Parents are often surprised that standardized testing has become an integral component of their child’s education. These tests are designed to evaluate students’ abilities, assess teacher performance, and—in many cases—determine whether or not a school is making adequate yearly progress.
But even though standardized tests usually have no bearing on a child’s grades, they can cause some children to experience real anxiety. Don’t worry—this is normal. (After all, how many of you enjoy taking tests?) If your child is experiencing sweaty palms during test time, there are steps you can take to help ease his or her mind.
Communicate with the teacher
Contact your child’s teachers and find out what, if any, impact the test will have on your child’s grades. Ask for a study guide, or at least a general idea of what material will be covered. The more you know about the test, the easier it will be to reassure your child.
Make studying fun
Once you know what the test covers, find clever ways to take the edge off studying. Create colorful flashcards, play memory games, or use outdoor activities as a way of reinforcing the test material. Gamifying the studying experience can lower stress, ease pressure, and make your child more comfortable with the subject material.
Get plenty of sleep
Sticking to a strict bedtime schedule is important, especially during testing periods. In 2013, researchers at the University of California Berkeley found that sleep deprivation can contribute to anticipatory anxiety (also known as excessive worrying). Adequate rest is crucial for your child’s academic performance and general state of mind.
Stay healthy and hydrated
Along with getting a good night’s sleep, make sure your child is eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. The right nutrients and proper hydration will ensure that your child is able to stay focused in school, giving them more confidence.
Use deep breathing
Deep breathing can help with any stressful situation, and is a wonderful coping technique. Have your child inhale deeply through the nose, filling their belly with air. Exhale through the mouth, bringing their belly button toward their spine. This is a deep breathing exercise that can be done at any time before or during the test to alleviate stress.
Let them know it’s normal to be nervous
Tell them they’re not alone—plenty of kids and adults get nervous about tests. Sometimes just knowing they’re not the only ones freaking out can help them cope.
Remember: test anxiety is common. But with you as a study partner and cheerleader, your kids will feel more confident and less nervous. Do you have test-taking tips or rituals in your house?