Helping Students With Test Anxiety

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Test anxiety is not just about how the child feels in the room taking the test, says Nathaniel von der Embse, an assistant professor of school psychology at the University of South Florida. He offers these suggestions, especially for younger children.

Before the Test

Parents and teachers should help students understand what the test is for, and how the results will be used. Teach children that tests give them a way to show all the things they’ve learned.

DON’T emphasize the date of the test by saying: you’ve got to eat well, go to bed early, you’ve got a big test tomorrow.”

DO emphasize the everyday importance of regular bedtimes, good nutrition and healthy breakfasts so the brain can function well. Encourage children to do their best every day.

Encourage children to practice before a test so the testing exercise is familiar.

During the Test

Encourage breathing techniques to relieve stress.

After the Test

Explain that anxiety is your body’s way of trying to help you. Stress may actually help a child focus and face the test in a positive productive way.

Encourage children to think of an exam or public speaking as a challenge, not a threat, and they will worry less.

Seek help if a child suffers from extreme anxiety.

DON’T celebrate children for good grades and test scores.

DO reinforce that children are valued for many reasons and they are still a person of worth, no matter how poorly they may perform.

Be aware if schools evaluate (or pay) teachers based on students’ test scores because these practices may lead to teacher stress. If the school environment is stressful, students may pick up on that and it can undo the good stress management steps you take at home.

Source: New York Times