By Liz Dawson: AEP & Pilates Instructor
This month children across the country in years 3,5,7 and 9 will be put to the test, sitting the national NAPLAN exams, testing their reading, numeracy and literacy levels. Many children will be developing feelings of anxiety with mounting pressure to do their very best for themselves and their school.
As an Exercise Physiologist and Pilates Instructor, I am obviously going to vouch for exercise as an excellent form of stress relief and relaxation with the added benefit of increasing concentration levels. But that aside, I would also like to impart some valuable knowledge around breathing techniques that may help children during the testing process.
Breathing promotes calm behaviour, encourages focus and with the right technique will help the child relax and prepare for the task at hand.
Combined with a mantra, something like ‘I am prepared, I am focused, I will do my best’, deep breathing can also form a little ritual before the test begins. By breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, more oxygen will be circulated to the muscles and brain, thereby improving concentration.
It is also important as a parent to support your youngster with good nutrition and plenty of physical activity in the lead up to the exam to ensure their brain and body is working at its best. Encourage your child to stretch before and after the exam, as the stress and pressure can cause tense and tight muscles. Don’t underestimate the power of a walk and fresh air too, if logistically possible a walk to or from school on the day of the exams may be beneficial.
So good luck to all those amazing kids out there who will be put to the test. And for those fortunate ones that are still too little for NAPLAN, remember that taking deep breaths in and out, is good way to settle those butterflies that might creep in when you are doing ‘Show and Tell’ or performing in front of a crowd. Remember to tell the little voice inside to – Just Breathe!