Testing plays a major role in your child’s academic experience. During testing season, students all over the state are taking high-stakes assessments for days at a time. Teachers build up to this time of year, and it’s important that your child performs their best.
As a parent, there are a number of ways you can support your child during standardized testing. Here are 10 simple tips for preparing your child.
1. Communicate with your child’s teacher
Make a point of meeting or talking with your child’s teacher on a regular basis. This will keep you informed of when testing is coming up. Their teacher will also be able to let you know what areas your child is struggling with and give you resources to help them out. If you know your child will need special accommodations or support during testing, talk to their teacher before testing begins.
2. Help your child study in a way that benefits them
Unfortunately, standardized tests are only offered in one format, but not every child learns the same way. Make sure your child knows the material by finding ways to help them study based on their learning style. (Your child’s teacher may be able to point you in the right direction if you’re unsure of their learning style.) Studying can be fun if you work in different approaches; mix things up and try using flash cards, drawing, making up songs, or interactive games to help convey the content your child needs to know.
3. Give your child a study space
A quiet, comfortable place for studying can make a huge difference in your student’s ability to concentrate and focus on their materials. A study space is especially important for students who are home-schooled or enrolled in online charter schools. Keep anything they would need to study properly—highlighter, scratch paper, earphones even—within reach and try to eliminate any distractions until they’ve completed their work or study session.
4. Talk to your child about the tests
Talking to your child about upcoming standardized tests can give them a better understanding of the purpose of the assessments. Putting the test into perspective—that it is important, but no one is expected to get every answer correct—can help relieve your child’s stress and motivate them to simply do their best. Have an open, ongoing conversation with them so they’re less intimidated when it comes time for testing.
5. Offer encouragement and positive reinforcement
Confidence can go a long way in how your child feels on test days. Leading up to the tests, give them positive reinforcement and praise them for the work they do. Cheer them on as they study, and if they’re struggling in an area, offer encouragement and help them work through their confusion. Use positive language when talking about tests to help your child avoid any extra stress or anxiety during testing.
6. Stay calm
A large part of reducing your child’s stress around testing is reducing your own stress. Your child will likely pick up on any anxiety you have about their performance, so it’s important to keep your cool around them. Again, use positive language when discussing state testing, but do not pressure them or set too-high expectations.
7. Making testing days special
Testing days are important, and making them special can change how your child feels going into them. Mark testing days on your calendar so you can build excitement and also countdown the days with your child. The night before, make their favorite meal and on the morning of the test, serve them a nutritional breakfast. Then plan a fun activity or treat for your child when testing has finished. By making tests seem fun, exciting, and special, they’ll end up looking forward to it with a positive attitude, confidence, and little stress.
8. Get plenty of sleep
Well-rested students typically do better on tests. Tired children have difficulty focusing and making decisions. Your child should be getting an adequate amount of sleep throughout the year, but it is especially important the nights before testing days. The National Sleep Foundation states that children 6-13 years old require 9-11 hours of sleep, and teenagers need 8-10 hours.
9. Fuel your child with a hearty, healthy breakfast
Make sure your child gets a nutritious and filling breakfast before taking the tests. Avoid high-sugar cereals or baked treats, which can make them hyper in the morning and then cause an energy crash later. Give them breakfast that includes only natural sugars (like those found in fruit), as well as protein, so that they’ll feel full and content until lunch time.
10. Get your child to school on time
On the morning of test-taking, give yourself extra time to make breakfast, get your child ready, and get to school. It’s essential that they’re at school on time (if not early), so they don’t miss the start of the test or important instructions. Some schools may not even allow your child to enter their classroom once the test has been started. Being rushed will make them flustered and could throw off their morning, so set a backup alarm to avoid the possibility of oversleeping or running late.