The school system relies on standardized tests to determine which children are meeting the educational benchmarks for their age and grade. For many students, their performance can hold them back from progressing to the next grade level. Test anxiety can also skew test results so that they are not an accurate representation of the child’s academic knowledge. This can hold children back from participating at a higher academic level and cause their learning to be thwarted all because they have test anxiety. Especially with tests that are required for college admission, students can actually be denied their education of choice which effects their entire future. Because of the high stakes these tests represent, it is easy for both parents and students to be nervous and overwhelmed when the testing day arrives. Here are some tips for helping reduce the stress levels these tests approach.
Make Progress Throughout the Year
Long-term learning success starts with making steady progress throughout the year. Don’t avoid talking about or preparing for the test until the last minute. Cramming for a test won’t produce the same results that staying on top of homework assignments all year will. Make sure your child is completing any extra work that is sent home.
Check With the Teacher
Don’t wait until you have a parent-teacher conference to voice your concerns to the teacher. You aren’t being a bother. Most teachers want the best for their students, so making sure you have all the tools and information you need to support your child’s education is exciting for them. Teachers can also explain the purpose of different assignments, giving you a heads up on the material that is likely to be covered on the standardized test.
Get Additional Help
Most children will have strengths and weaknesses in their academic pursuits, so getting your child help in areas that are a struggle is a good way to improve their abilities. If your school district offers technology programs, you can review results and i-Ready scores in order to get a snapshot view of what subjects your child needs additional support in. It is typical that children tend to struggle in math, so any recommendation to pursue tutoring or extra help that i-Ready math identifies should be followed. If your child is struggling in reading, following the guidance will be critical for not only school, but life as well.
Read Often With Children
Many standardized tests have placed significant emphasis on reading comprehension. State tests also focus this area on nonfiction, so exposing your child to several types of literature and genres will improve their testing results. Reading together every night can expand your child’s vocabulary and also introduce them to concepts that require critical thinking. Ask questions about the passages read, and have the child tell the story or information back to you in their own words.
Develop Testing Skills
For some children, figuring out how to follow the pattern of the test is difficult. Some tests are being offered online, and making sure your child is comfortable using a keyboard and mouse is one skill that needs to be developed. For paper tests, teach your child how to fill in the answer bubble completely or how to fully erase an answer they want to change can improve your child’s testing performance. Your child’s teacher may be able to provide you with a practice test in order to more fully explain directions and what the test will be looking for.
Teach Relaxation Skills
Test anxiety isn’t just for college students and midterms. Small children can understand how important a test is and feel nervous about their performance. Work with your child to develop relaxation strategies that will keep them calm on the day of the test. Teach your child the importance of taking a deep breath and focusing their mind on the task at hand. Explain how staying calm and still can improve their ability to remember things they learned. Explore any option that you feel might work for your child from a healthy breakfast to a lucky charm in their pocket. Adjust your test-taking strategies as your child grows older. Spending time throughout the year talking about the test can also minimize apprehension on the day or week of testing.
As a parent, you can influence how well your child does on the test by building their confidence. Regardless of the results, make sure your child knows you are proud of him or her.