Jump to content

Menu

Test Anxiety - Early Elementary


Recommended Posts

My daughter is in the 2nd grade. She does very well in school and is somewhat of a perfectionist. She has a spelling test every friday with 15 words. They are required to do 4 spelling activities during the week in their spelling notebook to practice for the test; e.g. write the words on the sidewalk using chalk, type the words with different fonts, etc. One of the activities is a mock spelling test which we always do on thursday night. As part of the activity, they have to write every word they have miss 3 times. 

 

My daughter cries every thursday night unless she spells every word correctly. She doesn't like having to write the misspelled words 3 times. 

 

The teacher has asked me if something is distracting my daughter because she is not doing very well on her spelling tests lately. Before Christmas, she would only misspell one of her words on average. Since coming back from Christmas break, she's misspelled about 5 or 6 words on average. She has misspelled words that she spelled correctly on the mock test and had not issues with through the week. Their words are getting harder to spell; e.g. this week is "eigh" words. This is Catholic school so they always have at least one religion word which are usually hard to spell; e.g. conscience, Reconciliation. She often spells the hard words correctly and misspells the easier words. I think this is because of anxiety. But could also be because the words are getting harder. 

 

I told the teacher that my daughter is doing her spelling activities every night at home and that I think she's anxious during the test. I also told the teacher that she cries every thursday night. 

 

I've not said anything to my daughter about her spelling tests because I don't want her to get more anxious about it. I don't care how she does on her spelling tests in the 2nd grade. But I don't want her to feel nervous and feel bad about herself for missing so many words. She told me the other night that she needs extra help in spelling and could never win the spelling bee. 

 

Any advise to help her deal with her anxiety? Should I continue to play this down or help her to do better on the test so she can get her confidence back? If the best course is to help her to prepare better for the tests, what's the best way to help a young child prepare for a spelling test? 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:grouphug: 

 

I agree test anxiety may be causing her to lock up.  Also, though, the system they are using to teach spelling may be a poor fit for how she learns and internalizes spelling so the method itself may be increasing her anxiety.

 

How are they teaching spelling rules?  Is it all sight word based?  Limited phonics?  Heavy on phonics?  Do they pair lots of homonyms/homophones/homographs together?

 

FWIW, at least for me and my kids, constantly copying a word over and over and over never helped me to retain how the word was spelled long term.  If this method is not actually helping your daughter AND is causing additional anxiety I would discuss with the teacher that you would like to try a different method and just eliminate the copying altogether for a few weeks.  The goal is for her to learn how to accurately spell the words.  If this method isn't working then another method should be tried.  Hopefully the teacher is flexible enough to understand that and be willing to let that happen.  Perhaps you could try additional phonics instruction at home, play some games with the words, create a song or some other method that might help her better connect with the spelling of the words she is struggling with while also hopefully alleviating some of her anxiety.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it were me, I would talk with the teacher and tell her that we would not be doing the mock tests anymore.  We would diligently work on the assigned spelling words each day, and I would make sure that over the course of the week DD wrote each word at least 3 times, but that I would not be putting my child through the extra stress of the Thursday test.

 

Then, I would ask the teacher to simply not return DD's Friday tests.  Either she could just not hand anything back, or I would provide her with a stack of "form letters" that just said something along the lines of, "Good Job, DD.  I can tell you are working hard on your spelling!!" and she could hand that to DD when everyone else got their test.

 

For my anxious kid, that would be the best plan to emphasize that spelling is important, but that the test results are not.

 

Wendy

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the responses. 

 

They use a reading curriculum called SuperKids which is phonics based. I don't know about the spelling rules. Last week and this week, the rule appears to be about "ie" versus "ei." I asked about i before e except after c... and she looked at me blankly. IDK, is that old fashioned? Maybe kids don't learn that rule anymore? 

 

I thought about trying to work on the rules with her so she understands the why of spelling. I think that would help her more than writing the words over and over again. 

 

I'll ask about the teacher not handing back the grades. 

 

Am I wrong to be a little irritated about "conscience" in the second grade? 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the responses. 

 

They use a reading curriculum called SuperKids which is phonics based. I don't know about the spelling rules. Last week and this week, the rule appears to be about "ie" versus "ei." I asked about i before e except after c... and she looked at me blankly. IDK, is that old fashioned? Maybe kids don't learn that rule anymore? 

 

I thought about trying to work on the rules with her so she understands the why of spelling. I think that would help her more than writing the words over and over again. 

 

I'll ask about the teacher not handing back the grades. 

 

Am I wrong to be a little irritated about "conscience" in the second grade? 

 

The problem with the "i before e except after c" rule is that it is wrong a lot more often than it is right.  For example, "conscience" is clearly "i before e even after c".

