Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Book Review: Helping Your Child Cope with SATs Stress

As a teacher, one question I was asked repeatedly, and indeed am still asked now by friends and acquaintances, is why is there such a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and/or Year 4 to Year 5?  There is only one answer: SATs.  Compulsory for primary school children in the UK, and the main means of assessment for children (as well as affecting teachers' pay and pay grade progression), these controversial tests can cause a lot of stress for young children, and their parents.  A new ebook seeks to offer parents advice on how to alleviate some of the stress, and how to work with their child to make the whole experience easier, more pleasant, and more successful in all senses.

The rights and wrongs of testing 6/7 and 10/11 year olds, making them feel inadequate, reducing them tears, and potentially casting them as failures for life are the topic of another post, perhaps.  But many parents are, thankfully, beginning to recognise the inadequacies of our education system, particularly its over-emphasis on stringent testing and prescribed results.  Unfortunately, a campaign by parents in May this year to get the government to recognise the stress and problems these tests create failed in the face of implacable Tory opposition.

More than 40,000 parents protested against the damaging culture of over-testing by signing a petition calling for a boycott of primary school tests, and lent their support to the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign.  A 'strike day' followed, with many children staying off school for the day instead of taking their tests, with events across the country and on social media to mark the occasion.  Then Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, accused parents of damaging their children's education, whilst our own local MP Nick Gibb (the recipient of much correspondence from Attachment Towers on a variety of subjects!) failed to correctly identify a subordinating conjunction (a question from a Y6 grammar test).

As always there was much wittering about how our education system, or rather its results, compares to that of other countries, with China invariably being heralded as the great benchmark.  Of course, what such comparisons fail to recognise is other factors such as child happiness, the age formal learning begins, testing processes, cultural differences and much more.  One might also question how continuing to do what we've done for a long time is going to improve those rankings/results.  To keep doing what you already do and expect a different outcome is, after all, the mark of stupidity.

Rather than learning from other education systems and actually talking to those at the coalface, the teachers themselves, our government (none of them former educators) has adopted a 'we know best' approach, backed up by the odious Ofsted system.  The chasm between educators and politicians is wider than ever, and unfortunately, it looks as though nothing is going to change with our testing system.  Essentially, all we can do is try to counter it by supporting our own children as much as possible, so all praise for Simon Smith's new ebook.

Recognising how much stress the Y6 tests cause children, already facing the prospect of a move to 'big school' and the onslaught of the hormonal teen rollercoaster, Smith offers parents a guide to helping their children relax, de-stress, and take the SATs in their stride.  Combining tips from experts such as child psychologists, as well as the children themselves, SATs Stress is a well-researched guide to helping children cope with the pressure they are under and the corresponding anxiety.

By treating the anxiety, fear and stress, children will be able to give their best under exam conditions, and maintain their mental health.  With a reported 55% of children worrying about the effect a poor performance will have on their future, anything that can help them keep calm is a bonus.  No child should suffer from psychological problems, psychosomatic health conditions, or contemplate suicide as the result of an educational test!

Do you need this book?  Ask yourself five questions:

Of course, communication is key to helping your child in all things, but do you know some of the other ways their anxiety might manifest?

Do you know how to help your chid to study for the tests, and conversely how to help him chill out in his downtime?

Have you taught your child how to deal with worry and anxiety?

Can you share mindfulness, relaxation, meditation or yoga techniques with your child?

Do you know what the best foods for your child to eat during this time are?

If the answer to any of these question is no, then this ebook is for you!

Presented in a straightforward and easily accessible format, with a wealth of resources and information, Helping Your Child Cope with SATs Stress is available from Amazon.  Download your copy now to help your child have their most successful school year, academically, physically and mentally.

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