helping kids cope with testing anxiety

As an elementary teacher, you understand the pressures your students face when it comes to testing. From standardized tests to usual weekly quizzes, the stressors accompanying testing of all kinds can weigh heavily on little ones. Use 3 simple tips for helping kids cope with testing anxiety!

  1. Recognize Common Testing Stressors
  2. Teach Strategies to Combat Test-Anxiety
  3. Use Teaching Tools

1. Recognize Common Testing Stressors

There are many common testing stressors children may experience when it comes to taking assessments. Students worry about completing tests within the allotted time. They are afraid of forgetting important information during the test. Some children fear disappointing their parents, teachers, or even themselves. 

It’s helpful to teach students to identify which stressors are affecting them the most. 

child taking a test

Other common testing stressors may include:

  • Being hungry
  • Too difficult
  • Being overwhelmed
  • Negative thinking
  • Difficult concentrating

Impact of Testing Stressors

The impact of testing anxiety in children can have significant, negative impacts on their lives. 

These stressors can have physical or emotional symptoms: 

  • Physical symptoms:
    • Upset stomach
    • Headache
    • Sweating
    • Trouble breathing
    • Feeling dizzy
  • Emotional Symptoms
    • Anger
    • Fear
    • Stress 
    • Overwhelm

Once they realize which testing stressors are impacting them the most, they can choose the best strategy to combat them! 

2. Teach Strategies to Combat Testing Anxiety

It’s crucial for you to introduce strategies prior to testing to help your students navigate their test-anxiety. 

  • Use calming strategies
  • Be prepared
  • Talk to a trusted person
  • Think positive thoughts
  • Take your time

Use Calming Strategies

Teach your students ways to calm their nerves before and during test-taking times. 

Yoga is a fantastic calming technique for students prior to testing! Find a list of easy-to-do yoga poses in this all-in-one Mindfulness Resource.

child using test taking strategies

During testing, students can use relaxation techniques like deep breathing or utilize fidgets to help calm any nerves they may be feeling.

If utlizing any calming techniques during testing, remind students to only take short breaks!

Some of these strategies can easily be used actively during testing.

Be Prepared

Next, students should be prepared! Help them clearly know what that means. 

Test prep includes reviewing testing content for a few days or weeks before testing. Prep time doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated!

Depending on their age and the testing content, they may be able to do this review independently or with another person, like a parent or older sibling. 

Another piece of being prepared is getting a good night’s sleep and making sure to eat breakfast prior to testing. 

Being prepared takes away so much stress on testing day!

Talk to a Trusted Person

When children experience testing anxiety, it’s important for them to talk to a trusted person about their feelings. 

A trusted person is often an adult such as a favorite teacher, parent, or school counselor.

Expressing concerns out loud can help others identify appropriate strategies for dealing with these stressors.

Students don’t need to deal with their testing anxiety alone!

Think Positive Thoughts

It’s also important to teach students about positive self-talk. In small or large groups, have peers name off positive attributes in their classmates. 

As students recognize characteristics that make them special, they can more easily think positive thoughts while taking tests.

taking a short break helping kids cope with testing anxiety

You can also contribute to this positive self-talk by writing positive notes to students on test days! 

Take Your Time

Another great coping strategy is taking your time! 

Remind them that testing is NOT a race; the first person done actually does not get a prize. There’s no need to rush!

helping kids cope with testing anxiety

Encourage students to read all testing directions carefully, show their work*, and check their answers. 

*Make sure students know that showing their work isn’t just helpful for you to understand how they arrived at an answer; it’s also helpful for them as they recheck their work before finishing the test!

Other Helpful Coping Strategies

  • Cross out wrong answers
  • Stay focused
  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Get a good night’s sleep

3. Use Teaching Tools to Help

You can also use engaging resources and relatable books and videos to help kids cope with testing anxiety! 

Testing Anxiety Resource

Use this Testing Stressors Activity to help students identify testing stressors and learn how to cope with them. 

testing stressors resource helping kids cope with testing anxiety

Students only need the handouts, scissors, and pencils to complete this fun activity!

With this resource, you’ll also have access to:

  • Sorting activity
  • Personal reflection pages
  • Posters
  • Coping skills activity
  • & more

It’s also aligned with ASCA standards so you can be confident in your selection!

Books & Videos

anti-test anxiety society book

"The Anti-Test Anxiety Society" by Julia Cook is a must-have when teaching about testing anxiety! This book provides a humorous and relevant story about a little girl named Bertha Billingsworth who despises taking tests! Her teacher helps her learn to shift her mindset and teaches her 12 amazing strategies for overcoming testing anxiety.

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I get a small commission that costs you nothing and helps me continue to provide this content. 

5 Tips for Coping with Test Anxiety (for kids!) by Mylemarks is a 5-minute video perfect for reinforcing your testing anxiety lessons or as an introduction to the topic! 

Be confident that you can help kids cope with testing anxiety! As you teach students to recognize what common testing stressors are, know how these stressors can impact them, and understand helpful coping strategies to use to combat them, you are setting them up for TESTING SUCCESS! 

You might also be interested in reading:

Children’s Books that Teach Mindfulness

Teaching Mindfulness in the Classroom 

You might also be interested in these products:

Character Education: Mindfulness Resource

Emotions Workbook 

Color the Feelings Workbook 

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