 

You might want to read The ABC's and All Their Tricks.  It could help you explain to your daughter why her spelling words are spelled as they are.

 

Wendy

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing that helped my kids was to ask them to look at each challenging word and "take a picture in their minds."  I used to quiz them not only on paper but also orally.  (On paper was actually more helpful for mine, but all kids are different.)  Also, we always talked about the phonic elements if there were any that could use review.  I would point out the word part and the phonic rule and look for additional examples in the environment.  I would ask, which letter(s) in this word are silent?  What letter(s) make the 'f' sound?  Things like this increased recall on the test.

 

You might also try going over the spelling list on the morning of the test, of that doesn't tend to increase anxiety.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem with the "i before e except after c" rule is that it is wrong a lot more often than it is right.  For example, "conscience" is clearly "i before e even after c".

 

You might want to read The ABC's and All Their Tricks.  It could help you explain to your daughter why her spelling words are spelled as they are.

 

Wendy

 

"I before e except after c, or when sounding like ay as in neighbor and weigh."  And sometimes you have to go back to the root of the words before you spell them.

 

Of course there are always exceptions to every rule.  :)  It's kind of amazing kids learn to spell at all, with all the exceptions.

Edited by SKL
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the responses. 

 

They use a reading curriculum called SuperKids which is phonics based. I don't know about the spelling rules. Last week and this week, the rule appears to be about "ie" versus "ei." I asked about i before e except after c... and she looked at me blankly. IDK, is that old fashioned? Maybe kids don't learn that rule anymore? 

 

I thought about trying to work on the rules with her so she understands the why of spelling. I think that would help her more than writing the words over and over again. 

 

I'll ask about the teacher not handing back the grades. 

 

Am I wrong to be a little irritated about "conscience" in the second grade? 

That does seem a rather poor word to tackle for a lot of second graders from the spelling side of the equation.

 

I would probably make an appointment to talk with the teacher directly when you both can sit down and have an in depth unhurried discussion.  Ask to see the spelling program they are using.  It may not be truly phonics based, it may be sight word based.  That may not work well for your child. She may need something with more explicit phonics instruction AND incorporate more explicit sight based learning.  Or something else altogether.  Also, their program may combine several skills in one lesson or tackle things that are similar and that may be causing her confusion.  In your example, comparing the ie words to the ei words, how did they approach explaining this in class?  Depending on how the program approaches this, it could work well or it could be a total nightmare.

 

For instance, in DD's 3rd grade class they started using a program that compared several different types of similarly spelled words.  The premise was that if you learned a set of words using a specific vowel combination but did not compare that with other ways of handling/pronouncing/spelling similar vowel combinations it might appear that the child is internalizing the rules but they may get really confused when you introduce exceptions/different vowel combinations, etc.  Unfortunately, hitting her with all of these different ways of approaching this sound/different vowel combinations wasn't clearing things up, it was making it impossible to keep it all straight.  DD was getting so confused.  I was helping her and realized that the way they were approaching the material was EXCEEDINGLY confusing, at least for me and DD.  In fact, words that I had spelled correctly for YEARS I was suddenly AS AN ADULT forgetting how to spell.  I was second guessing myself because they were using all of these similarly spelled words with different rules applied and I was getting where I couldn't remember the correct spelling anymore. It was as if the program was helping me unlearn spelling.  :glare:  :)  Frankly it was awful and I wish they had never used that program.  Maybe it worked for others (although there were other parents whose kids were also struggling).  It did not work for my child. (And even the teacher admitted she thought the word choices were poorly selected.).

 

Dig in deeper.  Find out what program they are using and see if you can determine how it is being implemented in the classroom.   You may have to really work closely with the teacher AND teach your daughter the spelling words using a different approach when she is home.  Your goal is two fold: 1.  Alleviate her anxiety.  2.  Help her find a way to actually learn how to spell effectively.  

 

FWIW, I found that there were many practices in place in the school system that did not work well for all kids.  One size does not fit all.   I had to tweak and adapt what was required from the school to what would actually work for my own kids.  If copying definitions ad nauseum didn't actually help my child learn vocabulary I had to advocate for a different way to learn the definitions, for example. Some teachers were absolutely amenable to that.  After all, the purpose is to learn.  If they cannot learn using the expected methods then a GOOD teacher is usually willing to adjust those methods or support a parent who can.  I had several teachers that were very supportive of DD approaching her homework differently than instructed as long as she was genuinely doing something to learn the material.  One teacher in particular had only ever taught one way and had taught that one way for decades.   She could not shift, could not comprehend that other people might learn the material better using a different method for homework. Honestly I think she thought I was nuts.  LOL.  Hopefully you don't have one of those.

