For many students, being back in school means the return of test anxiety. In some children, this may manifest as an upset stomach or even bad nerves that impact their test performance. How can we, as adults, help relieve some of our children’s fears around exams and assessments?
Provide context for your child:
Many children think that tests measure intelligence. If they don’t get a certain grade or percentage, children may feel insecure or inadequate. While tests may be an indicator of a child’s progress or how much they’ve grasped a certain skill, our intelligence cannot be reduced to a number. Educators around the world debate the efficacy of tests for students of diverse backgrounds and learning styles. Remind your children that tests are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to education. Many smart and innovative people struggle under the time constraints and pressures of an exam. The most important thing we can stress to our child is to try their best and to remember that no one’s worth or intelligence can be simplified to a letter grade.
Help your child prepare:
How does your child prefer to study? Do they enjoy using flashcards or making a study guide? Depending on the subjects, there are many resources online that can make studying less daunting for your child. Help them come up with habits that work for them by trying out a variety of study methods. Some students prefer to highlight as they read, others like to stand up and move when they practice their multiplication facts. It can take years for a student to develop a system that works best for them, so be patient and encourage your child to try new approaches.
Communication with teachers:
For younger students in a smaller classroom, it may be easier for a teacher to notice when a student is fidgeting or having a hard time with a test. But in larger classrooms, it may be a challenge for the teacher to check in with every individual student. Additionally, students may feel less comfortable speaking up and sharing their anxieties around their peers. For younger students, it’s helpful if parents or guardians communicate to the teacher any concerns they may have that will affect their child’s experiences in the classroom. It’s also essential that the students talk to the instructor directly, but this may be more difficult with children in elementary and middle school. In high school and in college, professors have more of an expectation that students will communicate clearly about their experiences in the classroom. No matter what age your student is, teachers can be great resources and advocates to turn to when test anxiety strikes.