Test anxiety can be a serious problem that makes it impossible to concentrate.  But some Idaho 4th graders seem to have the key to conquering it.

Do you think there's too much pressure on kids to perform well on tests?  I've heard so many parents talking about it lately that I couldn't help but bring it up.

I've got a daughter in 4th grade and she had a big standardized test to take recently that had been on her mind since September.  September!  She talked about the test once every couple of weeks since last fall, with dread in her voice each time.  The teachers reminded the class several times about it, and studying for it became part of the curriculum.  The test was made to be a huge deal, and it did genuinely serve as an important marker for progress.  But presenting it as a big deal created test anxiety, and I'm wondering if there might be a better approach.

What if we treated these tests as not such a make-or-break deal?  "Yep, it's a test, but we know you'll do your best.  Don't stress it, and let's go out for pizza afterward."  No big thing. Then text anxiety may not have a chance to get a grip.  Making a test an event automatically creates pressure and anxiety, doesn't it?  Even the smartest kids can bomb a test if they've got anxiety, and the results are inaccurate.

When I picked her up at school after the testing day, I asked Finley how it went and she said, "Fine!  It wasn't that bad."  She told me she finished each section well before the allotted time was up, and had time free time to read or draw during the down time.  She had recovery time to breathe between tests, and she knew the answers and was able to perform as well as she could.  We'll get the results later to know for sure, but at least the test wasn't the freak-out challenge that it could have been.  And now she knows she can be confident about future tests.

She said many of her 4th grade classmates handled it well too, finishing early with confidence and time to relax between the subject tests.  They nailed it.  All of that worrying for nothing.

Idaho's math and reading scores came out this week from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and KTVB says the most recent scores for Idaho 4th graders were flat, but Idaho students scored a little higher than the national average overall.  The state will be working with students to improve scores, and maybe they can start with a little reverse psychology.  You got this, kids!  Study hard and do your best.  Trust your knowledge, and the test scores will take care of themselves.

Same goes for those tests in high school, and at Boise State.  Be prepared, fuel up, have positive thoughts, and you'll do just fine.  And then, pizza for everyone.

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