 

Hugs.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My daughter is in the 2nd grade. She does very well in school and is somewhat of a perfectionist. She has a spelling test every friday with 15 words. They are required to do 4 spelling activities during the week in their spelling notebook to practice for the test; e.g. write the words on the sidewalk using chalk, type the words with different fonts, etc. One of the activities is a mock spelling test which we always do on thursday night. As part of the activity, they have to write every word they have miss 3 times.

 

My daughter cries every thursday night unless she spells every word correctly. She doesn't like having to write the misspelled words 3 times.

 

The teacher has asked me if something is distracting my daughter because she is not doing very well on her spelling tests lately. Before Christmas, she would only misspell one of her words on average. Since coming back from Christmas break, she's misspelled about 5 or 6 words on average. She has misspelled words that she spelled correctly on the mock test and had not issues with through the week. Their words are getting harder to spell; e.g. this week is "eigh" words. This is Catholic school so they always have at least one religion word which are usually hard to spell; e.g. conscience, Reconciliation. She often spells the hard words correctly and misspells the easier words. I think this is because of anxiety. But could also be because the words are getting harder.

 

I told the teacher that my daughter is doing her spelling activities every night at home and that I think she's anxious during the test. I also told the teacher that she cries every thursday night.

 

I've not said anything to my daughter about her spelling tests because I don't want her to get more anxious about it. I don't care how she does on her spelling tests in the 2nd grade. But I don't want her to feel nervous and feel bad about herself for missing so many words. She told me the other night that she needs extra help in spelling and could never win the spelling bee.

 

Any advise to help her deal with her anxiety? Should I continue to play this down or help her to do better on the test so she can get her confidence back? If the best course is to help her to prepare better for the tests, what's the best way to help a young child prepare for a spelling test?

I also have a perfectionist who leans towards anxious. She has developed math anxiety this year. I ocassionally take her to a counselor who is helping her deal with such issues. From what I have learned, framing the 'problems' realistically is important as is not shying away from them. What I didn't realize is regular calming practices is equally important so that they can be called upon during times of stress. So she practices deep breathing often in the hopes that she can use this technique to self-soothe when truly needed. My daughter has also made herself 'stress balls' (balloons filled with flour) she likes to use in class. I hope this helps.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would move her from thinking 'extra help' is bad. She needs to move to understanding that everyone has strength and weaknesses, and if she want to put the extra work in, she will move her weakness to a strength more quickly.

 

As far as never being able to win the spelling bee...may be true. There may be someone who has a photographic memory and the time to learn a lot of words, so she won't be in that league. But for now, she could set a goal for herself that effort will earn for her.

 

If she has no hearing problems, I would change the method used for studying the words. I'd also get the words in advance and start Friday until she develops enough confidence that the method is working that you can start the study on Monday afternoon. What works for my visual guy:

1. know the rule, examine word for phonics ...the silent e, the ck sound etc so there is awareness that the word won't always be spelled like it is heard

write the word, saying each letter

close eyes, and say the word , then spell the word while visualizing the letter

2. spell the word backwards, visualizing the entire word while reading right to left . Look at the word if needed in order to do so.

3. spell the words forwards, visualizing the entire word while reading it left to right. Look at the word if needed in order to do so.

4. write the word in a short sentence.

I agree that dealing with perfectionism is necessary. I say that as a parent with a perfectionist! It rears its head quite a bit & so dealing w/ the root cause seems the most effective strategy. It's not easy and I don't have all the answers but I know that I must keep reminding my daughter she need not be perfect but yet needs to give it her all nonetheless. It's a life lesson in the making. It's tough at times but the goal is a more realistic self-perception and acceptance (which makes it worth the current effort).

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I asked the teacher today if we could try some different spelling activities (devised by me - no extra work for her). She said no. She said we can re-evaluate this in a few weeks. 

 

Obviously I have to be more involved in the spelling to help DD learn the spelling rule that is being taught that week. I've been pretty hands off; just "do your spelling," that's it. 

 

I'll work with her a little bit closer on spelling over the next few weeks and see how things go. If it's still a problem, I'll talk to the teacher again. 

 

I'm not sure about a counselor yet. We're meeting with a feeding specialist next week to discuss my daughter's pickiness which is getting worse. I don't want to put too much on her. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I asked the teacher today if we could try some different spelling activities (devised by me - no extra work for her). She said no. She said we can re-evaluate this in a few weeks. 

 

Obviously I have to be more involved in the spelling to help DD learn the spelling rule that is being taught that week. I've been pretty hands off; just "do your spelling," that's it. 

 

I'll work with her a little bit closer on spelling over the next few weeks and see how things go. If it's still a problem, I'll talk to the teacher again. 

 

I'm not sure about a counselor yet. We're meeting with a feeding specialist next week to discuss my daughter's pickiness which is getting worse. I don't want to put too much on her. 

Oooookaaaayyyyy.....

