This week NAPLAN starts in Victoria. These tests are sat to “provide information for students, parents, teachers and principals about student achievement which can be used to inform teaching and learning programs.” However, more often than not, they cause a huge amount of stress for said students, parents, teachers and principals.
So, what’s the key to surviving NAPLAN?
1. Use a bit of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy! The idea behind CBT is that it’s not what happens that causes emotions, but how we think about this. Be aware to catch any catastrophising thinking errors and minimise these (it’s not the end of the world!).
2. Tune in to your child: Even though we want to minimise worries about tests, don’t be dismissive of your child’s anxiety. Using phrases such as “I can see you are feeling worried” can help your child acknowledge their worry and help them to explore why they are worried. It is much easier to help them challenge a thought if they feel accepted and validated, than if they feel you are dismissing their feelings.
3. Use Mindfulness: Be aware of your own body signals that indicate stress. Teach children to use relaxation strategies to manage these. My favourites are simple: breathe slowly and deeply; bring your mind back to the present by noticing or counting something in your environment; give your brain a different problem to solve by counting in 13s, or saying the alphabet backward.
4. Don’t forget self-care: Make sure you have a good bed time routine so your child can sleep well; eat well (don’t skip breakfast!); do things that you love before and after the test.
If you are a parent or teacher looking for further support, please get in touch. Alternatively, if you want to teach a whole class, or group of staff, about stress management, please call or email for a quote for training.