You are here

Let's make the "next normal" a "better normal."

Explore professional books and service offerings for teachers, coaches, and school leaders so that, together, we can benefit from the lessons learned to accelerate learning, rebuild agency, and rethink schools. It's time to "rebound" to a better normal!

Reaching and Teaching Stressed and Anxious Learners in Grades 4-8

Reaching and Teaching Stressed and Anxious Learners in Grades 4-8
Strategies for Relieving Distress and Trauma in Schools and Classrooms

January 2006 | 184 pages | Corwin
`Offers those of us who interact with students an opportunity to respond with sensitivity and reflective action. Barbara Oehlberg not only identifies the issues, but also provides activities that can help us gain greater insight into the child's world and provide opportunities for empowerment and healing.'

-Susan Ross, Coordinator of Health Services

Canton City Schools, OH

`With the wisdom in this important work, we can help our children develop new strategies for successful living in a stressful world.'

-Stephen Canneto, Director

Art for a Child's Safe America Foundation

`Links sound neurological research with practical activities for educators and youth workers.'

-Martha de Acosta, Director

Education and Training Programs

Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation

From trauma, stress, and hopelessness to safety, challenge, and optimism!

Not all children cope equally well with the stresses and traumas life throws their way, and every educator recognizes that "deer in the headlights" look some children get when current events and past traumas combine to trigger a fight-or-flight stress response. No matter how safe the classroom may be in reality, trauma deactivates cognitive skills, and learning cannot resume until the child's equilibrium has been restored.

This important new resource helps educators understand how trauma and stress interfere with cognitive skills, and how classroom and school activities can be used to restore feelings of safety, empowerment, and well-being. Topics include:

Neurobiology of the developing child and how cognitive lock-out from the neocortex occurs during stress responses

Strategies for reactivating cognitive skills, memory, and the ability to learn following stress responses

How acting-out behaviors are linked to stress and trauma

How to generate a united effort on school safety and violence prevention issues

Teachers, counselors, principals, and administrators will find that these innovative strategies enhance feelings of safety and optimism in all learning environments and programs, transforming hopelessness and anxiety into resiliency and hope.

Foreword by Susan G. Clark
About the Author
Introduction: Children Haven’t Changed; Childhood Has
Glossary: The Vocabulary of Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma
Part I: Brain Changes and How They Affect Student Behaviors and Learning
1. The Impact of Losses and Stress on the Student’s Mind and Body


When Traumatic Memories Are Triggered

Cognitive Lockout

Interventions Are Possible

2. Regaining Cognitive Access: The Process of Transforming Stress and the Sense of Helplessness
Transforming Perceptions of Helplessness

Strengthening Self-Regulation

Part II: Activities for Transforming the Helplessness Generated by Stress and Fear
3. Language Arts: Creative Writing and Journaling
Topics for Creative Writing and Journaling

Issues of Loss and Being Lost or Invisible

Issues of Rejection or Being Excluded

Issues of Brokenness, Helplessness, or Futurelessness

Issues of Betrayal or Broken Promises

Issues of Emotional Intelligence (Dealing with Feelings)

Issues of Hope, Empowerment, and Healing

Debating Points and Issues

Prose and Poetry

Integrating Art and Creative Writing into Core Curriculum Areas

Ad Campaigns

Comic Books


4. Social Studies and History: Creative Topics
Historical Cartoons and Storyboards

Fictional Comic Books About Historical Characters

Artistic Media Projects for History or Social Studies

Creating Scripts for Hypothetical Radio Interviews

Writing Radio Scripts for “What if …” Programs

Creating Public Service Announcements

5. Character Education
Internal Strengths: Emotional Intelligence

A Classroom Directory of Feelings and Emotions

A Feelings Mural: Addressing All Feelings

A Box of Respect: Addressing Self-Acceptance, Self-Respect, and the Ability to Respect and Empathize With Others

The Iceberg Project: Addressing Issues of Respect, Empathy, and Trust

Letters to Hurts: Addressing Empathy, Compassion, Courage, Anger Issues, Forgiveness, and Generosity

Drawing a Dream: Addressing Issues of Anger, Work Ethic, Forgiveness, and Hopelessness

Facing Fears: Addressing Fears, Courage, Anger, and the Ability to Overcome

Playground Charters: Addressing Issues of Leadership, Integrity, Conflict, Hopefulness, and Justice

Where Are the Heroes?

