BY Holly Tavano
Harwich Elementary School
Creating a library/reading nook has the potential to impact all students that visit the Nurse’s Office. To give an idea…throughout the 2018-2019 school year, the Nurse’s Office logged 8,570 student interactions among 559 students. An online article written by Melissa McDonald, a school nurse in Rhode Island and Melanie Roy, a library teacher in the same state, speaks to the importance of a well-stocked library for the School Nurse’s Office.
She stresses three main points about the importance of books in the Nurse’s Office:
1) A school nurse’s role is to address the physical, mental, emotional and social needs of students.
2) Anxiety is a leading mental health issue among our American youth, and clinicians and research both suggest it is rising. Independent reading can reduce stress and anxiety. Oftentimes, a visit to the nurse is a moment to rest and reset from feeling anxious and stressed. Having the ability to sit or lay down in a quiet space and read can help students be able to return to their classroom and learn.
3) According to a study conducted by the University of Sussex, individuals who had read for merely six minutes exhibited slower heart rates, less muscle tension and reduced stress levels. McDonald noted that students entering her health office for a symptom of illness are often “cured” by ten minutes of reading.
How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)
Success looks like students walking into the clinic, sitting down and patiently waiting for their turn having the ability to choose a book instead of wasting time, disturbing others, or exhibiting distracting and or inappropriate behaviors. Success looks like an opportunity to read while waiting for a parent or guardian to pick them up if they are ill. Success looks like students who are unable to participate in recess due to an injury snuggling up with a book in the health office for 25 minutes of quiet enjoyment.
Benefit to the students and the school
I imagine the impact to be wide reaching: exposure to reading as well as relieving of stress and anxiety that may be causing physical ailments disturbing a student’s learning. A student that may otherwise be perseverating on a particular symptom (such as a stomach ache) and losing valuable learning time could be completely relieved of their symptoms and return to their classroom refreshed and ready to learn.
Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)