Simply put, a worry jar is just that – a jar for kids to place their worries in. They can write them (or draw them) on a piece of paper. Worries jars can be a creative tool to help kids process how they are feeling by identifying what they are upset about. A jar carries great symbolism – it gives your students a place to put their worries instead of carrying them around. For you, the worry jar is an opportunity to get an honest insight into how they are doing.
There are many different ways to use this tool. Below are three examples:
- Classroom Unity
A simple and effective way to implement a worry jar is to make it part of either a morning meeting or other community time. Kids can write down a worry when they walk in in the morning and place it in the jar. Then, when the class is all together, the worries are read outloud and discussed. This is not only a great way for you to get a sense of what is going on, but also for them to see the variety of worries among their peers…and to feel connected through the shared ones.
- Be Right Back
When you want to focus more on getting centered and focused for the day, the jar can symbolize ‘putting your worries away.’ Each student in the class can be given a worry jar, and when they find themselves focusing on something they are concerned about, they can write it down and place it in a jar and let it go. This way, we aren’t telling them to forget what is worrying them (and thereby minimizing its importance) but instead we’re giving them a physical place to leave that worry. Some kids who use the jar this way like to take it a step further and review their concerns at the end of the day – they will be amazed at how many worries they can rip up – and the rest can remain to revisit at another time or can be shared with an adult for help.
- Communication Tool
A worry jar can be a great way for kids who need more support to communicate with you. When there is something that they need you to know, they put a note in the jar (for your eyes only). For some kids, being able to communicate without drawing attention – or having to say out loud what they are upset about – can be vitally important.
This can also be done with a notebook. Each student would have a notebook at their desk for their use only. When that notebook is either placed on top of the desk, or at your desk, it means that there is something they want to share with you. This way, you can also write back. Using the notebook version of a worry jar, you can also begin the communication when you feel that there is a student who needs a check in.