It’s officially Spring. While that means warmer temperatures and blooming flowers, it also means testing season. Many students will be facing standardized tests, quizzes, and final exams. Test scores can not only affect this year’s grade, but they can also affect a child’s placement next year in school.
Maintaining a calm and helpful attitude during this time is critical for your student’s success. Here is a quick list of helpful tips for success during testing time.
Encourage Your Child
Praise your child for the things he or she does well. When children feel good about themselves, they will do their best. Help build confidence in your child when it comes to schoolwork, grades, and tests. Children who are afraid of failing tend to be more likely to become anxious when taking tests and typically make more mistakes.
Talk to the Teacher
Teachers often have study guides for a test, outlining the format and the information that the test will cover. If your child hasn’t brought home a study guide and you have not received one by email, visit or call the teacher. Ask the teacher to suggest activities for you and your child to do at home to help prepare for tests and help improve your child’s understanding of the subject matter.
Talk Testing Strategies
Test-taking strategies don’t come naturally to most kids. However, parents can help teach their children useful tips like:
- When the test is beginning, take a few minutes to scan all the directions and questions.
- Look for answers that are obviously wrong. Ngenius Tutoring and Test Prep calls it “slash the trash.” Cross out the incorrect answers, so only potential correct answers are left.
- Encourage your child to skip the most difficult questions but leave enough time to come back to them. They may think of the answers later and if they don’t, they’ll still have time to make an educated guess. Bypassing the more challenging questions allows students to answer more questions and get better scores.
- For math tests, we highly recommend that students go back and review their calculations. Sometimes simple mistakes early in the problem can cause the entire problem to be wrong. Plugging the answer back into the original equation is another great way to see if you are right.
Boost the Basics
It’s good to know the basics about how parents can support their students during exams – after all, some of this is new to first-time test takers!
- Provide a quiet, comfortable place for studying at home.
- Encourage your child to space out studying over a couple of day. Cramming the night before a test typically increases anxiety and interferes with clear thinking.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep the night before tests and exams. Children of all ages need plenty of zzz’s! Most 5 to 12 year olds need 10 to 11 hours a night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, things get really challenging at puberty and throughout adolescence. Teenagers need more sleep than adults and the recommendation is 8-1/2 to 9-1/4 hours a night. Many students do not get enough sleep, which can impair school performance, grades on tests, and even raise the risk of depression and other mood disorders.
- Also, research has shown the importance of breakfast on academic performance, the same applies for tests. Make sure you focus on foods that are healthy, like eggs, whole grain toast, or oatmeal with fruits. Avoid sugary items like donuts and energy drinks.
- Sometimes it is difficult to remember or re-learn what your child is studying. Asking for help does not make you a bad parent. Ask your child’s teacher to explain to you the lesson your child is learning. Ask friends and family to help with your child’s homework or even reach out to a professional, such as a local tutoring company.
Avoid “Test Anxiety” Yourself
As a parent, it’s good to be concerned and aware of tests. However, it’s not good for parents to get “test anxiety.” Excessive worry about your child’s performance on a test can mean disaster for a student. Children can sense anxiety in their parents, and often internalize these feelings. Don’t get upset because of a single test score. Remember, one test is simply one test. Students sometimes feel added pressure to do well on tests from parents, and that can end up having a negative effect.
By using these tips, your child has the optimum combination for performance with reduced stress. When the tests are over, continue to stay positive with your student, regardless of grades. There will always be more tests, and your continued support will help your child approach future tests in a more positive light. Parents are the most important teachers in their child’s life. Continue to communicate and talk to them before, during and after schoolwork and tests. Help instill a love of learning in your child!
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