By the time children are in grade 3, they usually have a handle on this whole school thing. But grade 3 is also the first time students in Ontario have to write the EQAO Assessment.

Some children get anxious and some parents do too, so we have tips and advice to help your family relax and prepare.

  • There is no need to study. The EQAO assessment does not count towards a child's marks in grades 3 and 6, so there is no need to increase anxiety by cramming. If you are curious about the questions your child will be asked, check out the EQAO site and run through some practice tests yourself so you have some understanding of the structure of the assessment and you can better reassure your child.
  • This is practice. Let your child know that this is a way to show off what he or she knows and to practice test-writing skills so your child can be prepared for tests in later grades.
  • Be supportive. It is normal and natural to get nervous and this is a big deal for your child. Do not downplay fears or dismiss them as silly. Instead, encourage your child to talk out fears with you.
  • Relate. Tell your child about a time when you were scared or nervous and what you did to feel better. This will show your child that you are listening, you understand and it may help your child develop his or her own coping strategies.
  • Stay calm. Jessica Cooperman, a psychologist in the Child, Adolescent and Family Services unit at Markham Stouffville Hospital suggests giving your child relaxation tools. Save time the night before the big day to do something really fun. Go for dinner, see a movie or just goof around the house. Also, just before bed, try some relaxation techniques with your child like deep breathing. It will distract your child and relieve the anxiety a little bit. "If you know you have a worrying kid it could probably reduce a really hard night on everyone," says Cooperman.
  • Make it fun: Some teachers have plans to calm students' fears by giving the test days a happy theme with fun treats or prizes. Ask your child's teacher if there's anything planned and then get your child excited about the day because he or she gets to dress up or play games. If the teacher has nothing planned, either encourage the teacher to do so or make the days special and fun at home.
  • Talk to the Teacher. If your child is experiencing severe anxiety, talk to the teacher. There are things the teacher or school can do to help.
  • Set the alarm. The best thing you can do for your child the day of the assessments is to make sure your child is well rested, fed and gets to school on time.
  • Read more. For more on EQAO assessments and what they mean for your child, check out our Parent's Guide to EQAO Assessments.