School time is upon us again, and that means tests! I don’t remember having tests until late elementary school, but even first and second graders may have spelling tests now. And let’s not forget the spring-time ritual of standardized tests! Whether your children breeze through tests or struggle a little more, you can help them prepare for tests and make the whole test-taking experience more positive.
Preparing for the test…
The main key to preparing for tests is to know the work and study ahead of time. Get your child a planner so she knows when tests are and won’t forget about them. Cramming the night before will just lead to “information overload” and make your child nervous (not to mention overly tired the morning of the test). Many teachers give study guides so your children should know exactly what the test will cover and have all the information they need to study in one place. You can also use the study guide to quiz your child.
If your child is having trouble memorizing facts, try to come up with a mnemonic or other memory trick. After all, didn’t we all learn the names of the Great Lakes by remembering HOMES and Roy G. Biv taught us the colors of the rainbow. In the movie Akeelah and the Bee, Akeelah memorized her spelling words by jumping rope. Maybe your child can turn their facts into a chant or song, like Hannah Montana did on an episode of her show.
If your child gets nervous about taking tests, teach her some relaxation techniques, such as taking deep breaths and stretching. Praise her for the things she does well so she will be more self-confident in general.
The night before the test, make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep. Eating a carbohydrate-rich dinner will help your child stay calm and fall asleep.
Time for the test…
Help your child get the morning off to a good start by serving a high-protein breakfast to help improve alertness and mental agility. If your child’s teacher allows it, send a water bottle so your child can stay hydrated during the test. Also see if you can send a peppermint for your child (or a bag for the whole class). Peppermints are both soothing to nervous tummies and stimulating to the brain.
Encourage your child to develop good test-taking habits:
- Read the test directions and to ask questions if any of the instructions are unclear.
- Pace herself to complete the entire test
- As she goes through the test, lightly circle or check any questions she wants to go back and double-check if she has time at the end
Also encourage her to say a short prayer before the test begins.
Once your child gets her test results back, it will hopefully be time to celebrate. But no matter how your child does, make sure she knows you love her. Help her review the test comments and go through the answers she got wrong. Did she misunderstand or misread the question? Does she not yet understand a concept? Did she get too nervous?
Remember that you can always meet with your child’s teacher to discuss her progress. Ask the teacher for ideas that you and your child can do at home to prepare for tests and improve your child’s school performance.
Good luck helping your child succeed in a new school year!