Stress-free testing? Yeah right, you say! The words "stress and standardized testing" go together like "peanut butter and jelly." Reducing stress during testing time is not about attempting to create a stress-free environment. It is about helping students lessen the extra anxieties that aren't helpful for testing, and showing them that some stress can be useful in helping us to perform up to our potential. Here are a few of my personal favorite stress reducing tips that seem almost too simple, but work wonders, for both you and your students!

Create a Positive Environment

Sound simple? It is! You have filled your students with knowledge and confidence all year, and now is their chance to show what they know. You'll be amazed at what a warm smile on your face and a reassuring glance of confidence can do for your students...as well as yourself! When they see that you have a positive attitude about their abilities, they can see it too.

Make It Special

We all remember how good it felt as a child to get a sticker from the teacher, or an award from a coach. It's no different for your students! As you are preparing your materials for the students, take that one extra step to make it special. Type up a quick note of encouragement and print it on the top of a scratch paper, or slip it in with their pencils. As each student sees those few words expressing how proud you are, their focus will slip further away from the stress of performing well, and instead to the knowledge that you believe in them.

Encourage Healthy Habits

This one goes back as far as testing itself! As you point out the need for a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast, show your students that it's more than just words. Even before testing begins, turn it into a game of "who got the most sleep" or "who brought the healthiest snack," and include yourself! When your students see you pulling a baggie of vegetables or a hard boiled egg out of your lunch bag, they will believe in it more than if they just hear the words.

Involve Parents

Taking the time to communicate the testing schedule with parents may seem like an extra stress now, but it can help you to feel that as the testing approaches, you are not in it alone. You can even communicate your ideas to help reduce stress in the classroom and encourage the parents to do the same at home.

Read a Children's Book

There are many books out there written with the intent of teaching self-confidence, among plenty of other life lessons. Your students can relax just a bit more as they begin to realize that these books are so popular because students all over the world feel the exact same way they do! One of my personal favorites is Hooray for Diffendoofer Day. I mean come on...an entire book dedicated to test taking and stress? Thank you, Dr. Seuss!