It happens every year. The posts on Facebook start. “My kid is stressed out by the standardized tests tomorrow!’ ‘My daughter is crying because she is scared of her standardized tests!’ It is horrible that this much pressure is put on kids as young as 8 years old. I have been through it with my daughter, and, this year, have two daughters taking them. My oldest went through the tears and fears and I did not like it one bit, even considering opting out. But I have read and researched and I think come up with a way to still have my kids take the test but with a lot less stress. So here are my amateur tips on How to Talk to Kids About Standardized Tests.

How to Talk to Kids About Standardized Tests starts with telling the truth

Tell them the truth

The first year my daughter took the STAAR test in Texas, she freaked out. Tears, upset stomach, and so on. It broke my heart. So I read up, talked to other moms and used that information to tell her the truth. Now, my district may be different than yours, but we can sure take the pressure off by knowing the facts.

I told her that how she does on the test makes no difference to me at all. The the only reason they give it is to get funding for their school. That her teacher, the administration and any work that needs to be done on the school comes mainly from government funding and that these tests are to make sure the adults are doing their jobs. In our district, is it very hard to be held back because of the results. I know a child who scored in the 40’s on both sections and still went on to the next grade. I know kids who consistently ‘fail’ them and are ’rounded’ up to passing based on the curve. So, for me, anyway, it is not a concern that my child will be held back or miss out on anything because of her individual results.

This, alone, brought a visible reaction of relief to my daughter!

Tell them that tests do not measure intelligence

How to Talk to Kids About Standardized Tests and other tips!

Katie struggled in 3rd and 4th grade in math. It is why I got, and still have, a tutor that comes to the house once a week. While all of my girls are doing well in math now, it helps to continue help from a different perspective. When the standardized math portion came up, Katie was quick to tell me that she was not smart enough to pass and she started to tear up. I was quick to tell her that these test, IN NO WAY AT ALL, measure intelligence. I told her that ‘standardized’ means that they are just seeing where the school is in teaching the kids the ‘standard’ information required. That no one’s intelligence is ‘standard’ and that she should derive no value of her ‘smartness’ from the results.


Kids need to know that they are smart and intelligent in all kinds of areas. They may be weak in math but amazing at writing. They may not be great at tests but can plan and execute a basketball drive like a pro. NO child is standard. They ALL have intelligence that can’t be measure by a scan tron sheet. They need to know that!

Listen to them

Because I really couldn’t care less on how my kids do on these tests, I tend to brush off comments my kids make about them. I really have to make an effort to listen to their concerns all the way through. So when my kids start talking about their fears, I sit down at the kitchen table with them and really listen. My middle daughter is showing no care at all for the test, which she takes next week. It may be because she has heard me preach to my oldest about them, but she just does not seem to care. However, she did start to make comments about how she would miss recess and have the hours and hours of testing that is involved. Come to find out, through listening, that she was worried she would not be able to go to the bathroom or get a snack because the tests were so long. The length of the standardized tests was her worry. So we talked it through and now she is all good. But I would not have even considered this an issue if I had not listened!

Make standardized tests days ‘special’

How to Talk to Kids About Standardized Tests and to make them ok

My kids very, very rarely get to watch TV during the school week. It just makes our lives so much better not to have the distraction. But they know that on standardized test days, they get to come home and watch TV. We order pizza, play with the dogs, watch a show and just relax. I don’t even take them to their after school activities. They think this is very special and gives them something to look forward to after a long day of testing! So, instead of worrying about the test, they debate on which show they get to watch!

We can hope and pray all day long that standardized testing goes away. But the truth is, they probably won’t. I took them as a kid, my kids are taking them and their kids will probably take them too. By helping to take the stress off these kids that are having to shoulder it all, they can perform better and get through the days easier!

What tips would you add to this list?