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Test Anxiety - Early Elementary

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I went to a highly selective university with a young woman who had severe test anxiety. I don't know how smart she actually was, but she was easily the smartest person in our study group.  She had to drop out junior year because she could not pass an exam.  I do not know what happened to her.   To me, you need to look at yourself. It does not seem reasonable for a child that age to have test anxiety. How could a child know the significance or importance of a test unless the parents are explaining it to the child that you must be perfect, or expressing disappointment after the test.  Sure, some will say that that never express disappointment overtly, but the kids can pick up on the subliminal..  With my 7th grader, who is taking precalc, and competes in above grade level math competition ,i I tell ,him, before every exam-- have fun--whatever he gets, I will be proud of him for trying.  He mostly surprises me with his results. On occasion, I am disappointed. But I keep my disappointment inside. I give him a  big hug, tell him how proud I am of him , and that we will get them next time. i DON'T EVER TELL HIM THAT HE COULD HAVE DONE BETTER IF.. BLAH, BLAH. Next time is usually successful/.

 

I have no idea what the case is in OP's case, but in our case, we had nothing to do with dd's test anxiety. It was the general hyping of tests across the school culture and the teachers. One of dd's teachers apparently told the kids that she would lose her job if they didn't perform well on the standardized tests and they (they being the whole school culture)  also kept stressing that 3rd grade was a "must pass" year, implying the kids would be held back (which wasn't true) if they didn't pass. That's a lot of pressure for an 8 year old. That is what I blame for the anxiety. It doesn't have to be the parents. No one will know what that teacher is saying to those kids, or what other messages the kids are being sent unless they are in that classroom every. single. day.

 

And I hate to say it, but when it comes to academics in brick and mortar schools I think that a lot of kids take what their teachers and peers say/evoke more seriously than they often do their parents. Our dd didn't care what we, or anyone else said about her not needing to pass the test. She cared about pleasing her teacher. She believed her teacher about failing and thought we were wrong because in her 8 year old mind the teacher's authority in school surpassed ours. I don't think anyone can expect a child to overlook something as insignificant when it's being stressed by a teacher, at least until they're much older. That is a lot of nuance for a child to discern when they should take the teacher seriously versus not. It sends a mixed signal, and I'm not sure what the right answer is in those situations. We never figured it out except to pray for the year to run quickly to move to the next grade.....

 

I don't know if that's the case here, but I definitely wouldn't jump straight to the parent as being the originator of the pressure. I get that it can come from that angle in a lot of cases, but I haven't detected that vibe from the OP. 

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And I hate to say it, but when it comes to academics in brick and mortar schools I think that a lot of kids take what their teachers and peers say/evoke more seriously than they often do their parents. Our dd didn't care what we, or anyone else said about her not needing to pass the test. She cared about pleasing her teacher. She believed her teacher about failing and thought we were wrong because in her 8 year old mind the teacher's authority in school surpassed ours. I don't think anyone can expect a child to overlook something as insignificant when it's being stressed by a teacher, at least until they're much older. That is a lot of nuance for a child to discern when they should take the teacher seriously versus not. It sends a mixed signal, and I'm not sure what the right answer is in those situations. We never figured it out except to pray for the year to run quickly to move to the next grade.....

 

 

I completely agree with this. When I was in the 4th grade, my teacher had us pray the Our Father, even though this was a public school. I'm sure she only got away with it because it was the Bible Belt. 

 

My family was Catholic and the teacher prayed the Protestant version of the Our Father. I remember noticing that it was different than how we prayed it at home and at church and assuming that the teacher's version was right because she was the teacher. 

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I have no idea what the case is in OP's case, but in our case, we had nothing to do with dd's test anxiety. It was the general hyping of tests across the school culture and the teachers. One of dd's teachers apparently told the kids that she would lose her job if they didn't perform well on the standardized tests and they (they being the whole school culture) also kept stressing that 3rd grade was a "must pass" year, implying the kids would be held back (which wasn't true) if they didn't pass. That's a lot of pressure for an 8 year old. That is what I blame for the anxiety. It doesn't have to be the parents. No one will know what that teacher is saying to those kids, or what other messages the kids are being sent unless they are in that classroom every. single. day.

