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Staying Mindful on Standardized Test Days

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Standardized tests are a part of many children’s lives. The hours leading up to these tests can be stressful and frightening for students. The following tips will equip students with tools to clear their mind and focus their thoughts so they can be calm and confident on test day.

Warm up the body with physical movement.

Moving your body with rhythm and repetition helps the body wake up, get the blood flowing, and helps clear the mind so you can focus. Simple movements like Moving Breath are effective full body stretches that students can do next to their desk.

Take deep breaths.

When we feel stressed, our breathing can change to become more rapid and shallow so that we’re not taking in as much air as we need. When students feel stressed or anxious, they can change the way they feel by changing the way they breathe. Remind them to breathe with Belly Breaths or Alternate Nostril Breath to help stay calm and focused. 

Here are some general tips when teaching breathing:

  • Take slow, steady breaths 
  • Relax your stomach, and notice your stomach rise on each inhale, and fall on each exhale. 
  • Lead students in breathing techniques before they have to focus. Help them develop this healthy habit. 

Develop a positive motto. 

It’s easy to let negative thoughts flood in, especially when students are worried about a high-stakes test. Teach students how to develop a positive motto to help them change their inner voice. Help them recognize their worries, doubts, and fears and invite them to notice them. Everyone experiences fear and self doubt. However, you can often overcome your fear and doubt by talking to yourself in a positive way. This is called positive self-talk. A positive motto helps students develop a positive way of talking to themselves. 

Here are types of positive self-talk to help students develop their own positive motto. 

  • Encouragement: “I can do this. I am prepared and ready to do well!”
  • Gratitude: “I am grateful for my family, teachers, and smart brain that will help me succeed.”
  • Affirmations: “I am smart. I am prepared. I am capable.”
  • Rational thinking: “This situation is not as bad as I think it is. I can handle it.”

Teaching students these mindfulness tools will help students regulate their emotions, and start to believe in themselves, which will help them achieve a healthy attitude about challenging high-stakes tests.