Is your child worried about NAPLAN? Here’s how you can beat NAPLAN jitters

NAPLAN can be an anxious time for some children. Dr Helen Schiele offers tips and advice on reassuring and supporting them.

During March, schools will undertake the NAPLAN national test over two weeks. This diagnostic tool is a part of a school’s assessment schedule and is used to ascertain where your child is regarding the Achievement Standards of the curriculum. The results of the test help identify your child’s learning abilities, and allow opportunity to strengthen any learning gaps.

Why the language we use is important

Children in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will sit several tests in literacy and numeracy. NAPLAN should be seen as just another test your child will encounter as they move through their learning journey.

For some children though, especially those in Year 3, this will be their first experience of sitting a test that sees them operate in a’ performance mode’. This mode is where your child will see the test as one where they have to impress, where a mistake will seem like the biggest thing in the world, and where feedback given may be taken personally. As parents, our role is to ensure that, in encountering a NAPLAN test, this becomes a normalised situation in their life.

The language we use with our children is essential in creating self-assurance in approaching this testing schedule. Your child must know that you will remain incredibly proud of them no matter the test results, as long as they try their best and can draw upon a series of strategies to help them manage the testing space. A test should be seen as a celebration of what your child knows and understands, and how they can demonstrate their thinking.

NAPLAN is a demonstration of this knowledge. The mindset needs to be one of, ‘I tried my best’, ‘This is what I knew and understood on that day’, and ‘With each and every day, I will learn more, and I will be able to do more’.

Tips for kids doing NAPLAN

During NAPLAN, your child’s learning environment will be different. Tests will be timed, there will be no collaboration, no brainstorming with peers, and no asking for clarification. In talking with your child, discuss how their classroom will look different on the day and what they can do when they can’t ask the teacher for help. What can they do to help themself to work out what to do?

  • Rereading the question – read on, read back.
  • Read the whole question before answering.
  • Take a breath.
  • Take a sip of water.
  • Pause, and take a minute or two to remember what this looked and sounded like in your classroom.
  • What did the teacher say about this?
  • When writing a persuasive piece, what language and words can I use to help me make my argument sound better?
  • List five positive and five negative points about my argument that can help me to order my thinking.
  • For those completing the test online, read the question in full before moving on to the next question and think about your typing and digital technology skills.
  • Once you have completed a written answer – become an editor of your work. Does it read well? Have you checked your spelling? Is your work grammatically correct? Have you correctly punctuated your work?

Finally, our children should remember that this is a test about their abilities on one day, and not who they are as a person. They should be positive, celebrating themselves as the creative, dynamic learners that they are, be it in music, sports or the arts – and have fun with learning.

About the author

Dr Helen Schiele is a Principal Consultant and Senior Early Childhood Specialist at Independent Schools Victoria.

This is an updated version of Helen’s article from May 2021.

You can also find information for parents and carers on the NAPLAN website.

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