By Dr. Stacie Bunning, clinical psychologist
How can I help my fifth-grader overcome "spelling test anxiety?" When we review the words at home (verbally and written) he spells them all correctly. At school, over 50% are wrong. In all other subjects, (math etc.) he does excellent work.
It is fairly common for children to learn their spelling words before a test and then somehow "lose" the words when they take the real test. A situation like this can lead to frustration for the student, as well as his parents. When it happens repeatedly, the frustration can turn into anxiety, as the child starts to dread the test and his parents' reactions to a poor grade. It can get to the point where simply hearing the words "spelling test" can cause a child to panic and freeze. Rest assured that test anxiety is usually temporary and can be managed with a few simple strategies.
Three tactics are needed for anyone to succeed on a test: preparation, organization, and practice.
An e-mail or a phone call to his teacher can give you more information about the types of errors your son is making and what the teacher thinks may be happening on the tests. Find out how the test is administered, and in what time frame. Perhaps your son needs more time; he may be rushing through the test, and he may be forgetting to proofread his work before turning it in. Also, if you know more about the teacher's testing style, you can mimic those conditions at home when your son is practicing his spelling words. Be sure to share with the teacher the fact that your son spells the words correctly at home, and ask about alternative testing strategies.
Is your son overwhelmed in other areas of his life, besides his spelling tests? Fifth-graders are given greater responsibility, more assignments and bigger tasks in preparation for middle school. Children who are used to doing well in school often have a hard time with this, because study skills that were effective in the lower grades may not be sufficient now. For example, reviewing and practicing spelling words the night before a test may have been all he needed to do in second-, third- and fourth-grade, but from this point on, he may need to do it for three or four nights in a row.
Ask yourself if your son might be participating in too many extracurricular activities. In today's fast-paced society, many children are overloaded on activities, leaving too little "down time," and little energy left for studying.
If these strategies don't help and your son's anxiety continues, or if it begins to interfere with other areas of his life, he might benefit from a few sessions with a qualified therapist. Ask for help from the school counselor or your pediatrician.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
Tell us for a chance to win one of two $150 Amazon gift cards! Your input will help us better serve parents like you. The survey will only take a few minutes.
Sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you
more just like it every week.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.