources for parents and carers

ReachOut works with parents across Australia to develop content that helps them to support their young person. You could share some of these resources with your parent community.

School, education and teenagers

Your child may feel under pressure to perform well in exams, maintain a healthy social life, and start making tricky decisions about the rest of their life. It’s normal for teenagers to go through rough patches at school, but if you’re worried about your child, there are things that you can do to help.

Quick quiz for parents to take to understand whether their expectations align with their child’s

There's so much expectation around exam results. Take ReachOut’s quick 10-question quiz to find out if you and your teen are on the same page, and what you can do to make things easier for you both at results time.

Practical ways for parents to help their child cope with exam stress

Exam stress, results and what happens next can sometimes seem overwhelming for parents and teenagers alike. Get ideas and tips, and hear from others about what they did to support their teenagers through exam stress.

Coping skills and strategies for teenagers

It’s never too early or too late to learn how to teach your child coping skills and to help them put these skills into action. It’s a good skill for life.

Learn more: