Elementary School Math Test Anxiety

Too much anxiety about tests can be debilitating and result in poor performance. It can interfere with studying, cause difficulty with learning new material and even have a negative effective on a child's social interactions

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A little anxiety can go a long way. It can get your child moving when it comes getting his school work done. But too much anxiety about tests can be debilitating and result in poor performance. It can interfere with studying, cause difficulty with learning new material and even have a negative effective on a child's social interactions. It's important to recognize when a student is suffering from test anxiety and what to do about it when he is to minimize any negative effects. Here's a list of symptoms that may indicate that your student is suffering from test anxiety:

  • It's difficult for him to get started with studying
  • She's easily distracted even when she does get started
  • He feels he will not do well regardless of his very best efforts
  • She has physical symptoms at or near test time, such as sweaty palms, upset stomach, headaches and tension
  • It's hard for him to concentrate, follow instructions or understand the questions at test time
  • Her mind wanders even while taking the test
  • He tends to do well on papers and projects but poorly on tests
  • She often remembers material after the test is over that she forgot while taking the test

Parents need to be sensitive to the reality and struggle of test anxiety. Take time to talk with your student about her experience with tests and preparing for them. Here are some suggestions to help your child cope with test anxiety:

  • Help him develop good study habits long before test time so he can feel comfortable and confident about the material
  • Encourage him with lots of positive reinforcement. Help him catch and correct his defeatism and replace it with positive thoughts
  • Make sure she's rested and well fed at test time
  • Help him develop a strategy for the test so he'll feel a sense of control
  • Remind him to ignore the other students!
  • Encourage him to shake off the test once he's finished it and turned it in. He needs a break!
  • Help him learn from mistakes on the test and build on successes. Let him know you're behind him all the way.

Test anxiety is a mental block and it's fed by negative thinking. But the specific thoughts that plague your child are clues to helping him. If he feels under-prepared, take specific steps for alleviating that feeling. If he feels like there's too much to do to get ready, help him get a handle on it by organizing his time and hatching a plan. Do whatever you can to help her come away from a test with a sense of accomplishment.

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