Learning to react to stress or anxiety about tests takes practice. Here are some techniques that you can help your child practice. Once a technique becomes easy, your child will be able to successfully implement it into their classroom life.
Stretch – before and during, take a deep breath and bring your arms over your head. On your way back down, let the breath out. Do this several times.
Visualise - Do this visualisation for many different activities where you need a break, need to relax, or ‘get away’. Have your child close their eyes (or in a classroom, stare at a clear spot on the floor, or corner of the ceiling). Imagine a place where just you can go all by yourself. Have your child build this place in their minds. Use phrases such as ‘now think of the grass, is it tall? Short? Waving in the breeze?’ Try this a few times (even build your own place with as your child does). Using this technique during a test will help your student ‘escape’ and calm down/relax in order to continue.
Think Positive - If you think you are going to do bad, or are terrible at doing tests, guess what? You’re probably right! A better way to use these pre-test thoughts is to infuse them with positive things such as ‘I’ve studied to my best ability!” “I’m going to do the BEST that I CAN do!” If you are a parent, try and be as positive as possible as your child will also sense your thoughts about their test-taking abilities.
Breathing – Take 5 DEEP breaths if you feel anxious or stressed. This helps the brain and body to relax and calm itself.
Time Management – Many teenagers need practice at this, and managing study time prior to a test can dramatically help reduce stress. Sit down with your child and help plan out a study schedule so that only a small fraction of the studying happens the night before a test.
Practice makes Perfect – If your child is in high-school, they have at least 8-10 different teachers and each teacher writes tests differently. So, often the first two to three tests in a course are like trial runs. After this kind of test, review with your child these three things: What kinds of questions were asked (multiple choice, word problems, short answers etc.)? What did you struggle with the most? How could you do it next time so you are better prepared?
Sleep – Last but not least, sleep should be the most important thing the day before a test. The brain needs time to repair before putting it under pressure.
Food – Teenagers these days seem to avoid breakfast. On a test day, make sure your child knows the importance of eating breakfast and lunch. These meals should consist of protein and good fats. Some examples of a good source of protein and fats are; eggs, scrambled eggs with cheese wrapped in a small tortilla, unsweetened peanut/nut butter, smoothies with protein powder (not just milk and fruit), granola/yogurt, milk and high fibre unsweetened cereal. If you have hemp seeds, flax seeds or any type of raw nut or seed, add this to the meal as well. Without a good meal, concentration levels and brain functions drop, both of which are needed during a test!
Remember, the more practice you have at writing tests successfully and without a lot of stress and anxiety the better you will do on these tests! I believe in you. You can do anything you set your mind on.