This week, my daughter’s school has standardized testing. The kids spend half their day reading questions, sorting through multiple choice answers, and filling in bubbles with their selections. A necessary, standardized task for schools.
Test taking can be stressful for kids and parents alike. I’m not talking about the stress of actually taking the test, although that is a real concern for many (slow, full breath can help). I’m talking about the stress of how kids are being measured. For kids who don’t test well, it can cause concern about their opportunities and possibilities. I know, some of my kids have had challenges with standardized tests.
There are many kids out there who will do just fine and these tests are probably a pretty good measurement of their aptitude and intelligence in the subjects of grammar, spelling, reading comprehension and science. But, what about those kids who do not have natural gifts in those area. Some kids just don’t measure well. For some of these kids, these subject areas just don’t resonate with them.
Parents (and kids) please remember, these tests really only measure a small set of skills. They don’t measure if you are kind, funny, creative, a good friend, or a hard worker. There is no test to determine if you are an amazing artist or a talented musician. The list of things that a standardized test can measure is actually rather short.
This is why I love the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The research by Howard Gardner makes the case that there are lots of ways to learn and lots of ways to excel. Subjects like traditional math and spelling are just a small facet of intelligence. It really opens up the view of what a “smart kid” is and expands the gifts and talents that can and should be recognized. Some kids are “nature smart” and have a real affinity and connection with animals, plants, and the outdoors. Other kids are “kinesthetically smart” and know how to harness their bodies and movement.
In kids yoga training, we work with this theory and find ways to include lots of learning styles and intelligences in classes. It’s great when each individual has an opportunity to explore their talents and is given an opportunity to shine.
If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend the book, You’re Smart Than You Think: A Kid’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. This book does a great job explaining each intelligence and gives ideas for using areas of strengths to improve other areas. Check your local library or your favorite book seller.
It can still be stressful and sometimes I feel a twinge of anxiety when the results of the tests are sent home. But, what grounds me and brings me back to peace is remembering the long list of talents and strengths my kids do have. Most can’t be measured with a standardized test.