As the school year winds down, the season of test-taking begins. EQAO tests are happening soon, and high-schoolers are preparing for exams. These exams feel like high-stakes situations leaving children feeling anxiety and stress around both the result and the actual testing experience. Fortunately, whether your child is in elementary or secondary school, there’s plenty you can do to support them.
Talk about the actual test: Discuss the purpose of the test with your child and if appropriate, how it directly impacts them (e.g., gathering useful information about their knowledge vs. a percentage of grade).
Discuss strategies for calming nerves: Learning how to slow down and focus on your breathing is a proven strategy relax and reduce anxiety. With practice (follow these tips), children can do this during stressful situations to bring on more relaxation and reduction of tension.
Practice test-taking strategies: Highlighting important words or numbers, writing down formulas, and skipping the question to revisit it later are helpful tips to practice with your child in advance.
Schedule time to review material: Take out the family calendar and work with your child to block out extra time to prepare. If possible, plan on reducing additional commitments during this period. Being ready for a test and exam goes a long way towards feeling confident about the results.
Prepare necessary tools: Talk with your child about what they need and are allowed to bring to their test. Pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, calculators and water bottles are relatively standard equipment for tests. Elementary students doing EQAO are often allowed to bring in books, magazines, and drawing paper to use if they finish before their peers.
Maintain a healthy sleep schedule: Sleep helps your brain function and increases energy levels and focus. A proper bedtime routine including plenty of before bed screen-free time will help your child have a good night’s rest.
Show empathy and support: Taking exams and tests is hard and so is being a student. Sharing your own experiences and words of encouragement can help your child feel supported.