As the back-to-school season kicks into high gear, so does the homework, studying time and of course, tests. For many kids, test-taking can be an uneasy experience that takes a little bit more academic and emotional preparation. To ensure students are on the right track, experts agree, it is more important than ever for parents to work with teachers and family members to help their children understand how best to plan for a test even weeks leading up to an exam. Consider these tips to best prepare your child for testing success.
Weeks Before Testing
1) Start by sharing with your child that, as adults, we are also expected to learn new information, processes and skills; and that we have to be able to demonstrate what we have learned. Sharing your personal experiences might help reduce some of the pressure that many children feel.
2) Establish regular study routines for your child. Research shows that students who study in an environment that is similar to the actual testing environment (seating, before/after dinner, etc.) perform better on tests.
3) Talk to your child’s teachers about the test experience: what will be tested; the format of the test (multiple choice, essay, etc.) for a better understanding of how to work with your child on similar homework assignments. Help your child make the connection between what they learn through homework with what they’ll be tested on later.
4) Monitor your child’s progress throughout the year to understand what your child needs in the way of additional support or practice. For example, take advantage of parent-teacher conferences to talk to your child’s teacher about areas in which your child needs improvement or is starting to excel.
Days Before the Test
1) Ensure that your child eats a healthy breakfast and gets enough sleep to perform well.
2) Avoid schedule disruptions the week of the test such as doctor or dental appointments, etc.
3) Provide tools needed for the test. Having new pencils and erasers can be an amazing morale booster for your child!
4) Dress for success. Having something that children feel good about wearing helps to provide another layer of security and a tangible component to help them feel prepared.
5) Encourage your child to ask questions to get clarity on test directions.
6) Practice easy stress management and relaxation techniques: deep breathing when her chest feels tight; “Squeeze Lemons” (tighten fists up and release); “Elephant Stomp” (envision that you are lying in a jungle and an elephant steps on your stomach; tense up to support his weight and release when he steps off).
7) Be aware of inadvertently creating additional stress for your child. If you find yourself feeling anxious, distance yourself from those emotions to help alleviate any stress your child might also feel.
After the Test
1) Debrief with your child about the test (i.e., what went well, what they think they could do next time, etc.) to help them prepare for future test experiences.
2) Once results are in, go over the scores with your child and explain what they mean.
3) Relate lessons learned in a testing experience to homework and school assignments to help “connect the dots” on how regular school-day learning relates to test success.
4) Celebrate your children’s achievements regardless of their scores.
Testing is a Part of Life
It is good for children to understand that testing is one of many important phases in their lives that will challenge them. And as a parent, you can find simple ways to create a supportive environment and proactive plan for your kids that will ease the process and bring the most positive results. As the new school year gets underway, consider the long-term and short-term preparation that you can easily implement to help your child become a confident test-taker.
About the Author
Janeal Roberts is the Vice President of Education for Champions®, a division of Knowledge Universe, where she is responsible for the development and implementation of all curriculum, equipment, teachers’ training, quality assurance initiatives, research, and reporting. A 28-year veteran of Knowledge Universe, she has also served as a classroom Kindergarten teacher, Master teacher, Center Director at multiple locations, Curriculum Specialist, and School-Age Education Specialist.