Resources for Building Student Resilience

Students face adversity both at home and in school. Some examples of hardships they might face include parental divorce, illnesses, conflicts with friends, and struggles with schoolwork. Resiliency helps you grow as a human being and strengthen your ability to handle additional problems as they arise. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from challenges, embrace change, and improve your overall mindset.

Children and young adults must learn to be resilient learners because those skills will help them succeed in all levels of education. Students who do poorly on a test or experience a conflict during a group project must know how to deal with the situation, adapt as needed, and learn from the experience.

Building  student resilience isn’t easy, nor does it happen in one class or even one school year. However, with the help of some resources, teachers can assist their students in building their resiliency through consistent practice and encouragement.

We’ve compiled a list of resources you can use to learn more about resiliency and activities to foster resiliency in your classroom.


Resources for Building Student Resilience

Educator Resources

Teachers often struggle to motivate students growing up in poverty or living a tough home life. They simply don’t know how to connect with them or help them with their problems. To teach your kids how to build their resilience, you need to understand how to approach young people who may have experienced adversity or trauma. The following resources can help you see the role you play in your students’ lives:

Paul Tough’s article “How to Teach Students Grit” is a primer for anyone wondering how to approach teaching noncognitive skills like perseverance and grit in the classroom.

In this video, psychologist Carol Dweck explains how and why we should develop a growth mindset in our students. Dweck developed the ideas of fixed and growth mindset. Teachers all over the world now use activities specially designed to develop a growth mindset in their classes.

Discover the connection between mindfulness and resilience with this article from Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine.

Learn “How Not to be a Mountain Troll” to children who have faced trauma or who have trouble trusting adults.

Read up on the characteristics of resiliency through an easy-to-understand summary of research with the article “Resilience: The Other 21st Century Skills.”

Create a journal or planner for your students that includes reflection and mindfulness prompts. Include content to help motivate and encourage students to keep trying.

Discover some strategies for “Helping Your Students Cope With a Violent World” by putting things into perspective with this article from Edutopia.


Student Activities

You cannot teach your students how to be resilient, but you can foster it by creating a welcoming classroom and engaging your class in activities that allow them to reflect on their failures and learn from their challenges.

Help them learn from failure using the “Crumpled Reminder” activity, a quick exercise that you can return to later to remind students to learn from their mistakes.

Teach perseverance with the Choices Teacher Kits from Scholastic. These stories feature titles such as “The League of Extraordinary Losers,” which features the celebrities that teens in grades 7-12 admire and the setbacks they’ve faced. These stories help teens see failures as learning opportunities.

Guide your students through an activity about “Bouncing Back” from challenges and help them realize how they have already overcome adversity.

Teach them about the ABCs of Resilience. Not everyone reacts to tragedies in the same way. Some of us face adversity (“A”) and jump to the consequences (“C”) without considering our own personal beliefs (“B”). While one person might believe getting less than a stellar score on the SAT will prevent them from getting into a good college, another might believe that they can study harder and retake the test. When students acknowledge their beliefs, they can work on them and become more optimistic and driven learners.

Relate resiliency to STEM careers, help youth learn from their role models, and assist them in creating a personal resilience plan with lesson plans from The New York Academy of Sciences.

Even with the youngest children, encourage self-reflection by reading about and discussing what it means to be a hero. To get started, see The Heroic Imagination Project. 

Allow students to choose a relaxing activity as a “pick me up,” give each other anonymous compliments or any of the other creative activities on the North Dakota Department of Health’s Resiliency Building Activities for Children.

Find a plethora of other activities for adults and children with 27 Resilience Activities and Worksheets for Students and Adults.


Start Small and Make a Big Impact

No matter at which level of education you work or your role within a school, you can help build resiliency in your classroom through minor changes every day. Start with providing a supportive environment where your students feel comfortable learning. Then, work into your lessons the development of noncognitive skills through reflective activities. Students won’t even know they’re learning valuable skills with the fun and engaging activities listed here. Most of all, let your students know their feelings are valid and encourage them to keep trying.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.