“Great! Now this stupid test that I didn’t want to take and I’m probably failing anyway just ruined the beautiful book I’m reading! I had no idea that Darcy and Elizabeth ended up together! How on Earth can they spoil amazing pieces of literature for kids like me and live with themselves?”
“Molly, I’m pretty sure that question isn’t written for kids like you, and as you’re an eleven year old who is reading Pride and Prejudice for fun, I’m also reasonable confident that you are not failing this test.”
Note: Affordable Homeschool Testing Services provided us with testing services and compensated us for our time. Remember though, we only take on partners we believe in and whom we feel would be a great fit for our readers.
Perfectionism, anxiety, and giftedness are kind of a perfect storm when it comes to testing kids, and a few weeks ago, when all four of my kids were completing their standardized testing through Affordable Homeschool Testing Services, I just wanted to run away from home to a nice warm island where kids aren’t allowed and margaritas flow freely.
The truth is that a few months ago, my oldest kiddo asked me if I’d test him this year. He told me that he didn’t think he was as smart as I say he is. Ironic as he’s the only kid I DO have testing data for and know his IQ, along with several other “things” about him that have been proven by outside testing. But, we’re all about being child-led here, so I jumped on the chance to try out AHTS with the kiddos — because if I was testing one, I might as well test them all.
The process itself was pretty seamless.
On the day of the testing — reading is one day and math is another — you call the number that was provided to you at registration. Your proctor gets you the day’s password and you login into the portal using that password. Once your kiddo is logged in, you wait for the proctor to notice and start the test.
The tests are untimed, so your kiddos can take breaks if they need to and stretch their legs between questions. And, if they’re anything like mine, they’ll need to.
Perfectionism rears its head in times like this, and one never know exactly how it will manifest.
I’ll admit that I was a bit taken aback at the reactions to testing from my children. Each of them reacted in incredibly different, though equally intense, ways.
My youngest zipped through much of the testing, asking silly questions I was not allowed to answer, and dancing away at regular intervals, then darting back to the table to tackle a few more problems. Inexplicably, despite this seeming distraction, he scored well above his age, and confirmed to us that the little stealth learner actually can read well and with great comprehension.
The nine year old sweetheart struggles with anxiety, sensory processing disorder, impulsivity, and loads and loads of distractibility. I was really concerned about how she’d do. Midway through her testing, she called out to me that her test had paused, and almost immediately my phone rang. It was Ellen, the sweet proctor and owner of AHTS, letting me know that the system flagged Logan’s test, so she shut it down to check in. It appeared that she was rapid-fire guessing, and so the system wanted to be sure that the test would be valid.
When I asked her about it, she hung her head and admitted that she just wanted it to be over. So, I gave her a pep talk, a new fidget, and a hug, then let Ellen know to restart the test. The test that she — learning disabilities and all — scored well above grade level on when all was said and done.
My eleven year old hasn’t shown me much anxiety, at least not in the way that I usually see anxiety in the family, so I was really taken aback with her reaction to testing. She tends to tackle new challenges with eager drive, and so to find her completely beside herself for over a week leading up to these tests blindsided me. She can be perfectionistic (I’m so, so sorry, Honey. You got that from your mama.) and that drive to be perfect, with anything less than perfection being seen as some personality flaw, totally stalled her. She struggled to get started on test day, and she struggled to finish. She agonized over every answer, lamented over anything that didn’t come easily, and was convinced she’d end up being labeled as a total failure — especially in math, her weakest subject.
And that kiddo who started this whole ball rolling in the first place? The sixteen year old took over three hours to complete the math portion of the test — normally expected to take about 55-75 minutes. Why? Well, he told me that everyone expects him to be “the math kid” and he was terrified of scoring low. He solved every problem at least three times. Every. Problem. Three. Times.
Will I test the kids again even though I’m not required to based on our state’s homeschool requirements?
But not right away.
Here’s the thing… my kids will have to take standardized tests in their lifetime. I’d rather it become something that they see as just another task to check off, and not the end all be all. I’d rather they get their nerves out now while it doesn’t really count instead of freezing up and becoming paralyzed by perfectionism when they’re sitting for the ACT or SAT and want to get into a particular school.
What do you think? Are you looking for ways to ease your kiddo’s perfectionism and anxiety over testing before it becomes a real problem? Or, do you need to test as part of your state’s homeschooling requirements? If so, you should seriously consider signing your kids up for the NWEA MAP Growth Testing Services as part of Affordable Homeschool Testing Services offerings. It’s an easy process, untimed, and your kids can take the test right at home using their computer or tablet. I had kids on a desktop, chromebooks, and an iPad. All worked equally well.
And that super smart eleven year old reader did not fail the test. She went on to finish reading — and enjoy — Pride and Prejudice, and is now happily snuggled up with me in the evening watching Colin Firth play Mr. Darcy on Amazon Prime. Her life wasn’t ruined after all.
Well, until perfectionism takes hold again…