10 ways to avoid test stress
How to help your child during standardized testing
Today’s students have greater demands than ever before, with homework and a greater emphasis on scoring high on standardized tests like the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).
Parents can help by making sure that children plan accordingly for testing days at school. Find out from your children and the school how they’re doing and the likelihood of not performing well on tests. This will help alleviate fears by pacing preparation for the tests, creating a plan to help kids succeed and encouraging them to problem-solve their worries.
Here are steps you can take to help your child during this stressful time:
- Ask for help. If your child is especially anxious about test taking, set up a meeting with the teacher and school counselor to come up with a plan to ease fears on test day.
- Go online and get sample items of practice tests from previous years and, if needed, practice with your children at home.
- Practice deep breathing exercises at home. Then on test day, they will be able to put these practices into action.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of rest. Studies have found that people who get eight hours of sleep before taking a math test are nearly three times more likely to figure out the problem than people who stay awake all night.
- Control your children’s anxiety by making sure they are prepared. Focus on good study habits and the importance of not waiting until the last minute to cram before the test. There’s still time. Also, make sure your child has everything he or she needs going into the test. Even if it’s a new sharpened pencil. Make a check list the night before to avoid stress.
- Stay away from entertainment as test time approaches. It’s not easy, but your child needs to study and not spend all night watching TV, looking at Facebook® or being on the computer. You can wait on that until after the test.
- Help your child keep mistakes in perspective. Everyone makes them and nobody is perfect. As you move closer to tests and studying, use wrong answers as a learning opportunity.
- Eat right. Make sure your child has had enough sleep, exercise and healthy food. Avoid heavy food or desserts that may upset the stomach. Avoid high sugar foods that may keep your child up all night and make sure your child has a healthy breakfast (low-sugar cereal or oatmeal) the morning of the test.
- Expect distractions. Let your child know someone in the class will have sniffles. Some kid will be banging his pencil on the desk. Someone may be humming. Those kids have their own stress. Just warn your child this is going to happen, but don’t let it be a bother.
- After testing is completed, create ways to celebrate with your child. What you want to focus on in this celebration is the success of managing their stress, and not whether they passed or failed, which they won’t know for weeks.
Get to know Lisa Elliott
Lisa Elliott is a licensed psychologist and clinic manager of Cook Children’s Psychology Clinic, located at 3201 Teasley Lane, Ste. 202, Denton, TX 76210. Cook Children’s Psychology provides care focused on children’s behavior, from ages 3 years through 17. The Behavioral Health Center brings all services together in an expanded space that will provide a talented, dedicated team of caregivers, physicians and professionals with the facilities, resources, tools and programs they need to ensure that these most vulnerable children receive the high quality treatment they need and deserve. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call our Intake Department at 682-885-3917.