EQAO Testing can cause stress for students and parents.

As the last two weeks of May approach parents and their children may become stressed as they anticipate the mandatory standardized testing called EQAO. When we think of tests we think ‘study’. The EQAO is not that kind of ‘test’. It’s based on what students have learned throughout their school year. It’s a way for the Ministry of Education to look at where improvements need to be made in our schools.

Some students may experience overwhelming stress and anxiety as they believe they must do well, not only to please their parents and teachers, but also to prove to themselves that they do have the knowledge and learning to successfully pass the ‘test’ – that they are indeed smart.

As parents, we can easily transfer our anxious feelings, negative thoughts and unrealistic expectations about ‘tests’ to our child without realizing it. It’s natural to want to protect our child from the possibility of not doing well.  We may believe we are being encouraging and supportive when we say things like, ‘I wasn’t good at math, grammar or tests.’ Those words can actually discourage your child from making an effort and also hinder their ability to bounce back from mistakes.

For children, ‘test anxiety’ can show up as a stomach ache or their stomach feeling full of butterflies, a heart that feels like it’s about to beat out of their chest, sweating palms or difficulty catching their breath. It’s important to teach children ways to let go of stress and move through anxious emotions so that they can face their ‘test day’ with a calm mind, mental alertness and clarity, allowing them to have excellent recall of what they have learned in the past year,

My 3 favourite ways are:

1. MINDFUL BREATH

When a child’s brain is taken over by frustration, anger and nervousness and their bodies are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, they are more likely to start making choices from their emotions, which blocks their ability to think with a calm, clear mind. When my 6 year old son is overwhelmed in emotion, I bend down so I am at his eye level and I say, ‘Kai, breathe. Take a deep breath in and slowly let it out.’ I breathe with him. We repeat ‘the breath’ 3 times or whatever amount he needs in order to bring calm to his body.. 

2. CREATE A LIST OF HEALTHY WAYS TO RELEASE EMOTIONS

Knowing how to positively release emotions helps the emotionally charged child to better cope with challenges and stressors. Since everyone is different, each child will need their own list of what calms them and brings them back to feeling more balanced. Moving through their emotions in a healthy way will allow them to return to a calmer state and to get into the ‘test zone’ quicker.

Examples of Healthy Ways to Release Stress before the Testing

  1. Go to bed early so they are well rested in the morning.
  2. Talk to someone.
  3. Picture feeling and looking confident while writing the test.
  4. Repeat positive, encouraging words.

Examples of Healthy Ways to Release Stress during the Testing

  1. Gently pull on their ears.
  2. Make a tight fist with their hands, let go, repeat as many times as needed.
  3. Wiggle their toes.
  4. Keep taking slow deep breaths.

 

3. JOURNALING

It’s easy to let stress and anxious emotions take over. When I notice this happening, I find writing down my feelings and thoughts helps to clear the clutter that sometimes takes over my mind. Putting pen to paper helps:

  • Reduce anxiety.
  • Calm the brain.
  • Release what is causing ‘test anxiety’.

It’s important to remember that no matter what the ‘test’ results are, they are not a reflection of your parenting or teaching skills. The ‘test’ is a marker for what a child has learned from the curriculum, not their ability and the wonderful person they are.

Until next time,



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