Helping Kids Cope With Test Anxiety
Most of us have dealt with some type of anxiety in our lives. Since you know how it feels, it can be heartbreaking to watch your child go through anxiety, especially as it relates to their education. Many people experience test anxiety or anxiety before finishing and turning in a big assignment. This can come in several different forms. Some individuals fear that they might fail, which can ultimately actually affect their test performance. Others may feel the anxiety and want to procrastinate the test, studying, or assignment, which of course can also affect their grade greatly. Today, we’re going to go over some tactics that you can use to teach your children to lessen their stress around tests.
How to Minimize Test Anxiety
For many people test anxiety isn’t something that ever goes away. They will have to deal with this issue their entire life. As such, it’s crucial to try to teach your children some techniques to help moderate the level of stress they might be feeling. They can then learn to work through their stress on their own and will feel much more empowered to fight back against test anxiety.
First and foremost, it’s a great idea to sit down with your child and teach them how to properly study. There are so many different ways to get in a good study session, so try out some different techniques to see what works. You may find that your child is an auditory, visual, reading/writing, or kinesthetic learner — or possibly even a combination of two or more of these styles. So, try out a few different approaches and see what kind of information they relate to quickly and what helps them recall answers better.
As we talked about earlier, some kids might try to put off their homework or studying because of their test anxiety. This is why it’s so incredibly important to sit down with them to talk about what makes homework and studying stressful. It’s possible that they might say they don’t understand the information completely as it was presented. So, encourage them to sit down and draw, take notes, read the answers out loud to themselves, and/or watch a video to creatively learn the material. The fact of the matter is, if your child feels confident that they know the information, they are less likely to avoid it and be scared about a test or assignment.
Following whatever pattern of learning your child feels most connected to, try to quiz them or have them quiz themselves. That is to say, have them draw pictures of concepts and then explain the idea behind them; or perhaps use flashcards to write a word and a definition; or use a physical movement or object to symbolically relate to the information — whatever works for them will be useful in recalling the information later on.
In addition, quizzing early can stop test anxiety in its tracks if the child gets out their nervous energy on practice quizzes. Yes, it might not completely resolve the issue, but solid studying and quizzing can help your child prepare and know what to do when or if they face test anxiety. It’s also not a bad idea to set up a structured pre-test that feels like a real test. This will help them understand that if they can take a fake test and do well, then they can do well on the actual test.
Lastly, have a discussion about what to do when your child actually sits down for the test. So many kids are often hit with a wave of anxiety that seems to wipe their mind blank at the time of a test. In these situations, it’s a good idea to come up with a solid game plan. This way, when your child is in the moment, they will think of some tactics to distract themselves from the anxiety and hopefully eliminate its effect completely.
For example, when your child sits down to take the test, they can take a few slow, deep breaths to help clear their mind. When they start the test, make sure they know to read over the instructions a few times before they start. After they’re sure that they fully understand the test, they can look over the questions and begin to answer some that clearly stick out in their mind. After they have a few questions in the bag, their brain will already be going and will be accessing the information they studied. This should help them to get their brain moving and be able to recall other information that they may be stuck on.
What’s more, they should remember that now is not the time to rush. They should use as much time as they need in order to finish the test. If they have to use all of the allotted time, that’s completely OK. If it means that they will get a better grade in the end, it’s always worth it to slow down and take their time.
How to Use Music for Better Testing
Depending on your child’s learning style, they may be attracted to certain styles of preparation before a big exam. For example, some kids may want to get excited and get their blood flowing to help increase their confidence. Others might want to try and battle some of the anxiety they feel. As such, before a test, you can help them to create a routine or playlist that fits their study needs.
As long as devices are allowed, your child may want to bring a pair of headphones with them to school and listen to their favorite playlist to get them into the right headspace before a test. In addition, if a teacher allows it, some children perform better when they’re listening to music. So, you might want to see if they can listen to music during their test. Of course, nothing that will be distracting to them and to others, but something that can help them focus on the task at hand.
There you have it! Get creative with your child and use all mediums at your disposal. Help them get excited and engaged with studying via music, pictures, videos, writing, and more. Of course, each child works in a completely different way, but with some experimentation at home, you can help create a personalized test plan that will leave your child feeling positive about test time.