Now that the new school year is under way, there's a revival in the conversation around Common Core, the standardized tests given to third- through eight-graders.
Ongoing discussion continues regarding whether these tests are accurate measurements of teacher competence and the tests are also being blamed for creating anxiety in some of the kids taking the tests.
So the bad news here is that I have no inside information on what education leaders will do regarding the tests. But I do know something about the anxiety people are feeling about these tests.
First let me say that if you are someone who believes Common Core needs to go so that you and/or your child can feel less anxious, then hopefully what's below will change your mind. As the parent/teacher/adult here, you're sitting on a pile of power -- power you can direct in ways that will benefit your kids.
You can start by letting go of the "Common Core's gotta go" mindset and develop one that says, "I've got this!" Consider the following ideas to help you get that ball rolling and help your kids relax when it comes to Common Core (or anything for that matter!):
- The tests cannot create anxiety.
- Tests are words written on pieces of paper (or maybe a computer screen).
- It's what you think about the tests that causes anxiety.
- Like any emotion, anxiety is contagious.
- If you are feeling anxious about the tests, then you are sharing your anxiety with everyone around you... including your kids.
- Change how you think about the tests.
- Don't allow yourself to be persuaded by negative information related to the tests - things written or spoken on television, in newspapers, magazines, online, in conversation.
- Put a positive spin on the tests. Whether or not you believe the tests are good for education, the fact is that they are intended to be helpful. Whenever you think about the tests, think about how the people who created Common Core really want to help kids and improve education. Keep your spin positive and steer clear of the rest.
- Definitely share your positive spin with your kids.
- Avoid Common Core gossip.
- Downplay the tests. Tests are a part of school and life. No big deal!
Believe me, as the mother of three, I've passed my share of anxiety onto my kids. It never helped my family or the situation we were tied up in knots about. There are so many good-feeling emotions we could feel instead. Create those for yourself and share them with your kids.
So the Common Core process doesn't make a lot of sense to us parents. We can't see the connection between the tests and how they make anything better in our kids' schools. So what? Schools have our kids for about thirteen years. We have them for a lifetime! Have fun creating a mindset that will help you and your kids get past this testing hurdle.
I guarantee your new mindset will help you and your family better deal with future challenges. And as a bonus, you get to feel awesome about yourself for showing your kids how building resilience is done.