 

FWIW, my mother was a teacher, my grandfather and grandmother were teachers, I have cousins who are teachers, and I have taught in a classroom several times so I am not without experience or background in how challenging teaching in a classroom setting can be.  I have the utmost respect for people willing to teach in a classroom. 

 

That being said, I must say I am EXCEEDINGLY disappointed in this teacher.  If the parent is willing to work with their child at home to find an approach that might work better for addressing struggles, and improving actually learning of the material, that is awesome.  The goal should be TO HELP THE CHILD LEARN, not follow lock step with what everyone else is doing even if it isn't working just because that is what everyone is doing.  My way or the highway regardless of how well they are learning with that approach is, honestly, a poor way to approach learning.  You are not asking her to completely rearrange her classroom or actually change anything at all in her classroom.  All you are asking her for is some understanding while you try different approaches at home to find a positive and more effective way to work on the trouble areas in your child's spelling.

 

I'm sorry she wasn't more flexible and open-minded.  Hopefully you can find ways to help your child despite the inflexibility of the teacher.

 

As for her feeding issues, those can be anxiety driven which can be tied to perfectionism (anxiety and perfectionism often go hand in hand and feed off each other).  If she is feeling more anxious it can cause her to be more and more "picky" in her eating habits.  

 

Whatever course of action you take, please keep your child's mental health at the forefront.  Long term mental health trumps spelling tests by miles and miles.  

 

:grouphug:

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I asked the teacher today if we could try some different spelling activities (devised by me - no extra work for her). She said no. She said we can re-evaluate this in a few weeks. 

 

Obviously I have to be more involved in the spelling to help DD learn the spelling rule that is being taught that week. I've been pretty hands off; just "do your spelling," that's it. 

 

I'll work with her a little bit closer on spelling over the next few weeks and see how things go. If it's still a problem, I'll talk to the teacher again. 

 

I'm not sure about a counselor yet. We're meeting with a feeding specialist next week to discuss my daughter's pickiness which is getting worse. I don't want to put too much on her. 

 

:grouphug:  Picky eating is so hard.

 

With my younger daughter who was having some anxiety -- "my mind just goes blank and I think about everything else!"-- I worked with her on getting to a happy place. Worst case scenario, at least she learns how to relax, even if it doesn't help her do well on the test. And that's more how I presented it. I said I didn't want her to be so worried at school because it's just paper and I know that she could do well in a work environment if she had time. So we talked about getting a happy place. I talked about my happy place, where I'm at a mountain lake, the sun is shining, the berries are ripe and I am sitting there with a book and there's a cool breeze on the lake.

 

Her happy place is basically living in a real-life Candyland, lol. So we talked about closing your eyes, breathing in, and going to that place.

 

It doesn't matter whether you remember the words, just remember that you are loved. And if that helps you do your best, great. If you still can't remember, just remember your whole family loves you and believes in you.

 

This has really helped. She doesn't always get 100% but she is usually much more proud of her score and she isn't afraid of the tests.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oooookaaaayyyyy.....

 

FWIW, my mother was a teacher, my grandfather and grandmother were teachers, I have cousins who are teachers, and I have taught in a classroom several times so I am not without experience or background in how challenging teaching in a classroom setting can be. I have the utmost respect for people willing to teach in a classroom.

 

That being said, I must say I am EXCEEDINGLY disappointed in this teacher. If the parent is willing to work with their child at home to find an approach that might work better for addressing struggles, and improving actually learning of the material, that is awesome. The goal should be TO HELP THE CHILD LEARN, not follow lock step with what everyone else is doing even if it isn't working just because that is what everyone is doing. My way or the highway regardless of how well they are learning with that approach is, honestly, a poor way to approach learning. You are not asking her to completely rearrange her classroom or actually change anything at all in her classroom. All you are asking her for is some understanding while you try different approaches at home to find a positive and more effective way to work on the trouble areas in your child's spelling.

 

I'm sorry she wasn't more flexible and open-minded. Hopefully you can find ways to help your child despite the inflexibility of the teacher.

 

As for her feeding issues, those can be anxiety driven which can be tied to perfectionism (anxiety and perfectionism often go hand in hand and feed off each other). If she is feeling more anxious it can cause her to be more and more "picky" in her eating habits.

 

Whatever course of action you take, please keep your child's mental health at the forefront. Long term mental health trumps spelling tests by miles and miles.

 

:grouphug:

I agree wholeheartedly (as a public school educator [to boot]). My comments above re: anxiety are still how I feel--they need to be addressed (this is from personal experience w/ my child). However, flexibility is key in education as well. What works for one kid doesn't for another and it's the teacher's job to not only keep this in mind but emcourage/celebrate it when it arises. To me, that's a sign of a welcoming and accepting classroom culture.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I before e except after c, or when sounding like ay as in neighbor and weigh."  And sometimes you have to go back to the root of the words before you spell them.

