C.S. Lewis once said, “Be weird. Be random. Be who you are. Because you never know who would love the person you hide.” Well today, as we kick off our week of Standardized Testing, I know I speak for all of fourth, fifth, and sixth grades when I say how grateful we are that Mrs. Coombe was living proof of C.S. Lewis’ wisdom.
In acknowledgment of the cultural phenomenon of “emojis,” and realizing how stressed some young people feel about test-taking, Mrs. Coombe had the foresight to head off anxiety through laughter. Administering her special #2 pencils, has been the highlight of a day that might otherwise have made kids feel, “down the drain.” (Pun intended!) What a blessing to instead be vindicated as a child – to hear your teacher say, “I get that this is difficult, and it might feel crummy, but I want you to know I’m on your side, and here’s a little something to keep your spirits up.”
According to science and psychology research, laughter has numerous benefits, a few of which are:
– Reducing the level of stress hormones in your body such as cortisol and adrenaline
– Distracting the mind from negative focuses such as anger, guilt, stress, or fear
– Reframing one’s perspective from “threats” to “challenges”
Another recent study at California’s Loma Linda University found that between a test group asked to sit quietly and do nothing, as opposed to a test group allowed to watch funny videos as they waited, “… the ‘humor group’ performed significantly better when it came to memory recall. Participants who viewed the funny videos had much higher improvement in recall abilities, 43.6 percent, compared with 20.3 percent in the non-humor group,” (Shah, The Huffington Post: New Study Proves that Laughter is the Best Medicine).
So while we as teachers and parents know that Standardized Testing is a great snapshot of where our children and school rank among national standings, we also acknowledge that they are cumbersome and exhausting. Level with your kids and give them a little extra love and freedom on testing days, as I am sure you remember well your days with a scantron form and a number two pencil … even though I guarantee it wasn’t as uplifting as Mrs. Coombe’s!