Does your daughter complete her homework assignments with ease, but freeze when the teacher announces a pop quiz? Does your son become irritable and have trouble sleeping during exam season? The culprit could be test anxiety.
It’s natural to feel a little nervous about taking a test, but intense jitters can interfere with your child’s academic performance and undermine their love of learning. Study these tips that you can share with your child to help them stay calm and do better in school.
Steps to Take Before and After Exam Season
1. Design your own tests. Self-testing is one of the most effective methods of studying, and your child will gain confidence each time they practice. Ask your child to make up a few questions about the material they just covered in their homework.
2. Avoid cramming. Talk with your child about the importance of studying regularly rather than waiting until the last minute. They’ll retain more information and feel less stressed.
3. Accept your feelings. Fighting or denying anxiety can make it worse. Be a role model by showing how you can acknowledge your feelings while taking constructive action.
4. Practice relaxation. Make reducing stress a family activity. Meditate together or take long walks. Start the morning with some breathing exercises and play gentle instrumental music in the evenings.
5. Monitor self talk. You can’t always be there to give your child a pep talk so ensure they know how to motivate and encourage themselves. Let them know that they deserve praise for making an effort. Focus on making progress rather than getting any particular grade.
6. Ask for assistance. Schools offer many resources for learning disabilities and other conditions that can contribute to test anxiety. Talk with a teacher or school counsellor or me to see what’s available. I work with families with Primary and High School aged children to help you close the gaps like this.
7. Evaluate your efforts. Prepare for the next exam season by figuring out where you need to focus your attention. Maybe your child is still struggling with essay questions or analogies.
Steps to Take During Exam Season
1. Clarify the format. Knowing what to expect can boost your confidence. See if the teacher is willing to announce what kind of questions will be on the test, and what material will be covered. Look at samples from previous years and remind your child to pay extra attention to any sections and themes that the teacher seems to emphasise.
2. Minimise distractions. A tranquil atmosphere relieves anxiety. Suggest picking out a quiet seat away from the door.
3. Follow directions. Students sometimes fail tests because they didn’t take the time to read the instructions carefully. Train your child to study the directions before they answer any questions.
4. Keep moving. Blanking out and freezing are common symptoms of test anxiety. Staying engaged makes it easier to think. Answer easy questions first and save harder ones for later. Outline drafts for essays if it’s difficult to write them out automatically.
5. Eat nutritious foods. Students need to care for their bodies as well as their minds. Avoid fuelling up on sugary junk food that makes blood sugar levels soar and crash. Eat balanced meals and nutritious snacks.
6. Exercise regularly. Similarly, daily workouts will reduce stress and boost energy. Start the day with a short run or laps in the pool.
7. Sleep well. Test anxiety can keep a student up at night, but sleep is essential. Create bedtime rituals like taking a warm bath or drinking a cup of chamomile tea.
Being tested is a part of life, whether it’s algebra exams or job interviews. Teaching your child to perform under pressure will prepare them for greater success and peace of mind.