Is your child worried about NAPLAN? 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.

In the month of March, schools will undertake the NAPLAN national test over two weeks. This diagnostic tool is a part of a school’s assessment schedule and as such is used to ascertain where your child is in regards to the Achievement Standards of the curriculum. Ensuring that your child’s learning abilities and stretches are identified in being strengthening and in the narrowing of any learning gaps.

Why the language we use is so important

Children in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will sit a number of tests in the areas of literacy and numeracy. This needs to be seen as just another test that will be presented to your child as they move through their learning journey. This is one test held on one day, every two years.

For some children though, especially those in Year 3, this will be their first lived 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 that this becomes a normalised situation in their life. 

The language we use with our children is important in creating a self-assurance in approaching this testing schedule. It’s important your child knows that you will remain incredibly proud of them no matter the test results, as long as they tried their best, and they were able to draw upon a series of strategies to help them manage the testing space. For a test should be seen as a celebration of what your child knows, 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 is no collaboration, there is no brainstorming with peers, there is no asking for clarification. In talking with your child, discuss how their classroom will look different on the day, 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
  • Reading 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 like and sounded like in your classroom.
  • What did the teacher say about this?
  • When writing a persuasive piece, what language, what 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 competing the test online – make sure you read the question in full before moving onto 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 a 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 early years 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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