Easing Test-Taking Anxiety in the Elementary Grades
For the youngest test-takers, anxiety about the unknown can be overwhelming. In fact, test anxiety can start as early as Kindergarten! Thankfully, some Really Good Teachers are filled with ideas to ease the minds of the youngest students.
A Gentle Approach
Claire, a Kindergarten Teacher from Lexington, Tennessee, shares with us this precious idea for helping young students. “One of the sweetest ways to help young children deal with frustrations that come from taking standardized tests came from a teacher friend of mine. She likened a test-taking experience to the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” She would say, ‘Do you remember that one bed was too hard for Goldilocks, one was too soft, and one was just right? That’s the way some of the questions on this test will be. Some will be too hard, some too easy, and others, just right. You just think about that. Just try your best, and everything will be just fine!’”
“As part of my classroom decor, I display a banner printed with the name, ‘Mrs. Ishkibibble,’” says Clifton, New Jersey, 3rd Grade Teacher, Carol. “When, in the beginning of the year, children inquire about the name, I explain that Mrs. Ishkibibble is the nice woman who reads and grades our standardized tests. I go on to say that, because she does not know my students like I do, they need to write neatly and explain their thinking clearly for her benefit. Then, throughout the year, whenever we answer math questions or have to explain our reasoning in other core subjects, I tell the children to remember to answer in ways that Mrs. Ishkibibble – who, after all, is not really privy to our classroom happenings – could understand. Because the name has no educational implication, I do not have to cover it during actual test-taking sessions, so it remains in the front of the room as a gentle reminder to children to express themselves as clearly as possible.”
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