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5 no-fuss ways to deal with NAPLAN

Love it or hate NAPLAN is happening again this year and at the heart of it are the students. NAPLAN has become a high-stakes test and the pressure on our students and teachers seems to grow every year.

If your child is sitting for the test this year you may be feeling anxiety about the test and the test results.

As a parent how can you manage your child’s NAPLAN experience in a way that does not impact negatively on self esteem and confidence and or create anxiety around exams? Really the key is to minimise the fuss surrounding NAPLAN. Here are few tips.

How to deal with NAPLAN to minimise fuss

1. Their best effort is everything

Don’t discuss your expectations with your child or make a big deal about the results. Minimise the whole situation by reminding your child that you just want their best effort and you will be proud of them regardless of the results.

Remember the way you handle this will have a flow on effect for every test or assessment in the future.

2. Have a neutral reaction when you receive results

When you do receive the results in August or September, take the time to view them when your child is not around so you can really digest them.

Of course if your child has performed below what you’d normally expect you might be concerned but sharing this with your child is unlikely to helpful in any way. Instead set up a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss the results.

Remember the results are really for adults and in particular teachers so you don’t need to discuss specifics with your child. In fact, if they don’t ask don’t even mention it and if they ask focus on effort and respond with something casual like, “Oh yes, you did well, I can see you put in a big effort”.

Or if you prefer choose a time when you are relaxed to have the conversation. Don’t make it formal, perhaps while getting dinner ready say something like, “Hey buddy, I saw your NAPLAN results and I’m really happy with your effort. Avoid going into specifics about bands or subject areas if you can, just assure them that you are happy with the results and leave it at that or be really general if possible.

3. Don’t discuss results with other parents

This is particularly important if your child is in earshot. Ask yourself why other parents want to know about your child’s results? Usually they just to make comparisons.

If asked your best response is; “We are happy with the results, there were no surprises”. Leave it at that. Don’t get into specifics because you certainly don’t want your child’s data to be a source of school gossip and you really don’t want it to be repeated to your child’s especially if it’s coming from their peers.

4. Focus on the whole child

We often unintentionally give children the message that numeracy and literacy are more important than other subject areas so even when they have a talent in another area they may still feel inadequate.

Don’t let the test results shatter your child’s self esteem and confidence if they didn’t perform to your expectation. This is one test assessing two learning areas. It doesn’t test social skills, creative thinking or problem solving, it won’t demonstrate their flair for art or music or sport.

Poor performance doesn’t mean they are a failure it means they may need to consolidate their learning in some areas that’s all. Try to boost your child’s self esteem by focus on their unique strengths.

5. Avoid comparisons with siblings

This is particularly important for twins or multiples, comparing siblings will only create rivalry or make on child feel superior or inferior. Again if you can keep family discussions about the results minimal and avoid specifics it can really help in this area.

What to do if you’re concerned about the results

Remember NAPLAN is a snapshot of your child’s progress in literacy and numeracy, it is one test on one day so to speak, so keep it in perspective.

If you know how your child is progressing at school and you have good communication with your child’s teacher then you really shouldn’t be overly surprised by the results.

But if you are concerned then consult your child’s teacher to discuss your concerns.

Consider these questions also:

  • Was your child at their best that day? We all under perform if we are sick, tired, nervous or overwhelmed.
  • What was the lead up to NAPLAN like at your child’s school? Was it stressful? Could this have contributed to nerves and therefore poor performance?
  • Does your child become anxious under exam conditions? Or is this the first time they have had a test of this nature?
  • Did they perform poorly in one area or several areas?
  • Is your child’s teacher shocked by the results? Are they generally happy with your child’s progress or do they have concerns too?

Once you have consulted your child’s teacher you may conclude that you child needs help in several areas or one area or perhaps they just need some strategies to deal with sitting exams.

  • Ask how the school can support your child’s learning and make a plan to move forward.
  • Find out how you can support your child’s learning.
  • Organise a follow-up meeting so you can monitor you child’s progress, it helps keep everyone involved accountable for any commitment made to support your child’s learning.

Finally, your child is more than a result on a piece of paper, of course we want our child to do well at school, we want them to have every opportunity but we also want them to be a happy, healthy
and well adjusted.

Academic performance isn’t everything, Sir Richard Branson dropped out of high school, Jamie Oliver struggled with reading due to dyslexia and Bill Gates dropped out of college! There are many pathways in life, don’t pigeonhole your child based on one test.

About Karen Seinor

Karen Seinor is the author of Is My Child Ready For School and has been passionate educator for over 17 years. She has worked as both a classroom teacher and an ESL teacher and while she has enjoyed her many roles as ...

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