If you or your child suffers from test anxiety, you are NOT alone!
In Ontario, this time of year is rather stressful for children in grades 3 and 6 because they are required to write a provincial test called EQAO Test (Education Quality and Accountability Office) in both literacy and math.
This is a test that is set out to “measure students’ cumulative knowledge and skills in relation to a provincial standard”. The test is given at the end of a student’s primary years and junior years at the elementary level and the results are used to compare schools and boards across the province of Ontario.
Information taken directly from www.eqao.com.
I have my own opinions about this test and I am happy to discuss with any of you via email. Feel free to Contact Me should you wish to ask me any questions.
On on to the main topic of this post: TEST ANXIETY
My daughter is finishing up grade 3 and as a result, she is writing the EQAO test, beginning this week. This is a test that she has been worried about the entire school year. In fact, the buzz surrounding this test is so huge that students in grade two beginning thinking and talking about this test. For a typical child this would cause some form of stress, worry or anxiety. For a child who suffers anxiety on a day to day basis, this 5 day long test that the students prepare for all year is enough to send them into an anxious tailspin!
What parents do to help children stay calm about EQAO
and have less test anxiety?
- Remind your child that this test is NOT about their individual results.
- If your child feels better prepared by studying, help your child study, even if it means sitting beside them while they review.
- Give your child something to look forward to either at the end of every test day OR at the end of the entire test.
- Take your child shopping for some special school supplies for the test to help them feel more prepared as well as excited about some new supplies.
- Take your child shopping (or have them brainstorm a list) to buy some special snacks for their test days.
- Consider planning a surprise to send to the class for the end of the test. An example might be a special baked treat, a story book for the classroom wrapped in multiple layers so they can play “pass the present”, stickers or pencils for the class.
- Follow your child’s cue and only talk about the test when they bring it up. Sometimes, the buzz created by adults discussing EQAO is enough to cause a child’s stomach to go into knots.
- Teach your child how to focus on slow, deep breathing as a way to stay calm.
- Remind your child that their only job is to do their best.
- Consider teaching your child some meditation as a relaxation strategy to use both when they are worrying or if they are having difficulty sleeping due to their test anxiety.
This year, our neighbour brought over a goody bag filled with loot from our city (she works for the city) and there happened to be pencils, erasers, notebooks and a nice pencil case. The timing of this gift could not have been any better. My daughter and I decided to turn this into a special EQAO Survival Kit. I took her to buy her own pack of special gum because the students are allowed to chew gum during the test. We also headed to the grocery store to stock up on some food items that she can have for snack on test days. I tried to make it special by allowing her to pick out a couple of items that I don’t usually buy for my children.
Of course, I included my 5 year old son in all of this “fun stuff” so that he wouldn’t feel left out, but also for him to learn that there are “fun” parts to the EQAO experience as well. He has already been hearing a lot of negative buzz about the test both from my daughter as well as from adults around him.
the survival kit sounds like a great idea. I loved your tips and tricks, my son has so much anxiety for his grade 6 exams, so I’m totally going to apply some of the tips mentioned above,
Thank you 🙂 Let me know how it goes, Amber!
Wow, I didn’t realize they had testing for those age groups! My girls are past that but the tips are very helpful to my older kids as they hit exams too 🙂 I don’t think you can ever totally remove anxiety when prepping for a test but you can definitely minimize it.
I fully agree with you, Natalie!
I find rubbing the outside of your ear is calming – I learned that tip from a naturopath to help in situations of anxiety. Great tips and so important for parents to teach their kids to relax in tests – a lifelong skill
What a great tip to try, Kerrie, thank you!
It is rather very sad that these very young children have to endure this kind of stress at such a young age. I think your tips are excellent, especially that the parents do not make these tests a topic of constant conversation all the time and reassure their child when the CHILD brings up the topic.Special snacks are good as well as a ‘survival’ treat. Hugs.
Thanks for your kind words, Elva!
We are not at the “testing” stage yet, but I am not looking forward to the stress that comes with it. Some great tips to remember when the time comes.
Ya, it’s not so fun Kate, but hopefully your little guys will have an easy going personality like yours that will help them stay cool as a cucumber for the tests!
Im on the pta at my daughters school, and EQAO is a big issue for so many parents and students. Thanks for sharing these tips to making it easier
How exactly do you mean it is a “big issue” for the parents? Stress wise or otherwise? Thanks for your comment!
Thanks for the tips!
These are fantastic tips Amanda. This is such a thoughtful post. I have two kids who suffer from a lot of anxiety and one who is cool as a cucumber, you couldn’t stress him out if you tried…go figure. A couple things I’ve learned as my oldest is now headed to university and has learned to cope with a multitude of stresses. You mentioned the ‘treat” at the end of the exam/audition/appointment/interview etc and it’s been a huge help and is something they learn to plan for themselves no matter what the stressful event. “When it’s done I’m gonna go to Starbucks” is hers 🙂 Also I still have to remind them the difference between the physical symptoms of stress (stomach ache, head ache) and being sick. Sometimes they stress themselves out more by thinking they are sick on top of everything but these are symptoms they can learn to manage as you addressed, and magically go away when the stress is over! Wow long comment from me but always a relevant topic! Thanks!
LOVE the long comment, Andrea! It is sometimes VERY difficult to understand the difference between physical symptoms of anxiety and illness, that is for sure!
Great tips, hope to pass them on to my daughter to help prepare the grandkids
Thanks for the awesome post. I used to have terrible anxiety before exams. I hope my boys don’t worry as much as I do.
Me too, Cheryl!
My daughter starts Grade 3… thanks for the tips. I had no idea about this testing I guess I’ll find out this year.
No problem! Thanks for reading them 🙂
Here is a link to a book that a good friend recommended to me for children whose anxiety gets better the more prepared they feel… http://shop.prepforsuccess.ca/?pn=Primary+EQAO+Booklet+%28Grade+3%29&p=641&c=1&cn=Products
oh this is wonderful thank you so so much.
I will look into this further and pass the info on to my daughter, I have one grandchild going into grade 5, one in grade 3, one in grade 2 and two in senior kindergarten
You’re one busy Grandma! LOVE it!