Each year, students in years 3, 5, 7, and 9 sit NAPLAN tests. NAPLAN stands for National Assessment Program: Literacy and Numeracy. This testing regime helps the Australian government gather data for research on how schools and students, in general, are performing.
Despite the Government trying to emphasise that the results are not qualifications and don’t affect children’s future options, increasingly more and more youngsters in Australia are feeling the pressure of these assessments.
So how can we as parents help ensure that these assessments don’t place undue stress and anxiety on them?
Keep a good routine
In the build-up to the NAPLAN tests make sure that your child is eating well, sleeping well, drinking lots of water and keeping active. This will reduce stress and aid concentration. It is also important that your child doesn’t work too hard and ‘burn out.’
Avoid side-lining their extra-circular activities in favour of extra teaching or revision of the NAPLAN curriculum. Hobbies, such as playing a musical instrument, attending a dance class or playing for a football team, can be great for stress relief.
Use targeted revision
Every parent is encouraged to support their children’s learning throughout the year, preparation for NAPLAN tests itself can be key to reducing anxiety. Help your child plan their revision time effectively and work through practice test papers at home together. This will not only help cement their learning but will also help you to understand the types of questions that might be asked.
Spending time practising how to answer questions (using marking schemes as reference) can also be key, as often it is more than just straightforward subject knowledge that NAPLAN examiners are looking for.
To structure revision, teachers often offer NAPLAN classes outside the classroom and some parents may also choose to send their child to a private tutor. Tutors can play an important role in preparing children for NAPLAN as outlined by one of the tutors registered with Superprof.
By talking to your child about the upcoming exams, and therefore normalising them, you will help reduce their fear of the unknown. However, bear in mind not to place too much importance on the actual results; children’s desire to make their parents proud can often be the cause of their anxiety and impact their mental health overall.
You should also keep in regular contact with their teacher to make sure they're picking up the necessary skills for their level and not getting overwhelmed in the classroom.
If you see any sudden behavioural changes in your child and become concerned over their general well-being, try to speak to them as openly about it as possible. Headspace offers a student toolkit to help students take care of themselves through exam stress and balance their mental health needs with strong academic performance. The app discounted to just $9.99 per year for students. This can be accessed online through your internet browser or through the Headspace app.
“Just do your best”
Whether in primary or secondary school, children need our reassurance and encouragement to feel proud of themselves and what they have achieved during their education.
If you can help your child to foster the mind-set that these tests are an opportunity to challenge themselves, learn how to study effectively and demonstrate their learning, it is also great preparation for HSC, VCE exams or any other high school or university entrance test.