________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 10. . . .November 6, 2015


Stop the Stress in Schools: Mental Health Strategies Teachers Can Use To Build a Kinder Gentler Classroom.

Joey Mandel.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2014.
128 pp., trade pbk. & pdf, $24.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-55138-298-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55138-900-4 (pdf).

Subject Headings:
Classroom environment-Psychological aspects.
Stress in children-Prevention.
Stress management for children-Study and teaching (Elementary).

Professional: Grades 1-6.

Review by Betty Klassen.

**** /4


These students still struggle with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges, but these challenges are often seen as being within their control. The inability to meet these challenges is often blamed on the individual, who is seen as lazy or “bad,” and on his or her parents for being absent or negligent. But if we understand psychological challenges to exist as a spectrum, then it does not make sense to arbitrarily draw a line in the continuum, to determine that a child on one side of the line receives a diagnosis and support but a child on the other side is not serviced.

This is where educators can play a vital role. Teachers can create climates that will affect the lives of the children who struggle but are not in desperate need. We must use the same strategies and techniques for the child we are worried about as we would to support the child with a diagnosis. It is easy for the children who struggle to fall through the cracks. However, using only a little engagement and support, we can make a significant impact in their lives.


Joey Mandel has drawn on her experience as a teacher, parent, coach, and consultant to write a book that is important for all teachers, but especially those in elementary education. The sooner children learn social-emotional self-regulation strategies, the more positive their school experience and relationships with peers will be. As noted in the excerpt above, teachers can play an important role to ensure that all children learn vital mental health strategies to reduce the number of students (about 20%, p. 8) who have challenges that interfere daily with their social and academic success.

     Readers are provided with concrete and practical information on strategies to create a positive classroom, to assist students to give positive responses, to increase student awareness of the impact of stress on their body and their behaviour; and on their thinking processes and feelings. As both teachers and students increase in their awareness of triggers and the impact of stress, they can learn strategies that enable them to accept certain situations, adapt to some, and manage their stress so that they can keep trying.

     Mandel writes with sufficient depth and includes many student behaviour examples so that, after a careful read, teachers should be able to use these strategies in their classrooms. She includes numerous examples of likely responses that teachers may give to students: where we ignore the problem but encourage the student to keep trying; or when we react to the behaviour but don’t provide a concrete strategy to work on, and, lastly, when we respond in a way that tries to problem-solve and reduce both student and teacher stress. These honest examples shed light on Mandel’s experience with both children and teachers and encourage readers to ask themselves what their pattern of responses has been, and to envision responding in new ways.

     Stop the Stress in Schools is divided into five chapters that include student behavioor scenarios from grades one to six. The book includes informative, easy-to-read charts, worksheets to copy, sample student work, and it outlines the positive response process. This process assists teachers with providing appropriate feedback and with setting goals with students to help regulate, engage and support them in finding better ways to deal with stress than the innate flight, fight, or freeze responses we all feel at times. A detailed table of contents, an index, and a list of further professional resources complete the book.

Highly Recommended.

Betty Klassen teaches in the Early and Middle Years Programs in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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