 

Or even more accurately: When it says ee, then it's i before e, but not after c. This makes it clear that words like "theist" don't count - the ei there doesn't represent the single sound ee.

 

Homework in elementary school has not ever been shown to improve learning. I would have no qualms whatsoever about writing a note to the teacher saying just that and opting out of this assignment permanently - with or without her permission. And yes, this is the hill I'm willing to die on. Your kid is crying over this stupid assignment. Her teacher evidently doesn't care. That's not okay.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice. 

 

The school doesn't have a counselor or a psychologist. 

 

We make our daughter do her HW because the consequence for not doing HW is staying in at recess. Allegedly that is against state law but I'm not sure whether the law applies to private schools. Regardless of the law, that was the same consequence of not doing HW in my daughter's public kindergarten. (Yes, kinder where my daughter had about 45 minutes a day of HW. That's one of the main reasons why we transferred her to private school.) 

 

I generally like DD's 2nd grade teacher. She's gotten my daughter excited about science and math. My daughter has always been a strong math student but she always claimed to not like math. Now she's excited about math. I think she also likes my daughter personally. I think the reason she is not flexible about the spelling HW is that other parents have asked the same thing and she wants to give a consistent answer. 

 

We did not do the mock spelling test last night and there were no tears. We told our daughter that she had to choose a different spelling activity other than taking the mock spelling test. 

 

I was talking to DD last night before bed trying to gauge how she felt about school. She told me about how her paper about why she liked her school couldn't be read at Mass for Catholic Schools Week because she didn't finish it in time. She was trying to make it "exciting." My daughter is starting to like to write. She spends a lot of time on her HW writing assignments and turns in pages of work (only one page is expected). DD cried a little when she was telling me that story. 

 

Then she told me that she never has time to read in class because she never finishes her work until right before they are supposed to check it. This is a recurring theme. She had the same issue in 1st grade. I see all of the work she does in school. She gets almost every question right. I talk about it with her so I know she understands the material. 

 

I think it's the same issue. She wants it to be perfect. 

 

I'm worried that because she has no free time to read in class that she's getting enough practice in reading. She reads every night before bed. All she wants to read is the Princess in Black series and the Dragonmasters books. She has access to so many books. We talk about books to buy and she says she wants to buy a particular book. I order it from Amazon and she won't read it. 

 

I wish I could tell her to put aside the stupid worksheet in school and read a book. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We make our daughter do her HW because the consequence for not doing HW is staying in at recess. Allegedly that is against state law but I'm not sure whether the law applies to private schools. Regardless of the law, that was the same consequence of not doing HW in my daughter's public kindergarten. (Yes, kinder where my daughter had about 45 minutes a day of HW. That's one of the main reasons why we transferred her to private school.)

 

If that's the case, then I'd still engage in some civil disobedience. Nobody but you needs to know if she actually was tested on her words on Thursday or if you just wrote them out and she copied them down. Nobody but you needs to know if she actually wrote her words on the sidewalk in chalk, or typed them up, or if you did those things (or just checked the box that she did them). It's okay to be dishonest to protect yourself or somebody else from harm.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I reviewed next week's spelling list last night and identified all of the spelling rules and phonograms in the words. So I'm ready to go through the list with my daughter. 

 

I think I might buy some magnetic letter tiles at Lakeshore Learning so my daughter doesn't have to write the words doing her work with me because she has to write the words for her homework. 

 

WRT "civl disobedience," I'm not sure how I could do it without my daughter knowing that it's being done. I don't want her to learning that lying is okay. 

 

Although I've noticed that it seems like the teacher might not actually check the spelling notebook. I noticed that I forgot to sign the pages the last few weeks and no one said anything. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

WRT "civl disobedience," I'm not sure how I could do it without my daughter knowing that it's being done. I don't want her to learning that lying is okay.

 

You do you, but I have explicitly told my kids just what I said in my post. Lying is okay when it is done to protect you or another person from harm. Lying is NOT okay when it is likely to harm others with no benefit to anybody but yourself, when it's to get out of the consequences of your own bad behavior*, when it is boastful, or when you're under oath. It's NEVER okay to tell a stupidly obvious lie, because that's just insulting. It MAY be okay to tell a "white lie" to protect somebody's feelings... you have to take the long-term results into account, though. It may be better to be honest in a nice way.

 

In my experience, most kids are capable of surprisingly more nuance than we think.

 

* Unless those consequences are likely to be disproportionately harmful, in which case we're back to point one. If you end up in a dystopian universe where there is summary execution for shoplifting, dude, lie through your teeth.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I reviewed next week's spelling list last night and identified all of the spelling rules and phonograms in the words. So I'm ready to go through the list with my daughter.

