Exams & Testing - Anxiety & Stress

Anxiety & Stress

School Exams & Testing

Standarised testing in primary schools has become an increasingly present topic of discussion in my intervention sessions with children. Unfortunately, it is never positive and often identified as a trigger for anxiety, increased melt-downs and feelings of shame, frustration & embarrassment.

Most of these children experiencing these emotions struggle with handwriting and/or literacy and/or numeracy & are receiving learning support in school. Aren't the children who are struggling in these areas a big reason why these standarised assessments are done? In order to measure improvements or regressions & plan around their specific learning?

When did this become a competition, another comparison amongst children who are still forming their self-awareness, identity and self-esteem?

Most children also seem aware of the scoring criteria for STens and what a 2 or 8 means for their learning. I don't know if this information is given at home or school but to kid's it seems like they are being scored academically from 1-10 (and all they remember is that 10 is the best). I definitely believe that improvements in academic skills should be celebrated but instead of telling them a number- you need to make the praise more specific to a skill; 'Hey, you must have worked really hard on your reading cause that test showed that it has improved alot?'. Maybe your child has regressed in areas- why not ask them 'I can see that math was a little tricky at times this year, anything you found really hard that we could work on?' 

Increasingly the world the child and teenager lives is becoming standardised and uniform. Schools start implementing these standarised tests from an early age that place children on a continuum above and below the norm. The drive in educational practice is to bring all children to the norm. The drive in educational content is to feed the growing demands of industry.



Curricula are becoming more restricted and those children whose interest lies outside this narrow focus find themselves alienated from the mainstream. Children who have more specific strengths aren’t performing well because there are dips in their educational profile and the feeling can be- what is the point of getting a H1 in Honours Maths & Physics if you fail everything else.

Kid's who are struggling academically definitely need one section of their resource teaching dedicated to their interest or something they are good at- it might be designing powerpoints, organising folders, helping with the younger classes... Because who could feel positive about going somewhere everyday if it just leads to feelings of frustration, anxiety and low self-esteem.

As anxiety amongst children peaks and the learning styles & needs of the 'mainstream' classroom become more complex- how does the attitude to these standarised assessments need to evolve & more importantly- how is the purpose & results going to be communicated to children? 

Catherine Hallissey, Child Psychologist discusses the topic of Anxiety on my course which you can learn more about by clicking here

As an OT I focus on human potential and that the child in front of me can be actualised as an individual and not as a deviation to be normalised. 

Keep reading about other topics by exploring some of my other blog posts:

How to develop Pretend Play skills

What is Dyspraxia?

How does poor working memory affect a child?


CONTENT DISCLAIMER: Jessica Kennedy is a Certified Occupational Therapist. All information on the website is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for medical advice from your physician. Please consult with a medical professional if you suspect any medical or developmental issues with your child. Do not rely on the information on the website as an alternative to advice from your medical professional or healthcare provider. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment as a result of any information provided on the website. All medical information on the website is for informational purposes only. All activities outlined on the website are designed for completion with adult supervision. Please use your own judgment with your child and do not provide objects that could pose a choking hazard to young children. Never leave a child unattended during these activities. Please be aware of and follow all age recommendations on all products used in these activities. My OT & Me is not liable for any injury when replicating any of the activities found on this blog or website. 


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