The National Assessment Program- Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests are held in Queensland schools each May. The purpose of these tests is to assess the literacy and numeracy skills of Australian students in grades 3,5,7, and 9. In 2018 Naplan began the transition to online testing, which when fully implemented, will allow students to answer questions tailored to their ability resulting in better assessment and more precise results.
If you have children in those grades you may have attended an information session at your school discussing NAPLAN testing and how the results are applied Australia wide. Your children may have had a chance to do practice tests at their schools so that they know what to expect and are familiar with the format of the tests. If not you can access some practice questions on the National Assessment Program website on http://www.nap.edu.au. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the test format so you can answer any questions your child may have or check out What you need to know about NAPLAN resource.
What is your child’s personality?
Your child’s personality is important in predicting how they will cope with NAPLAN testing. If they are predominately of a relaxed nature and can easily cope with new things then they are likely to take it in their stride. However, if your child is a little anxious and does not like change then this may be a potentially stressful time for them. As parents you need to be clear that they are only expected to do their best on the day and that the sun will still rise the next day even if they feel they didn’t perform at their best. For a young grade 3 student the stress may revolve around the fact that they may not have been used to undergoing a lot of testing, let alone 3 days of it. For an older grade 9 student the stress may be self imposed as they try to achieve the best result possible.
Signs of NAPLAN Stress
Signs of stress in children include changes in behaviour. For example, trouble sleeping, early waking or nightmares. Some children isolate themselves from their parents or friends. Some children are not mature enough to verbalise their stress and instead internalize it and feel it physically eg. abdominal or chest pain. Some children are introverted by nature and may display more ‘negative talk’ telling themselves that they are ‘not good enough’ or are ‘going to fail’. Children of any age may complain about school and display school avoidance behaviour such as complaining about attending school or coming up with reasons not to go to school. Stress makes you tired and tired children may exhibit more tantrums or poor behaviour.
So what can you do to help your child?
By being proactive and watching for signs of stress in your child you can act before the stress becomes worse. Encourage your child to talk to you about what may be worrying them. For example, asking them to tell you the ‘best part of their day’ and ‘something they would like to change about their day, or something that was not good about their day’. This is a great daily routine to get into because it keeps the lines of communication open.
Empower yourself with knowledge about NAPLAN testing so when your child asks you about it you can calmly talk to them about it.
- Talk to the teachers or guidance counselors at your child’s school and ask them whether your child’s behaviour has changed at school as well. Arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher or school counselor to discuss ways in which you can help your child.
- Most importantly ensure that your child is well rested, is eating nutritious meals and enjoys physical activity. Sleep deprivation reduces your energy levels and makes you more irritable. Studies have shown that physical activity is a great way to reduce stress levels. Children need independent, relaxed outdoor play when they can be themselves.
- The week of NAPLAN testing ensure your child gets adequate sleep, nourishing food and has some relaxing outdoor play after school. Remember, they have been sitting at a desk concentrating hard all day.
If you are concerned about your child see your family GP. They can discuss other strategies that may help your child and discuss referral to a child psychologist if necessary. If your child has physical symptoms also see your GP to rule out disease first before putting the symptoms down to stress.