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How Can My Daughter Overcome Her Test Anxiety?

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Guest blogger Olivia: My daughter Andrea, 9, is a bright kid. At our last parent-teacher meeting, her teacher said she wished she could "clone" Andrea and have every student be like her. Andrea's a model student, engaged in all her classes and an avid reader, and her grades reflect that. She gets A's across the board ... until she has to take the yearly state test. She gets extreme anxiety about it, because everyone puts so much emphasis on doing well.

girl at school
The month prior to the test, her teacher prepares her with practice tests (which Andrea does great on -- go figure!). The teacher constantly reinforces the importance of reading the directions completely, taking her time and going back to check her work. Of course I want Andrea to do well on it, because the better she does, the more opportunity she'll have when she gets into middle school. 

But I guess my encouragement has only raised Andrea's anxiety level about disappointing everyone. I've told her that I'll love her and be proud of her no matter what, but the fact is, it IS important for her to do well on this test. If she does "above average" on either the math or language-arts portion two years in a row, she'll automatically get enrolled in her school's "talented and gifted" program, which will afford her even more learning opportunities. I know that Andrea is in the above-average range in both of these areas -- and so does her teacher -- but since the Mother of All Tests doesn't agree, I'm worried she's going to miss out on a lot. 

How do I get Andrea to relax about this test? She knows her stuff, but she has trouble proving it when it really matters. Moms, have any of your children been able to overcome test anxiety? How did you do it? Help!

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61 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 7, 2010, 2:12 PM

I think you’re going to have to lie her about the GT thing. Tell her the tests don’t matter.

Talk to the teacher about the anxiety. If she wants your daughter to do well, she needs to back off from talking about the tests. Give her one practice test and if she does well on it, tell her she doesn’t need to study, you know she is going to do well.

Talk to the school counselor and see if they have any tips on helping kids relax.

If your daughter seems to have problems with taking tests when there’s no pressure, try to figure out what’s going wrong.

Berenice October 12, 2010, 11:28 AM

You are giving a lot of matter to the importance of the test. lay back a little, she feels that the more interested you are in her results the more important the test, the more important not to fail, and that is a lot to handle for a 9 year old.

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