It’s that time of year for schools around the country: standardized test season. No matter what we think about the validity or value of standardized tests, the fact is that kids all around the United States are gearing up to sit for hours on end staring a computer screen or test booklets during the school day. Good news! We have some tangible tips for teachers to help students combat test fatigue, anxiety, and stress, and have a happy and successful school day, despite the PARCC test!
Start the Day with Dance
There is no shortage of research that supports the need for dance and movement during the school day. This simple classroom activity will help your kids start the day in a healthy and happy way. This is one of the easiest steps a teacher can make to keep kids energetic and engaged in learning (and testing, for that matter).
How do you have a successful classroom dance party? Be sure to teach and model expectations for what a fun and safe dance party in your classroom should look like. Ask your students what is safe to do with their hands, body, legs, and arms? What volume level is respectful and appropriate to the classrooms surrounding yours? How do they react and interact with each other during this dance party? If you set the stage this way, your dance party is sure to succeed!
Throw on an upbeat song and have a quick 3 minute dance party. If you aren’t comfortable letting the kids lose and dancing freely, there are a lot of great online resources like Go Noodle and Just Dance for Kids!
Dance Through Transitions
Similar to having a quick dance party, using transitions times to dance can be a great way to keep kids active and engaged. Classroom teachers know that quick and efficient transitions are key to a learning focused classroom. Before your students move from one activity to the next, give clear, concise directions. Always teach and model transition expectations.
Once they are pros at this, meeting expectations most of the time, add in a little bit of fun with a dance move. You can also incorporate music as the “timer” in your transitions to get kids where they need to be quickly and painlessly. When modeled and practiced, students can safely and more joyfully move from one activity to the next, or even one classroom to the next, by doing the bunny hop, hustle, shuffle, disco, or even the Nae Nae! Truckin’ is the Swing for Kids transition of choice.
Take a Minute to Meditate
Mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular in schools because of the endless benefits for both students and teachers. Regularly implementing mindful practices like meditation, breathing, and reflection, into the school day has shown to increase student engagement and ability to focus, reduce stress and anxiety, improve peer relationships, and has even increased the teachers ability to be more responsive to student’s needs. Taking a quick minute to meditate can be a huge help to your students before testing begins as well as a strategy kids can use when anxiety flairs up during the PARCC test. Don’t forget! These skills should be taught and modeled to set students up for success!
Stretch and Breath
Practicing Yoga is another great way to get kids moving during the school day. Yoga has been shown to increase emotional stability and reduce anxiety and aggression in school-aged kids as well increase student engagement, academic performance, and improve relationships with peers and teacher. Taking a few minutes for a quick yoga sequence and breathing exercise can have a huge impact on your classroom, especially those students dealing with test anxiety.
Take a Music Break
Music has been shown to establish a more focused and happy classroom atmosphere, increase attention, enhance imagination, release tension, and energize students. Music breaks of all kinds can be beneficial from classical to swing to hip hop. Check out these fun and quick music integration ideas:
- Listen to a piece of classical music and draw what you hear
- Give your class the chance to earn a karaoke break when classroom expectations are consistently met.
- Use music to time classroom transitions.
- Play happy, high energy music (like Swing!) before testing begins.
Implementing these practices will help set a positive and focused tone during the PARCC test. It will help both you and your students reduce anxiety, build positive relationships, and create a happy connection with their classroom. We at Swing for Kids recommend these practices not just on testing days, but every day of the year!
For more tips on incorporating dance into the classroom, sign up for the Swing for Kids newsletter! You’ll get updates on Swing for Kids news as well as all the latest ideas and research around the benefits dance education.
- Why Your Class Should Have More Dance Parties – Go Noodle
- 15 Reasons All Children Should Learn to (Swing) Dance – Swing for Kids
- Smooth, Swift, and Efficient Classroom Transitions – Why are They Important? – Margaret Howard
- Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People – Universities of Exeter and Southampton
- Research on Mindfulness – Mindful Schools
- Namaste, Now Nap Time – The Wallstreet Journal
- Benefits of Music in the Classroom – Songs for Teaching
- Music and Learning: Integrating Music in the Classroom – John Hopkins Univeristy