Though adults often fondly reminisce about their childhood and wish for the good old days, many children have their childhood shaped by fears and worries. Kids are often exposed to strong emotions throughout different stages of their growth, particularly when dealing with problems at home and at school. It is normal to have anxiety and worry over parents fighting or the school bully, and with counseling and support, many children are able to overcome these fears. However, there are more subtle worries that keep kids from enjoying their youth, one of which is test-taking.
Understand the School Dilemma
The educational journey is guided by general expectations and metrics, and students are evaluated for progress with assessments and assignments. However, many kids struggle to accept these performance guidelines and suffer from extreme anxiety as a result. Students may be socially engaged with their classmates and teachers and otherwise enjoy school, but the word test or quiz can have their stomach in knots or bring on a migraine. Test anxiety isn’t just something that teenagers or college-age students suffer from, and it affects young children as negatively as it does older students.
As the curriculum and evaluation standards have changed to include more tests in the elementary school grades, the number of young children that experience severe anxiety is growing. Though assessments like the i-Ready test are to establish the level of comprehension and placement in a student, the stress that a child may endure while taking the test could skew the results. For a student to perform poorly on an i-Ready math and reading assessment, it could mean special tutoring requirements or the development of an IEP. The student may have a stellar performance on oral or written assessments, yet the answers from the timed test are what form the foundations of learning aptitude. Tests and formal assessments become a necessary evil in the classroom. Because tests aren’t going away, there are some things you can do to help your child do better with testing.
Ask Questions and Identify Issues
Many kids won’t speak about their troubles with testing, as they don’t want to let their parents down or be made to feel stupid. If you have noticed that your child isn’t scoring well on tests or claims to have an illness or physical challenges on known test days, talk to your child about how they feel. Ask questions like “how do you feel when you see a test?” or “what’s your biggest worry when you take a test?” By understanding the thought patterns, you can develop a more specific strategy. Ask questions rather than making assumptions.
Teach Your Child How to Test
As your child grows, they should develop self-regulatory skills that will help them test better. However, this information can only be successfully implemented if positive experiences form the foundation. By teaching the test-taking basics, you can help your child feel empowered throughout the assessment. Teach them how to read the directions, look for questions they can answer quickly, and how to go back and check their work for accuracy.
Encourage Positive Self-talk
You can teach your child to believe in their abilities by showing them the power of positive self-talk. You can help your child squash out negative emotions and anxiety by speaking words of confidence in their lives. Show them how to take a deep breath and tell themselves “I am prepared, so I CAN do this.” Model these words of affirmation for them, so they know they aren’t alone.
Preparing your child for a test, both by helping them study and being emotionally supportive, can go a long way in reducing testing anxiety. While assessments are a part of life, be sure your child knows that they are loved and accepted regardless of how they perform on a test. This can relieve many performances and testing fears.