My daughter failed her test even with lots of preparation. Any suggestions?
My child is in third grade this year and the first test was a failure BIG time. I don't understand, at home there is not a problem, she could spit out the answers and knew the information, but I was sent home a note with the test results and it was awful. My child and I studied everynight for this test for a 1 1/2 weeks and she had the information down-so I thought. What can we or I do to help her with this subject? My child does have a disability(spina bifida) but you would not know it to look at her- she is not mentally delayed or anything-however she is very self concious about it and the fact that she is a lot taller and bigger than others in her class. Any suggestions about classroom behavior or any suggestions would be helpful, thanks.
Has your daughter always had difficulties with test anxiety, or is this a new development? If she has always had difficulties showing what she knows on exams, she may be exhibiting certain learning differences that prohibit her from succeeding on exams. For instance, she may have slow processing speed, and with proper assessment, she may benefit from accommodations, such as extra time on tests.
If the test anxiety is a new development, I would want to talk with her to better understand her experience on the exams. When did she notice a change? What is she thinking during the exams? Basically, what is her experience?
To help combat your daughter's anxiety, help her to identify the thoughts as they come that are tearing down her self-confidence. Explain to her that we experience many thoughts throughout the day that greatly affect the way we feel; thoughts and emotions are very closely related. As an example, while taking a test, a student may have difficulty with the first two problems and think, "These are hard! I didn't study well enough. I'm going to fail this test and my parents will be soooo mad!" Naturally, this kind of thinking generates a spike in anxiety and affects a student's ability to think critically and generate an answer.
Once she has identified these thoughts, teach her to test the reality behind these beliefs. Is it likely that she will fail the test given how long she studied? She did really well during the study review the night before. And, besides, if she failed, you, her parents, would certainly understand.
Ok, so she has identified these thoughts as false, so now what? Teach her to generate a "counterargument." In this case, she might say to herself, "I studied as much as I could, and I am well prepared. I think I will do just fine on this exam." If necessary, you and she might go over some counterarguments the night before and write them down on a note card. Discuss this with her teacher beforehand in order to allow your daughter to keep her note card on her desk to remind herself that she IS prepared.
Finally, remind your daughter to get a good night's rest the evening before, eat a healthy breakfast, and practice some relaxation exercises before the exam. She might get to her desk a few minutes before the exam, take five deep breaths and repeat in her head, "I am prepared. I can do this!" over and over again.
L. Compian, Ph.D.
Education.com Expert Panel
One question I have to ask is - are you sure it's test anxiety? Honestly, it could be the teacher's fault (and I say this as a teacher). How well were the questions on the test aligned with what your daughter was asked to study? For example, in algebra, students may be asked to solve for x with equations such as 3x + 2 = 5 and then on the test they are presented with something like 3x + 4 = 2x - 1. Although, it's the same concept, a student needs to be taught explicitly how to solve that second problem, and the teacher needs to introduce this material, guide the student in solving it, and allow the student to take responsibility by solving similar problems him/herself (with guidance as necessary). It sounds like your daughter prepared well for the test: she studied well in advance, practiced a lot of problems, and dispersed her studying over several nights. However, I must also ask you, when she was answering the questions at home, how much were you guiding her? Did you really allow her to solve the problems on her own? Ask yourself these questions and reflect on the interactions you had with your daughter as the two of you were studying.
After saying all this, I must admit that I am new to the profession of teaching, but with the training I have received and the experience I have, these are a few of the things that I have learned. I hope it helps.
I am more concerned about your level of involvement than with the failing of one test. Your child needs to own the results of her tests. That's not going to happen when it seems that you are more invested in the results than she is. And its not all about the information in the test. As much as you love your child, and you clearly do, you do her no favors by not allowing her to develop her own methods of study and coping skills for test taking. School is as much about learning how to learn as the knowledge gained. If you must, hire a tutor, but your involvement, unless she asks you, is to make sure there is an appropriate environment for study, enough time to study and a quick once over to make sure assignments are completed. This may not be a politically correct view, and some teachers love to pass over their responsibilities to parents, but as a parent who raised 4 children to adulthood, I assure you your child will have more success ultimately in school if you step back rather than forward. Good luck.
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