Here are: 3 Ways to Reduce Test Anxiety and 5 Tools for Success.
3 Ways to Reduce Test Anxiety and 5 Tools for Success
Sometimes homeschoolers struggle with test anxiety. Sometimes, they get worked up over spelling tests and math quizzes; at achievement test times they are a mess.
Even in our safe, supportive home environments, sometimes even homeschooling kids get hit with performance anxiety. It can look like:
- Excessively worrying about doing well on a test or project
- Tearfulness or irritability when faced with a difficult lesson
- Fearfulness of being scrutinized, watched, or judged when in front of others (at a sporting event, concert, recital, speech, drama, etc)
- During the stressful event the child may cry, shrink back, or have a panic attack (shortness of breath, pounding heart)
- Attempting to avoid the stressful situation
- A teen might recognize that the level of fear is excessive (a child probably would not recognize this)
- Feeling overwhelmed
What an unhappy thing!
Often, test anxieties are rooted in a child’s fears. Let’s discuss the fears and how to address them:
1) Fear of forgetting something important
To help: Have a review session early in the evening the night before and again in the morning. Make sure you are expressing confidence in your homeschooler’s “remembering skills”. If you can get a good laugh out of your child, it will help the information to stick.
2) Fear of disappointing Mom and Dad
To help: Make certain that you refrain from giving the impression that only A’s are acceptable. Homeschoolers often teach with the goal of mastery (which is good), but mastery of a skill for some children may look like a B score on a test.
This does not mean, however, that we allow children to be lazy, do sloppy work, have bad attitudes, or to underachieve.
3) Fear of failing and feeling stupid
To help: Help your child practice talking well to herself. God did not make a mistake when He made your child. It does not honor Him for someone to insult His children. Children can practice healthy self-talk like, “God gave me a good mind. He will help me do good work.”
(You can help this by modeling talking respectfully to yourself.)
Read more about helping teens overcome perfectionism.
The good news is that God gave people tools that help heal the anxiety. Here are some to try:
Oxygen is your friend. Lead your child in taking a few deep breaths before, and if possible, during the test or event. The reason this works is that oxygen turns off the stress hormones for a few minutes. Not permanent, but really helps!
2) Make a habit of remembering successes.
In the Bible, King David often told about times God helped him defeat bears, lions, giants and various enemies. It is a great idea to incorporate this into daily life. Each day, spend some time together noting the successes that God has given that day and in the past. Note any little time your child was strong, kind, quick thinking, or brave. This helps create the expectation of God’s help in any uncomfortable situation.
3) Help your child prepare well.
King David had successes because he was prepared. God was with him and did miracles, but David also trained himself to use his slingshot and to be a warrior.
Our part as parents is to calmly and encouragingly help our kids with their preparation.
4) Teach your child positive self-talk.
Before and during a stressful event children need to verbalize, “I am prepared. I can do this. God will help me.” The more often they practice, the easier it becomes to believe the truth.
5) Celebrate successes!
Each time a test is over, each time an event is completed, praise God together and note the successful parts of the time. (You can do opportunities for growth, AKA goofs, later.) Each success will help your kid move closer to believing the truth that God loves him/her and will help him in all things.
The #1 thing to do about anxiety is to pray. We have a 30-day prayer adventure journal to help you on your way. Click on over to the ebookstore.
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