Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger

If you are a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade parent, I am sure you know that STAAR testing is coming up soon!! This is a time where many of our students start to get nervous and anxious. Many develop test anxiety, so I wanted to make sure all of our students have the skills to cope with and diminish anxiety, especially when it comes to tests. I visited all 3rd-5th grade classrooms and we read the story, Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger, which is about a boy who becomes very nervous before a test. He shows all the signs of anxiety: butterflies in his stomach, sweaty palms, a heart that is beating super fast, his mind is going blank, and he feels extremely nervous. In this story he learns how to calm himself down, prepare himself, think positively, and remembers it's just a test and he is prepared and will do great.
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Your children should be coming home with a packet that includes many tips for being prepared for the test and learning how to calm down. The packet also includes ways you can help as a parent, so they feel relaxed and confident. 
We talked A LOT about positive thinking and believing and verbalizing that they CAN and WILL do well on the test and to think of it as getting to show how much they know and have learned, instead of all the negative thoughts that come to mind. We talked about how you can turn almost any negative into a positive if you try. Also, being well prepared will greatly reduce any anxiety or stress. If you are prepared for something, you generally feel a lot better about it and have positive feelings. 
You can help as parents, too, by being sure they get to bed early the night before the test, so they are well rested and feeling good in the morning. Also, making sure they have a nutritious breakfast in the morning will really help! Exercise is also very good for improving brain stimulation, it releases endorphins for those feel-good feelings, decreases stress, and helps keep your kids healthy. You can also help by encouraging them to just do their best and helping them to understand that if they miss some questions, it will be okay, and they can just try better next time. A whole lot of pressure is not necessary and won't help them. Try to keep everything very positive. 
I will be in their classrooms again on Monday to go over a couple of short breathing activities that help to calm down an anxious body. This is good for any situation that causes stress, not just test taking. Here is a video that is helpful in remembering to "Just Breathe," whether we are mad, frustrated, anxious, or stressed out:

Have a great three-day weekend and Easter, if you celebrate it!! :-)

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