Friday, November 04, 2011

Stress Tests

My oldest daughter has hit that critical grade, 3rd. This is the year she is required to begin taking standardized tests. That will start next week with our district's practice standardized tests.

As I may have mentioned in the past, this darling daughter struggles with anxiety. She does not, however, struggle with academics. I really thought we had convinced her not to be concerned about these tests, but it seems I was wrong.

Tonight, in a flash of exhaustion and frustration unrelated to school, she said, "It's just my life is so hard."

I managed not to laugh and pulled her close to me and asked what was making things feel so hard. The first thing out of her mouth was about these practice tests next week. Ugh. Really? Sheesh.

My response to this was to tell her that she doesn't have to take these tests. If they are causing her stress and anxiety then I will write a letter saying that we refuse to have her participate. We did talk a bit about what these tests are, why they take them, and what to expect. (I don't really believe in all of the things I said, sadly, but I don't need to add that burden too.) My great hope here is that she will actually take these tests, but without any stress or anxiety, and finds that they are nothing to worry about. That said, if she is still worried and upset about them I will refuse to let her participate.


doyle said...

Dear Jen,

3rd grade is a biggie.

I'm way out of line here, but I'd bet she'd be more receptive to you telling the truth than you might realize. Tell her exactly what you think.

If it makes her giggle and relax, ready to fill in bubbles, well, let her go make her school proud.

If it contributes to her anxiety (but possibly will make adolescence that much less stressful between the two of you), well, pull her out of the testing.

You're her mother. You're fierce in the finest sense of the word.

You know what to do.

Jason Buell said...

I don't know what your rules are, but in California parents can opt out of state testing. Might be something to look into. You're in VA right? All I could find was this:

Looks like you "can" but not as easily as in California. Might be something to consider though.

And yes, even though Abigail is only in Kindergarten, I have this fully researched and ready for when she hits 2nd grade and CA STAR testing starts.

jwg said...

Run to the nearest bookstore and buy her "Testing Miss Malarkey." Read it often. And be honest with her. Opting out is not an option around here so humor is the next best approach.

Sarah said...

I think you did the right thing! I hope she can overcome her anxiety!!!!

Jenny said...

doyle, as always your comments and thoughts are so greatly appreciated. We've been talking more about this throughout the weekend and (I hope) we are both feeling better as time goes on.

Jason, I can opt her out, at least for now. I'm not sure that is true once she hits high school. I hesitate because I fear this is something she will have to come to grips with at some point. But I will opt her out if she seems to be suffering from anxiety.

jwg, I hadn't thought about that book at all. Thanks for the suggestion. I am grateful that I have the choice to opt her out if we decide that is the best way to go.

Sarah, thanks for the encouragement. I hate the uncertainty about every decision we make as parents.

This morning she and I spent some time looking at last year's end of year SOL test for 3rd graders (for math so far) and she was able to answer most of the questions pretty easily. I'm hoping that when she feels that she knows what to expect she will feel more confident.

Faith said...

My daughter too has suffered from, and continues to suffer from, anxiety. The way we handled her testing was to offer to take her out for a special treat afterwards if she would do it. I told her it didn't matter to me how she did on the test, just that she would take it. Then, when she completed it I told her how proud I was of her that she did it, even though I knew it was hard for her.

I think young people today feel being brave or courageous is not being afraid or anxious. Instead, the opposite is the case. I tell them true courage is what one does when anxious or afraid. You are also wise to give her an opportunity to mature. She may need one more year, but she may surprise you and be courageous now.