 

I think I might buy some magnetic letter tiles at Lakeshore Learning so my daughter doesn't have to write the words doing her work with me because she has to write the words for her homework.

 

WRT "civl disobedience," I'm not sure how I could do it without my daughter knowing that it's being done. I don't want her to learning that lying is okay.

 

Although I've noticed that it seems like the teacher might not actually check the spelling notebook. I noticed that I forgot to sign the pages the last few weeks and no one said anything.

Oh, you could also make words from Play-doh or Scrabble tiles!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ordinary Shoes, it sounds like using magnetic letters and such may be the right approach for now--turning an inevitable (unpleasant) task into a more pleasant one by presenting engaging activities in a warm environment. When my daughter started showing math test anxiety this year, I not only advocated for her in the classroom but counter-balanced it with 'feel good', enriching, and supportive activities at home. While I would have preferred not to do 'damage control' I feel I nonetheless curbed the issue and we still enjoy math (which I hope will be the prevailing sentiment).

Edited by Earthmerlin
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm thinking more about this issue in the context of anxiety. I've read about the connection between picky eating and anxiety. 

 

I wonder if I have a larger problem here. If so, I'm not sure how to solve it. We could transfer our daughter to a private Montessori school but she would miss her friends. 

 

I went through the spelling words with my daughter yesterday. There were tears. She was upset because she has been out playing with her friends. She asked to watch a family movie (we watched the 2015 version of Heidi - very good!) so we told her that meant that she needed to have her homework done by 6:30 so she had to come in from playing with her friends to finish her HW. She had Mass homework and Reconciliation preparation HW plus a short discussion about her spelling words. 

 

The spelling list didn't make much sense to me but I'm sure there's some rationale for it. Most of the words used "aw" sound using "a," "augh," and "ough." Then there were a few words with the "ough" phonogram making the "oo" sound and "uf" sounds. My daughter asked to watch the Youtube video of Ricky Ricardo trying to read a book with words with "ough." English is tricky, just ask Ricky. That lightened the mood a little bit. Her hard church word this week is "confession." We talked about how "si" makes the "sh" sound when it's not at the beginning of the first syllable. That annoyed her because it was at the beginning of the 3rd syllable. 

 

She said she was crying because she didn't having to do homework on the weekend. I told her that I wished she didn't have weekend HW either. 

 

 

Edited by Ordinary Shoes
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Late to the topic, but I agree that you don't have to do what the teacher says. Teachers can be well-intentioned but still misguided. One of the best things my mom ever did for me -- a perfectionist with a strong need to obey authority -- was tell me that I could pick my books to read, rather than read the school's books in second grade. I hated the school's books, since I had levelled out of the regular books and was getting textbooks. My mom let me go to the library and read what I wanted. The teacher never asked why I wasn't reading the books I was supposed to.

 

My first grader's spelling words are very difficult. He's had apprentice, vibration, and beautician. He's not a natural speller.

 

We do what works for him. He enjoys a writing app I got him to practice. It's a finger tracing app, and he types in the spelling words himself. That counts as one of your spelling activities. We do a mock test, but it's all low stress. The tricky words get a star, and as he learns the words, the stars go away. He feels motivated to see that progress.

 

Still, for spelling tests, he always makes extra mistakes. We tell him that mistakes are fine, and that we're proud of his results. This has helped a lot, because there were definitely tears about not getting everything perfect.

 

Don't listen to the teacher. Do what is right for your child.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you change 'hw' to 'chores' are you also getting tears? 

Is the problem really homework, or is it that the dc wants to control her day and make it all play and entertainment?

 

No, we don't usually get tears when it's chores or some reason she has to stop playing. I think this is HW. I think she resents it deeply. I think she knows that she shouldn't have to do it and she resents it. I think she's knows that the HW is a waste of time. It's possible that I'm projecting because I know the HW is a waste of time. But she knows that her HW is never hard and that she whips through it quickly and it doesn't actually help her with her studies. 

 

It's hard not to sympathize because I don't think 8 YOs should be doing HW either. I never had HW at that age. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know what methods they use at school for spelling. The at home activities don't seem to be that helpful to my daughter. They are activities like do jumping jacks while spelling the word (this is her favorite activity), writing the word in sand, writing the words in chalk outside, calculating a value for the word which each letter assigned a numerical value, and writing the words multiple times. 

 

None of these activities seem to help my daughter to learn the spelling rules. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You say the spelling homework is too easy.  Maybe it would be better if you chose the hardest options given for the homework.

 

When my kids were 6, they were required to write sentences using their spelling words.  This allowed a lot of opportunity to make it interesting.  Could they use two or more of the spelling words in the same sentence?  Could they use all the spelling words in a more-or-less logical paragraph / essay?  Could they write rhymes, jokes, seasonally-relevant statements ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure that she's not remembering the rules from class. She usually does very well on her spelling tests. It's only been recently that she's started missing more words on her tests, even though she can spell them correctly at home. I think she's getting nervous during the tests and second guessing herself and then making mistakes on the test. 

