Well, testing season is upon us once again and so I thought a helpful topic for this post would be reducing test anxiety! Let’s roll up our sleeves and jump into lots of resources and tips on this topic.
Reducing Test Anxiety: The Problem
As I wrote about in my book, Get Your Group On Volume 2, I had the amazing opportunity to live and travel outside of the United States several years ago. Most of my time was spent in developing countries across three continents. During this time, I always noticed the lack of stress, both in my life and in the lives of the people around me. Here in America, we live in a culture that moves at such an incredibly fast pace and with constant bombardment of stimuli and information. I never realized this until I left the USA. Suffice it to say, there are many places in the world where people have practically unlimited time to eat, converse, walk, think, and spend time with friends and family while still managing their work and family life! We just don’t have that culture here in the United States, and it affects our well-being, health, peace of mind, and, most importantly, our children.
Kids today are often overwhelmed by our fast-paced culture, and they need tools to help them manage their resulting anxiety and stress. When I lived abroad, I would never even have thought to teach students techniques on how to manage their stress, but here in the States, I do it all the time, especially during testing season in schools.
Reducing Test Anxiety: Solutions
Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce test anxiety. The solutions below are all effective ways to manage test anxiety; they can also be used to minimize other kinds of anxiety.
- Change Your Perspective Instill a growth mindset in your students by having them watch this fabulous Michael Jordan commercial that views failure from a completely different (and better!) perspective. Show the video and then foster a discussion on how it relates to test anxiety and fear of failure.
- Breathe Teach students a stress reduction strategy that they can use right at their desk in the class. Grounding, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing all work wonderfully in this capacity. Here is a link to a unique breathing strategy that you can teach your students.
- Color that Stress Away! Studies show that coloring helps to calm stress. Here’s a link to free mandalas that your students can color: https://www.free-mandalas.net/.
- Talk it Out In the beginning of a guidance lesson or group session, give students a chance to discuss anything on their mind related to stress. Keep these discussions to 5–10 minutes so they don’t take over the entire session or lesson. You can even post the following guidelines on chart paper and review them with students before the discussion, as needed:
- 5–10 minutes
- focused on solutions, not problems
- not name specific
- about test anxiety
- Humor Me! And if all else fails, just take a break to laugh and sing a little! Show your students one of these creative and catchy testing music videos:
Reducing Test Anxiety: More Resources
Here are some of my other favorite anxiety calming resources:
- If you teach/counsel littles, here’s a great music video on belly breathing featuring famous musicians Common and Colby Caillet!
- Here’s a super article from Edutopia on supporting students during testing season: Survive and Thrive During Testing Season.
- My own spring guidance lesson on helping students battle anxiety through simple and effective calming strategies.
- Take it Easy is a 6 session group guide on managing and reducing stress.
- The AntiTest Anxiety Society and True or False, Tests Stink! are two of my favorite children’s books on this topic!
NEWSY & NOTEWORTHY
- I am beyond excited to announce that my new book (co-authored with Dr. Russ Sabella) is available!! This book has everything you ever wanted to know about making extra money on the side, using your counselor or educator skills. Here’s the link if you want to check it out School Counselor Side Hustle now.
- Another new opportunity that I am just bursting with excitement over is the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) request to video livestream my “Student Crisis in Schools” presentation that I will be giving on Monday, July 1st at 1:30pm!! So if professional development from your couch or counseling office is more your style, here is the link to sign up to view it.
- And just a quick reminder that on April 16 at 11:00am, I’ll be presenting on group counseling in an ASCA webinar called Psychoeduccational Groups in Schools. Here’s the link if you want to view it.
- Also remember that there is a fabulous mental health group on Facebook called Mental Health Marketplace which aims to de-stigmatize mental health issues through sharing resources and information. Join the Mental Health Marketplace group here!
- I had a blast at the Texas School Counselor Association conference last month! My co-counselors and I won the CREST award for excellence in school counseling!!!
This brings me to the end of my March post. Please leave a comment because I’d love to hear how you support students with test anxiety! Catch up with me again in April for my monthly counseling post that I share during the first weekend of every month!