Spring is right round the corner and that is when many school districts begin to participate in a variety of state-mandated tests, which can be pretty stressful on kids. While their is quite a difference of opinions of whether or not these tests are effective or beneficial to kids, there is really no avoiding them at this point, so it’s best to play along and help to prepare your children the best as you can. These tests show school districts if their students are making adequate yearly progress toward achieving proficiency and often help to decide the amount a school gets in federal funds, the ability to provide free tutoring, and as well as funding to particular school run activities. Needless to say, teachers are put under a lot of pressure to have their students perform well and our kids can feel this. They know the tests are important and want to perform well, and that can cause a lot of stress and sometimes even some testing anxiety, especially in younger kids that may be taking these tests for the first time. The tests don’t need to be all consuming though and by using these 5 simple tricks, you can be sure your student feels his or her best and are ready to be a testing rock star!
REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW!
Depending on the test, some districts will send home a “practice” or review packet a week or so before. Be sure to review the contents with your child to be sure they understand the concepts they will be tested on. These should have already been covered in their classroom, so if you come across any set of questions that your child seems clueless on, ask their teacher about it! They will want to work with your child at school as well to ensure they are understanding the proper concepts before test day.
REPLICATE THE TESTING SITUATION AT HOME
Most of us do homework with our kids at the table and there is lots of noise going on (especially if their are younger kids at home!) This won’t be case during testing at school and this silence and cause anxiety in certain children. The testing environment is a serious one and this can make kids nervous that they won’t perform well. Help to address this before the big day by replicating the testing environment at home. Make the room very quiet and encourage your child to pretend they are at school. Ask your child’s teacher if the kids will be reading the questions or if the teacher will. Different tests have different rules, so explain to your child what they are so they can be familiar with them before the big day.
GO OVER BASIC TESTING STRATEGIES WITH YOUR CHILD
Most kids learn some basic testing strategies at school, so it’s important to review these at home as well. These “strategies” can help a child figure out which answer is the correct one, especially if they don’t know the correct one right off the bat!
Here are some simple testing strategies you can practice with your child:
-listen carefully to the directions
-read the whole question and all of the answers
-cross off any answers you know are already wrong
-be mindful of the time
-don’t leave any questions blank
-always check your work!
START THE DAY OFF RIGHT
Great test taking begins at home with a full night’s sleep and a delicious and nutritious breakfast. Be sure to include plenty of protein since it’s been shown that a protein-filled breakfast can help improve focus and mental stability and it will also help keep little tummies full. You don’t want to have grumbling bellies during an important test!
SEND IN SOME MOTIVATION
After packing a healthy lunch for your child, sneak in a little motivational note telling them how proud you are of them! A little handwritten note from mom or dad can go along way in assuring your child feels the best about them self. Adding in their favorite treat for a job well done will be a special and welcomed surprise as well. Also, at the end of the testing week, celebrate as a family with a special dinner out or ice cream from their favorite place.
Testing is a part of life and it’s important to begin to build up these strategies now to help try and avoid more serious testing anxiety down the road. As your child gets older, these tests can have more serious implications, such as graduation requirements and also aid in college acceptances. If a child in 2nd grade begins to build the self confidence for taking tests now, that will carry to later in life. The most important thing is to listen to your child and see what they need. Be sure not to overload them or make them more stressed and if you have any concerns, include their teacher in the discussion; they are sure to have more tricks up their sleeves and it’s a good idea for them to know if you child is feeling nervous anyways.