Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Test Anxiety and School Worries

Parent Pick-Up Group Topic: 3/21/13

The topic for this group was test anxiety, but the conversation focused more on anxiety and worries in general. Counselors discussed anxiety management strategies that they have been implementing in the Character Education classroom lessons with kindergarten and first grade. These lessons also serve as an introduction to the Peace Program's mindfulness curriculum developed by Linda Ryden that she conducts with the older grades. In the lessons with younger classes, students have been taught ways to relax their bodies through breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization. Below is an outline for a relaxation lesson:

  • Session begins by counselor ringing a triangle. Students are instructed to listen and raise their hands when they no longer hear the triangle to practice blocking out distractions and focusing on the ringing sound. 
  • Students are asked to lay on their backs on the floor or sit comfortably at their desks and close their eyes. They are led through belly breathing exercises, practicing deep breathing as a form of relaxation. 
  • Students listen to a recording of a progressive muscle relaxation exercise (from Building Emotional Intelligence book and CD set). Another popular activity is called "The Wave" and is a relaxation/visualization exercise in which the students imagine a comforting wave coming over their body and taking away all of their stress. 
  • After the activity, students discuss as a class what their bodies felt like relaxed. Students were asked to draw a picture of their bodies relaxed, or of themselves in a relaxing place (examples included: the beach, on a cloud, in bed). Students also had the opportunity to draw the relaxing wave coming over their bodies. 
These strategies can be used to help with a variety of worries and anxieties, including test anxiety. This week (March 26-27) students have PIA testing, and will begin DC CAS testing the week of April 22nd. It might be helpful to practice some of these relaxation or mindfulness strategies with your child if he or she becomes anxious around testing time. Our goal is to reduce anxiety around these tests and reinforce the idea that students should just try to do their best!

Do you have any strategies that have been effective in reducing anxiety or worries with your child? Please feel free to share your ideas and thoughts in the comments section!

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