 

I'm not really concerned about her spelling. I'm concerned about her getting nervous during her tests. I'm also concerned that she sometimes cries when she has to do her HW. 

 

I think the anxiety could be helped by being more confident in the spelling rules. I think she knows them but doesn't know that she knows them so she second guesses herself. 

 

The crying during HW shouldn't happen for an 8 YO. An 8 YO should not cry over something that has no demonstrable benefits like HW in early elementary school. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RE the not taking advantage of extra help because she cried last week when I tried to help her with her spelling. That was because she had to come inside and stop playing with her friends because she had 3 HW assignments to complete on a sunday evening. We could hear all of the other kids on the street still playing. My daughter was angry and I don't blame her. She's 8. 8 YOs should be able to play on sunday evenings instead of doing HW. To be clear, she doesn't have more HW than the other kids on the street but the other kids in public school don't have weekend HW. 

 

I don't think she's not learning the spelling rules in class. She spells the words correctly at home demonstrating that she is learning the rules. She gets nervous during the tests and misspells words that I know she knows how to spell. I know that she can spell them because she's gotten them correct on the mock spelling test and spells them correctly when we discuss it in the car. She must have the memory techniques if she can spell the words correctly during the week. 

 

I need to reiterate that I don't care if she does poorly on her spelling tests. She's reading well above grade level and spells the words correctly other times. She could get 0% on the tests and I would not care. 

 

I do care that she cries when she has to do her spelling HW and I care that she gets nervous when she's taking the test. 

 

I'll repeat myself - 8 YOs should not have any HW besides maybe reading. A 2nd grader who is in school for 7 hours should have more than enough time in school to practice spelling words enough to know them. There is no demonstrated benefit to early elementary school HW. There is also no demonstrated benefit to weekly spelling tests and standard elementary school spelling homework. 

 

Even though early elementary school HW is a waste of everyone's time, we still have to do it because the consequence for not doing it is no recess and depriving a child of recess is very bad. 

 

As I see it, there are many parts of school that are actually damaging to children. Our job as parents who send our children to flawed schools is to lessen the harm from school. Some children are harmed academically because the way they learn does not match how they are taught in school. Other children, like my daughter, are harmed emotionally. 

 

Maybe something drastic would work like telling my daughter to intentionally miss every word on the test and see that there are no consequences. The teacher might complain but there is nothing she could do about it. If you are afraid of failure, sometimes failing and realizing that the sky doesn't fall is helpful. 

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There have been various threads about helping kids who are stymied by perfectionism, in the accelerated learner forums.  Maybe they would be helpful.

 

I do think your daughter needs to understand that getting a 100% or an A on the spelling test is not the be-all and end-all.  Whether she does homework or not, that seems like it's going to be an issue until she learns to deal with it.

 

Personally I don't think it's worthwhile to put so much mental energy into whether or not an 8yo has homework.  Fact is, most 8yos do nowadays (and most 6yos for that matter) and that's not going to change no matter what you do.  Even if 8yo isn't the right age for homework in your opinion, when it finally is "the right age," your daughter is going to have to get used to it, so why not now, when the work isn't actually difficult?

 

You could help by scheduling homework time at a time when the other kids in the neighborhood are not out playing.  Personally I always let my kids go out and play when other kids were out.  I felt it was important for them to do that.  We did the homework at other times.  Sometimes in the car, during dinner, or after waking up early on a school morning.  Sometimes I let it go past bedtime rather than cut outdoor play.  Fact is, the balance between work, play, and sleep is a very tough one to keep, and I often fail at that; but there are times when we need to be flexible about all three of those important things.

 

I agree that spelling homework is not the most valuable activity for an advanced 8yo, but in my experience, when homework is a regular part of the day / week, it is much less likely to become a point of contention.  This is one reason why I always had a pile of "mom work" ready in case there was no assigned homework.  Academic review was simply part of the day, every day.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

RE the not taking advantage of extra help because she cried last week when I tried to help her with her spelling. That was because she had to come inside and stop playing with her friends because she had 3 HW assignments to complete on a sunday evening. We could hear all of the other kids on the street still playing. My daughter was angry and I don't blame her. She's 8. 8 YOs should be able to play on sunday evenings instead of doing HW. To be clear, she doesn't have more HW than the other kids on the street but the other kids in public school don't have weekend HW.

 

I don't think she's not learning the spelling rules in class. She spells the words correctly at home demonstrating that she is learning the rules. She gets nervous during the tests and misspells words that I know she knows how to spell. I know that she can spell them because she's gotten them correct on the mock spelling test and spells them correctly when we discuss it in the car. She must have the memory techniques if she can spell the words correctly during the week.

