How Anxiety Affects My Son’s Learning

When I was in the sixth grade, I ran for student council president.

One of the requirements was getting up on stage, in front of the entire school, and giving a speech about why you should be elected.

I bombed. For reals.

I couldn’t remember the lines I had prepared. I stuttered and started sweating. I ran off the stage as fast as I could and burst into tears.

It was pretty awful.

But what I remember most about that day is what happened next. I went back to class.

I remember trying to take a math test and the page seemingly swimming before me. I remember not being able to focus on verbal directions and wondering what was wrong with me. I remember my anxiety increasing, not decreasing as the day went on.

I didn’t learn a thing that day at school.

How Anxiety Affects My Son’s Learning

My eleven-year-old son struggles with anxiety more intense than I ever experienced at his age.

While my difficult afternoon in sixth grade ended, and school returned to normal by the next day, my son feels that same anxiety all the time. Moreover, he is struggling to learn with that same level of anxiety every day.

One of the reasons we homeschool is to accommodate his learning needs. But the truth is, I often struggle with my own worries when I consider how best to approach his education.

He can’t just do nothing.

He’s already behind. If I don’t make him do the reading lesson, he will never learn.

I know he has anxiety, but at some point, we have to just do school – right?

Because of my own fears, I often find myself recreating that same afternoon I experienced at eleven years old, for my son.

I know you feel anxious, but we need to get this done.

Try to focus. 

This is just how school works.

I find the outcome is always the same.

He struggles, gets frustrated, makes little to no progress and feels defeated.

I struggle, get frustrated, see little to no progress and feel defeated.

And he retains nothing.

I have learned to just accept it, and begin to accommodate it.

My son’s anxiety greatly affects the way he learns.


For more, please join me at Simple Homeschool, where I share what it’s like to homeschool an anxious child, as well as my top tips for helping an anxious child learn.


Additional Resources

Separation Anxiety and the Older Child

Autism and Anxiety: Making the Decision to Medicate

It’s Not Always Forward: Mothering a Regressive Child


3 thoughts on “How Anxiety Affects My Son’s Learning

  1. My sister (a Social Worker in CA) now makes the big bucks training teachers and students in Mindfullness. She uses glitter jars for anger issues (spin them around and watch them until they settle), and those plastic orbs as a breathing focus tool (pull them in and out to match the breath). Of course she’s a certified Yoga instructor as well. On Instagram she is yoga_steward if you’d like to ask her any questions. I love your creativeness in working with him. My ASD Homeschooler is eleven as well and would just like to shirk off learning. Unless it’s a topic he’s infatuated with. Im forced to make learning either really short or really funny. Press on, Momma warrior. Love the image of you both too. Xo

      1. Great! She’d be willing to explain any part that your son may benefit in, I’m sure. 🙂

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