Issues of Emotional Honesty, Leadership, Risky Behaviors, and Choices

Honoring Strengths With a Character Wall

The Character Board Game

Physical Strengths

Internal Capacities for Self-Regulation and Stress Management

Leading a Relaxation Exercise

6. Building Resiliency Through Afterschool, Summer Camp, and Recreational Programming
Afterschool Programs

Specific Activities for Afterschool Programs


Collaborations for Creative Projects With Younger Children: Plays, Puppets, and Masks

Designing Board Games

Physical and Mental Exercises

Sand Trays

Clubs for a Sense of Belonging and Identity

Crossword Puzzles

Theater and Arts Groups or Camps

Drama Scripts for Stage or Radio: Building a World Fit for Children

Comedy Scripts

Movement and Dance

The Power of the Beat: The Rhythm of Healing

Media Production

Summer Camps or Activity Programs

Boys and Girls Clubs, Scouting, and 4-H

Section III: Schools That Work: A Sense of Safety for All

7. Sustaining Enhanced Learning Environments
Opportunities for Classroom Change

Avoiding the Stress of Threats

Alternative Responses

Classroom Guidelines

Restorative Discipline

"Discipline That Restores"

Stress Reduction Strategies for the Classroom

8. School Safety Issues: Violence Prevention
Generating a United Effort: Leadership and Staff Development

Specific Strategies for Overall Security and Sense of Safety Throughout the School Building

Strategies Specifically for Middle Schools

Supports for Reentering Students

Supports for New or Transferring Students

Suspension and Expulsion Policies

Crisis Preparation

Conflict and Anger Management

Violence Prevention Strategies

Early Prevention



Restorative Justice

9. Meaningful Change in the U.S. Education System
Initiating Change from the Ground Up

Generating Support

Resource A: Crossword Puzzles
Resource B: Answers to the Crossword Puzzles

"An 'aroused' child, a child in distress, will experience problems with attending, focusing, retaining, and recalling information--all critical functions. Oehlberg's book provides a wealth of activities that can actually reduce arousal/anxiety in children which research has clearly shown can lead to healthier cognitive functions as well as behavioral stability. This should be a mandated resource for all schools."

William Steele, MA, PsyD, Director
The National Institute for Trauma & Loss in Children

"Reaching and Teaching Overstressed Learners in Grades 4-8 links sound neurological research with practical activities for educators and youth workers. Oehlberg expands our focus of attention about why young people are not learning. The activities she proposes are conducive to creating a safe climate where young people feel they belong and it is safe to learn."

Martha de Acosta, Ph.D., Director
Education and Training Programs, Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation, Washington, DC

"Having knowledge of loss, stress and anxiety experienced by our children offers those of us who interact with them an opportunity to respond with sensitivity and reflective action. Barbara Oehlberg not only identifies the issues, but also provides activities that can help us gain greater insight into the child's world and provide opportunities for empowerment and healing."

Susan Ross, SAVE Coordinator & Coordinator of Health Services
Canton City Schools, OH

"Neglect, abuse, violence, and homelessness have altered the way many of our children relate to each other, their families, and school communities. Through her examination of the neurological research and brain development literature, Oehlberg helps illuminate our understanding of the root causes of our students' lack of attention and destructive behaviors...With the wisdom in this important work, we can help our children develop new strategies for successful living in a stressful world."

Stephen Canneto, Director
Art for a Child's Safe America Foundation

"(The author) shares her message of hope and healing through an understanding of the impact of trauma, stress and loss on young children. Once we begin to accept and metabolize the research (on) changes that can occur in the developing brain when under stress and trauma, we can begin to address the many behavioral isues and challenges that we face in raising and teaching our children."

Nacie T. Arnold, Youth Services Coordinator
Morris County Human Services, NJ

This book will help the teacher create a classroom in which all students feel safe, where they can learn to express themselves in appropriate ways, and where they may develop trusting relationships with adults. The purposes of schooling are important and the meaning of learning is profound, but without a safe place to be, the heart of the child cannot be touched and the power of education to transform lives and our world is not possible. What lies within each child is the key to the future.  

Susan G. Clark
University of Akron, Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations
From the Foreword
Key features

·       Provides concise explanations of how anxiety, stress, and trauma affect child development, interfere with cognitive and memory functioning, and link to aggressive and acting-out behaviors at school.

·       Offers strategies for helping children regain equilibrium and feelings of safety and empowerment when "fight or flight" stress responses trigger "cognitive lock-out" at school

·       Offers learning activities across the content areas that help children transform feelings of anxiety and hopelessness into resiliency and hope: crossword puzzles, journaling topics, media projects, and more.

·       Offers strategies for enhancing school safety and violence prevention programs, afterschool programs, recreational activities, and learning environments.

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1


Purchasing options

Volume Discounts Available

contact corwin

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781412917247

For instructors

Please select a format: