Archive of ‘Test Taking’ category

Supporting Your Child During Test-Taking Season

With the upcoming STAR tests, AP exams, SATs, ACTs, and more— it’s no secret that school test-taking season is upon us. This time of year can be extremely stressful for the test taker (and the whole family!). Below, we’ll discuss some helpful tips for supporting your child during this busy testing season. 

Encourage Confidence

These tests can be challenging, but it’s nothing your kid or teen can’t handle! Encourage your test taker by helping them know their strengths and remaining confident in their abilities. Help them create an encouraging mantra they can say to themselves as a reminder when things get tough in the testing room. Send an encouraging note in their lunch, or give them a small trinket the morning of the test. Let your child know that you’re thinking of them and that you believe in them. 

Create a Routine 

Weeks before the test, brainstorm a realistic routine that will create consistency. Help your child figure out the best time to study, the best time to take a break, and the best time to ask for some support. Get as specific as possible, and get your child’s input when planning for bed time, snack breaks, and everything else that comes along with studying for a big test. 

Promote Sleep Hygiene 

Sleep hygiene becomes even more important during times of high stress or anxiety. Help your child create a realistic bedtime routine that will help them feel rested, calm, and capable on test day. Limit screen time before bed, and lead your child through a calming activity instead. You can even try some mindfulness meditation, yoga, or reading as a family. 

Help Ease Feelings of Anxiety 

Help your kiddo manage their test anxiety with mindfulness practices like deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation. These are tools we often use in therapy, and are even more effective when they are practiced with family members at home.  Validate that it’s completely normal to be anxious before a test and get their input on how you can help support them as they prepare. 


Don’t forget to celebrate with your child or teen after the testing is complete! Congratulate your child on their accomplishment, and try to limit your questions about the actual test material. Trust that they did their best and that they will bring the test up if they want to talk about it more. Plan to go to their favorite restaurant or hang out with friends to celebrate.  Giving your child something to look forward to can give them the motivation they need to do their absolute best on the test.  

I hope these tips prove to be helpful for your family as we enter a potentially stressful season in their academic careers. With consistency, encouragement, and preparation, we can support our kiddos as they continue reaching their scholastic goals. 

Written by: Morgan Rupe, LPC-Intern supervised by Kirby Schroeder, LPS-S, LMFT-S

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The Misbehaving Student…and How to Help Them

It is the most difficult children who often need us the most.  We hear from people working in schools that consequences and suspensions do not seem to change their behavior.  Core curriculum, testing and other requirements are putting an incredible burden on teachers. These challenging students are often the tipping point for a class.

What these misbehaving children are really looking for is to feel like they belong in the class, and that they are cared about.

Many of the misbehaving children have had things happen in their young lives that cause them to distrust others.  They may not have been fed or had their physical needs taken care of as babies, so they do not understand “if-then” thinking – if I cry, I get fed.  If I act out in class, then there are consequences. Some may be dealing with abuse or neglect of them or a parent, drugs or alcohol in the home, or violence.  They may feel they always have to be “on guard”, to protect themselves. 

All it takes is one adult to make a difference a child’s life.

So what can be done to help?  Here are some ways to build relationships with these most difficult children:

  • Get to where you can speak face to face with them.   Speak calmly and slowly. If you remain calm, it will help them to calm down.
  • Express an understanding of how they are feeling, saying “It seems like you are really angry.  Tell me more.” And then listen.
  • Ask them what you can do to help them.  They may need a break from being in the class, so asking if they would like to bring something to the office or another class may help.
  • Focus on building the relationship.  As trust is built, they may question it, as they may not have had a trusting relationship with an adult before. 

It is important to have patience and give it time.  These children likely have had years of bad relationships with adults.  As the relationship builds, the whole class benefits. There will be less disruptions, and more teachable time.  You can be that “one adult” for this child!

Written by: Carol Dores

Carol is a Certified Positive Discipline Trainer. She has worked with educators and staff of preschoolers through high school, as well as hundreds of parents of all aged children (prenatal to adult). She co-founded Positive Discipline of Connecticut, and served as Co-Chair of the international Board of Directors of the Positive Discipline Association. Carol has worked with schools in bringing Positive Discipline to whole school settings. She has two adult sons and a husband of over 35 years. Their relationships continue to grow and benefit from Positive Discipline.

Beating Test Taking Jitters

Having worked in Austin Independent School District schools for several years prior to entering private practice, I always think about state testing as we enter April. I remember the increased level of anxious tension that seemed to rise in everyone – students, teachers, and administration alike – as test day approached. I remember teens coming into my office with stomachaches, headaches, and deep senses of self-doubt. Administration seemed to run around a bit more frantic and fragile.

By: Christel Gilbreath, LCSW

By: Christel Gilbreath, LCSW

How I wish the measurement of students’ success was in how excited they were about learning, how much they talked about what they learned outside of class, and how engaged they were in the classroom. I wish teachers were measured by the enthusiasm, dedication, and creativity with which they taught.

Nevertheless, we are in an age where tests matter. That being said, I thought I might offer a few suggestions if your children are experiencing an increased level of anxiety related to test taking this spring.

  1. Teach and encourage the use of relaxation techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or imagery. For example, you can teach your younger children to fill up their belly with air like a balloon and blow out slowly or you can have them take a few deep breaths through a straw to help simulate what it’s like to slow down your breath.
  1. Use technology for your children’s’ benefit. Smiling Mind is a helpful phone app to guide meditation exercises. You can designate the users age to find appropriate relaxation and mindfulness techniques for child.
  1. Encourage your child to exercise on the days leading up to the test and eat a balanced meal on test morning – one without a lot of sugar or caffeine. (Make sure to look for hidden sugar in cereals and yogurt)
  1. Get creative with positive self-talk and encouragement. Try putting up Post-It notes around your house with little reminders of how you believe in your child’s ability to succeed. You can also help them make some themselves to encourage positive self-talk. They might say, “I know you’ve got this test down.” “Your hard work is going to pay off.” “You will be calm and relaxed during your test.” “My hard work is going to pay off when I take this test.”
  1. Make sure to reinforce to your child that your love is unconditional. Assure them that your love for them is not dependent on academic or test performance. Remind them that you love them simply because of who they are and that they are yours. Let your actions reflect this as well as your words.
  1. Practice what you preach. If you want your child to attack life’s stressors with a calm mind, then model this for them as well. Let them see you managing your stress with mindfulness techniques, exercise, positive self-talk, etc.


Happy Testing Season!