Easing Test Anxiety and Stress as a School Counselor

Help!  Our kids are stressing about the test!

Have you heard this plea from the teachers in your building?  I know I have!  Because I don’t have my own classroom, it’s also hard to sometimes address this on a full-scale need.  There are some kids that always seem to be calm and cool as a cucumber, but there are others, as you may know, that will over in the corner hyperventilating because of the stress.

There are several things you can do to help with stress, even without being in the classroom.

1.  Provide your teachers with a list of resources to help with test stress.  Include links to videos, websites, and lesson plans.  I added this to our Free Resource Library!

2.  Offer to teach a classroom lesson.  Even just hitting one grade level, will help, and if you do this each year, you will eventually teach skills to each grade level.

3.  Send home a special edition testing newsletter.  Include reminders to parents about not scheduling appointments during testing times, getting a good night sleep, dressing comfortably and having a healthy breakfast. (For an online newsletter try Smore)

4.  Put together classroom test prep stress-free kits.  Include bookmarks, lists of coping strategies, cootie catchers, or color by code test strategies coloring sheets.   These allow students to color (an excellent coping skill) and learn the strategies that will best prepare them for test day. I also added a color your own cootie catcher to our Free Resource Library.

5.  Play A Game.  Play Test Taking BINGO, I Know Test Taking Skills Card Game, I Have, Who Has Study Skills or Pin The Strategy On The Test!  Learning should be fun, and these games will help let off steam and learn skills.

6.  Offer small group counseling for those students who get really stressed and could use the extra practice using coping skills.  Knowing coping strategies is very different than practicing them and putting them into action, and a small group will allow students that time to experiment with what will work best for them.

7.  Post affirmations as reminders that they are awesome, prepared, and smart.  Believing in yourself is a key ingredient to success.

8. Chalk it up!  I like to decorate the sidewalks the first day of testing to try to reframe nervousness with excitement.

9.  Celebrate their success!  Don’t forget that even after the test is over and handed in, many students continue to feel stressed.  Remember to acknowledge their hard work.  Leave some paper and markers on cafeteria tables or create a bulletin board that students can write on to share their successes.  I’m lucky that I have a popcorn machine and I’ll be making popcorn for lunch after our math testing is over! Check out this post to see some ideas.

I’d really love to hear your ideas about how you help to ease testing anxiety.  Leave a comment below and let me know!

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