 

And I hate to say it, but when it comes to academics in brick and mortar schools I think that a lot of kids take what their teachers and peers say/evoke more seriously than they often do their parents. Our dd didn't care what we, or anyone else said about her not needing to pass the test. She cared about pleasing her teacher. She believed her teacher about failing and thought we were wrong because in her 8 year old mind the teacher's authority in school surpassed ours. I don't think anyone can expect a child to overlook something as insignificant when it's being stressed by a teacher, at least until they're much older. That is a lot of nuance for a child to discern when they should take the teacher seriously versus not. It sends a mixed signal, and I'm not sure what the right answer is in those situations. We never figured it out except to pray for the year to run quickly to move to the next grade.....

 

I don't know if that's the case here, but I definitely wouldn't jump straight to the parent as being the originator of the pressure. I get that it can come from that angle in a lot of cases, but I haven't detected that vibe from the OP.

Yup! My kid is 8 and in 3rd grade and came home in September (or thereabouts) talking nervously about PARCC. This is fhe same year she has developed math test anxiety. Coincidence? I think not. She is a rule follower and a people pleaser plus a worrier so I've had to work with her to overcome this (& I am not sure we are 100% successful). It's really quite terrible how they transfer this anxiety onto little kids who don't yet have the discernment and coping mechanisms to weather it.

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Yup! My kid is 8 and in 3rd grade and came home in September (or thereabouts) talking nervously about PARCC. This is fhe same year she has developed math test anxiety. Coincidence? I think not. She is a rule follower and a people pleaser plus a worrier so I've had to work with her to overcome this (& I am not sure we are 100% successful). It's really quite terrible how they transfer this anxiety onto little kids who don't yet have the discernment and coping mechanisms to weather it.

 

Dd's ended up manifesting in math too at that point. We both still look back at her 3rd grade teachers and have trouble thinking charitable thoughts. It took years to undo. I think it's difficult for some people to realize how much impact teachers can have in a negative manner in such a short time and how long it takes to undo it. You hear a lot about how certain teachers changed someone's life for the positive and everyone applauds and believes it, but if you have a damaging teacher somehow you're simply supposed to process that and move on at the age of 8 or 9. It doesn't work that way for a lot of kids and I wish there was less perception of a kid being a "special snowflake" when they have trouble coping with the pressure and realize instead that it's the environment that's the problem. Not the child. 

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Dd's ended up manifesting in math too at that point. We both still look back at her 3rd grade teachers and have trouble thinking charitable thoughts. It took years to undo. I think it's difficult for some people to realize how much impact teachers can have in a negative manner in such a short time and how long it takes to undo it. You hear a lot about how certain teachers changed someone's life for the positive and everyone applauds and believes it, but if you have a damaging teacher somehow you're simply supposed to process that and move on at the age of 8 or 9. It doesn't work that way for a lot of kids and I wish there was less perception of a kid being a "special snowflake" when they have trouble coping with the pressure and realize instead that it's the environment that's the problem. Not the child.

 

I say all the above as a PS teacher & a math one to boot! However, I have always put a premium on rapport and see it as the gateway to effective instruction. While I professionally have been pressured to 'perform' on tests I don't believe in passing that sentiment to students--even my middle school ones.

 

Seeing things through a parental lens is quite different and while my daughter's teacher is decent I nonetheless think not much deep thought is given to pedagogy nor much flexibility tolerated in PS (despite claims otherwise). Personally I resent math phobia can be so senselessly created at such a young age--it takes the pleasure & beauty out of a wonderful discipline. So while I cannot home school completely, this is why I feel the desire to after school. I aim to provide a counter perspective to those limited school experiences.

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Yup! My kid is 8 and in 3rd grade and came home in September (or thereabouts) talking nervously about PARCC. This is fhe same year she has developed math test anxiety. Coincidence? I think not. She is a rule follower and a people pleaser plus a worrier so I've had to work with her to overcome this (& I am not sure we are 100% successful). It's really quite terrible how they transfer this anxiety onto little kids who don't yet have the discernment and coping mechanisms to weather it.

It’s so sad how the whole testing thing has gotten so entirely out of control. I grew up in IA and we took the IA test of basic skills every year. I don’t remember any pressure or hype at all, it was just part of the yearly routine. In fact, I enjoyed the tests because at least in elementary school, they had a map reading part that I loved, and we never got to do anything like that in school. So obviously there was no teaching the test going on at my school. 😜

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