 

I need to reiterate that I don't care if she does poorly on her spelling tests. She's reading well above grade level and spells the words correctly other times. She could get 0% on the tests and I would not care.

 

I do care that she cries when she has to do her spelling HW and I care that she gets nervous when she's taking the test.

 

I'll repeat myself - 8 YOs should not have any HW besides maybe reading. A 2nd grader who is in school for 7 hours should have more than enough time in school to practice spelling words enough to know them. There is no demonstrated benefit to early elementary school HW. There is also no demonstrated benefit to weekly spelling tests and standard elementary school spelling homework.

 

Even though early elementary school HW is a waste of everyone's time, we still have to do it because the consequence for not doing it is no recess and depriving a child of recess is very bad.

 

As I see it, there are many parts of school that are actually damaging to children. Our job as parents who send our children to flawed schools is to lessen the harm from school. Some children are harmed academically because the way they learn does not match how they are taught in school. Other children, like my daughter, are harmed emotionally.

 

Maybe something drastic would work like telling my daughter to intentionally miss every word on the test and see that there are no consequences. The teacher might complain but there is nothing she could do about it. If you are afraid of failure, sometimes failing and realizing that the sky doesn't fall is helpful.

I had been thinking to suggest to just wing it for a week or two and see how that plays out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There have been various threads about helping kids who are stymied by perfectionism, in the accelerated learner forums. Maybe they would be helpful.

 

I do think your daughter needs to understand that getting a 100% or an A on the spelling test is not the be-all and end-all. Whether she does homework or not, that seems like it's going to be an issue until she learns to deal with it.

 

Personally I don't think it's worthwhile to put so much mental energy into whether or not an 8yo has homework. Fact is, most 8yos do nowadays (and most 6yos for that matter) and that's not going to change no matter what you do. Even if 8yo isn't the right age for homework in your opinion, when it finally is "the right age," your daughter is going to have to get used to it, so why not now, when the work isn't actually difficult?

 

You could help by scheduling homework time at a time when the other kids in the neighborhood are not out playing. Personally I always let my kids go out and play when other kids were out. I felt it was important for them to do that. We did the homework at other times. Sometimes in the car, during dinner, or after waking up early on a school morning. Sometimes I let it go past bedtime rather than cut outdoor play. Fact is, the balance between work, play, and sleep is a very tough one to keep, and I often fail at that; but there are times when we need to be flexible about all three of those important things.

 

I agree that spelling homework is not the most valuable activity for an advanced 8yo, but in my experience, when homework is a regular part of the day / week, it is much less likely to become a point of contention. This is one reason why I always had a pile of "mom work" ready in case there was no assigned homework. Academic review was simply part of the day, every day.

I also agree it sounds like budding anxiety &/or perfectionism (I could be wrong though). My daughter leans towards anxious and she's learning coping mechanisms to keep it in check. She's 8 so it'll be a childhood journey but I am already seeing some beneftis as she matures. Honestly, I think knowing how to quell worries is a life skill so I try to look at it that way.

 

I think a lot of her HW is kinda silly too. I honestly like her spelling HW though because a) she's not a natural speller & b) it teaches word or sound families. I slip in my own words (her common misspelled words) from time to time, LOL. Knowing her HW isn't always necessary (in my eyes) or top notch stuff, I don't hover over it. Instead I prefer to instill responsibilty and expect my daughter to keep her affairs in order. She's got a pretty good track record so I'm happy with my decision.

 

I make exceptions with projects--we work on those together--as I like to teach time management and task analysis still. Plus she will occassionally ask for math help so I'll naturally provide it. Maybe self-directed spelling HW might work for your daughter too?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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/.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really don't think this is us making her stressed about her spelling tests. We never even comment on how she does on the tests. I see it in the folder and don't say anything about it. 

 

BTW, DD has done much better on the last 2 spelling tests. She has missed only one word. We haven't had any tears about spelling HW either. We have modified the HW a little bit to make it more fun. For example, last week I used an app on Alexa for the spelling test. DD thought that was pretty fun. We've shortened some of the activities too. 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really don't think this is us making her stressed about her spelling tests. We never even comment on how she does on the tests. I see it in the folder and don't say anything about it.

 

BTW, DD has done much better on the last 2 spelling tests. She has missed only one word. We haven't had any tears about spelling HW either. We have modified the HW a little bit to make it more fun. For example, last week I used an app on Alexa for the spelling test. DD thought that was pretty fun. We've shortened some of the activities too.

Good to hear! The levity and brevity of things is helping, I'm sure. What's the Alexa app? We have her.....perhaps I should enlist Alexa's help with HW.ðŸ˜

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

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. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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. 😜

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...