Test Anxiety

As we were riding bikes yesterday, Zach caught up with me to ask, “Do we have to take any tests this year?”

“No, sweetie.  Why would we take a test?”

“Well, we have to take them in third grade, right?”

Zach had heard when he was in kindergarten that third graders start taking tests. I guess he doesn’t buy into the biblical wisdom -

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

- because he has been worrying about tests ever since.

“No, buddy, we don’t have to take tests next year either.”

“We don’t?!”

“No.  You never have to take a test in homeschool.”

“Woohoo!  I’m gonna homeschool forever!”  Then he slowed down until Ezra caught up with us and shared the good news.  “Ez, did you know there are no tests in homeschool? We’re NEVER going back to school.”

So what do you think?  I loved tests, and they were the only reasons I ever studied anything.  And if they go to college, they’ll need to take tests.  Do you need to practice? I know some homeschoolers give tests, but I wasn’t planning on it.  Bad idea?

Finally, do you think it’s wrong if I now use his fear to scare Zach into obedience? I could threaten that if he can’t sit still during my three minute history reading then he’s going to have to go back to anxiety-producing, test-giving public school.  Bad idea?

  • Syndi

    Are you sure you do not have to test in MA? I read elsewhere that MA has one of the toughest requirements for homeschoolers, and it may include testing….

  • http://www.talesofatvaholic.com Shannah

    I think he should practice before he goes back to school but maybe not right this second. What if you set it up so he does not even know he is taking a test and is then wildly successful! Ask him a bunch of questions out loud he knows the answer to and when he get's them right say "you just took a test and you got a perfect score"! Do this until he starts to love tests. Then ease him in to something more formal. Timing TBD depending on how long you home school.

    Note: I have started reading Teach Like a Champion but I am only on technique number 2 so you may not want to take teaching advice from me :)

  • Margaret

    Tara, I've been following and enjoying your blog.

    My initial reaction is yes, bad…they need to have experience at some point in taking tests for the time if/when they are back in public school or college. My girls went to a Montessori public school that did not give tests. I helped proctor the first year they had to take the State mandated proficiency tests (3rd grade). The teacher and I had to watch as some kids cried and pleaded for help (there were strict rules about what we could/could not say or help with). They were so stressed out by being timed to answer questions about things they knew about but in a totally different form than they were used to seeing them presented. Some were okay, some weren't but after that year they did some tests just for practice.

    I like Shannah's idea. There is enough anxiety from just knowing answers on tests. Adding anxiety because tests are unknown, or a punishment I don't think is helpful. Helping them learn to take tests, SAT's, GRE's, etc. so that they can just show "showoff?" their knowledge would be good. They may never love tests, but helping them to not be afraid of them would be a good thing.

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