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Parents Can Help Kids De-Stress Over Tests

Posted: March 29, 2014

Many schools are now or will soon be administering tests as required by the Department of Education...
  • With the impending tests, school-aged children can become stressed. Dr. Diane Sasser, Louisiana State University AgCenter Family Development professor, offers these tips for parents to ease children’s anxieties about test taking.
  • Find out the exact dates your child will be tested and which tests he will take this year. Check to see if the tests will be different in any way from the ones your child took the year before.
  • Once you know what's happening, you can help your child feel ready for what's ahead.
  • Talk to your child. Find out whether your child is feeling nervous and if so, why. Often children feel better when they voice their fears, so give your child a chance to talk about the process.
  • Help your child practice. If your child is familiar with the format of the test, he'll feel more prepared. Ask his teacher for some sample questions or other materials that can help him get acquainted with the test.
  • See that your child gets a good night's sleep the night before the test and eats breakfast that morning. Big tests require a lot of energy and stamina to be able to focus for several hours. Make sure your child gets at least eight to 10 hours of sleep the night before the test. Eating a hearty and healthy breakfast, including complex carbohydrates and protein, can make the energy last as long as possible. Foods such as eggs, cereal and whole-wheat toast help energize the brain to think more clearly and much longer compared with the fast-disappearing bolt of energy from drinking a soft drink or eating a cookie for breakfast.
  • While tests have increasing importance, they are just one measure of student learning, so try to keep the process in perspective. If you remain calm, chances are your child will probably feel calmer, too.
  • If your child may be spending part of the testing time in another home such as grandparents or the other parent since many children have divorced parents, Dr. Sasser recommends that the same rules be followed in both households to give the child comfort in consistency. Talk this over with whomever the child may be staying. You can even request that the school give your child two of all papers to be sent home to provide both parents.
  • By following these suggestions, parents can help reduce their children’s stress level before taking tests.

Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State  Extension of Lackawanna County.