Next week is our state math exam. In total, the students participate in three days of ELA exams and three days of math exams. It’s a time that can be stressful for students but I’d like to share a great way to quickly reduce the students’ stress…. Letters of Love!
About two weeks prior to the exams, I write to the families of my students asking them to send in anywhere between one and six letters. It’s completely their choice whether they send one letter that can be reread every day, a handful of letters that can be read and reread or six different letters for each day. The instructions are simple. Write a letter of encouragement to your student. I add a few suggestions that are listed below.
- It doesn’t have to be long.
- Keep it positive! 🙂
- Feel free to include drawings, pictures or photographs.
- Use your creativity.
- Last year we even had notes written from students’ pets. These letters definitely made the kids smile!
We all know the families give our students extra big hugs and take the time to encourage the kids before they run out the door to catch the bus on the days of the exams. But, by the time the students ride the bus to school (for some of our students it’s close to an hour), see their friends, eat breakfast, go to the bathroom and return to their seats for the day, they aren’t thinking about the giant hug they received. I wanted my students to take a deep breath and hear that they are loved from the people who matter most to them right before they started each exam.
Here are three important pointers about Letters of Love…
- Set a due date for the letters a few days before the exam. That way you’ll know which students didn’t get a letter. Make sure to write letters of encouragement to all of the students who didn’t receive a letter from home. Every student has to have a letter on his/her desk on the day of each exam. If letters trickle in after the due date, replace the letter you wrote with the one from home.
- Do not leave the letters on the desks during the exam. My kids read the letters in the morning while they are eating breakfast and coloring (another stress reliever) before announcements. Well before I begin reading test directions, I collect the letters. I guess this one depends on the state you are in, but we would not be allowed to keep the letters on the students’ desks during actual testing.
- Let the students keep their letters once all of the exams are over.
This has been the easiest thing to implement. The families love it and so do the kids. It gives students a chance to relax and take a deep breath before each exam which is exactly what I need them to do. And yes, I really do have pets write letters. Families are so creative! How cool is it to come in on the day of an exam and read a letter of encouragement from your horse, cat or dog? It’s a guaranteed smile on the child’s face, instant giggling from all of the friends sitting nearby and most importantly, the perfect opportunity to relax!