Written by Founder and CEO, Sara Potler LaHayne
For the next few weeks students all over the nation will be buckling down and testing how far they’ve come all year long. But not everyone considers themselves a good test taker. This often stems from anxiety and results in a lack of focus.
Share these “10 Tips To Thrive During Testing Week” with your students to help reduce stress and improve confidence in the classroom.
1. Breathe – Close your eyes and inhale deeply. Pause for a moment after inhaling to suspend all feelings of anxiety or stress. Exhale slowly and get all of the air out of your lungs. Repeat three times.
2. Set time to be you – It’s testing week, so exams are already taking up significant amounts of time and brain space. Be sure to engage in activities that bring you joy or make you smile to relax yourself during such a stressful time.
3. Exercise – Getting your heart rate up is one of the most proven and effective ways to reduce stress. Working out prompts your brain to focus on the body instead of anxiety.
4. Visualize Success – The imagination is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. Have students close their eyes and think about a time they were happy and/or relaxed. Students should focus on the feeling. Smiling is highly encouraged.
5. Share – Allowing students to share feelings of anxiety around testing lets them know that they are not alone, which can reduce levels of stress in and of itself. To take this exercise to the next level, have students act out their stress through role-playing or other creative activities.
6. Eat Well – Healthy food stimulates the mind and body to maximize performance on test days. If possible, provide cinnamon or peppermint snacks. Some research shows that the smell of cinnamon and peppermint stimulates the brain to improve focus.
7. Stretch – If your body is tight, your mind will be, too. Provide time for students to stretch before exams, and encourage them to stretch throughout the week. This will encourage healthy blood flow. Exercises such as jumping jacks can also help.
8. Drink Water – If students feel overwhelmed during an exam, allow them to get a drink of water to pause and reset.
9. 1 + 3 + 10 – Educational Psychologist Dr. Michele Borba has a three-step technique for relieving tension. “1” is for students to remind themselves to, “Be calm.” The “3” stands for taking three deep breaths. After the deep breaths, students should count to “10” in their heads. Viola!
10. Sleep – I know, you’re like, “How am I supposed sleep with so many exams coming up?!” If you can follow some or all of the steps outlined above, sleep should come easier. A good night’s sleep can be your best ally. In addition to relaxing your muscles and brain, sleep is how short-term memories become long-term memories that can be recalled during an exam.
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