It’s springtime, which means annual testing is on the horizon in Louisiana and other states. Nobody really looks forward to standardized tests, but they’re important for a number of reasons. For schools and states, they provide a useful source of information about how much students are learning, which helps them make decisions about which students and schools may need more attention. For parents, tests offer a second opinion on how their children are progressing in school – one that sometimes highlights learning strengths or challenges that they didn’t know about.
For most students, tests are a fact of life. Usually, their schools spend at least some time preparing for the tests, practicing basic test-taking strategies and helping them understand the questions. If schools are doing this in a healthy way, students should be aware of and ready for the tests but not stressed out about them. At home, you can aim for the same balance. Here’s how:
1. Get to know the tests your child is taking
Try resources like Be a Learning Hero’s Ready for the Test website, where you can look up which tests your child will take and view samples. Walk through a few examples with your child and see if he or she understands how to answer the various kinds of questions.
2. Avoid cramming
Spending hours on practice questions in the days or weeks before the test will wear out your child and probably won’t make much of a difference. It’s not a bad idea to help them get comfortable with the general format of the test and review any material they haven’t covered in a while, but don’t go crazy.
3. Be positive and calm
Kids take their cues from their parents; if you seem stressed about the tests, they will be, too. On the other hand, if you never even mention the tests, they may think they don’t matter at all. Strive for a balance and emphasize that you mostly want them to try hard and do their best. On the day of the test, give them a big hug and tell them you’re proud of them.
4. Make sure they come to school well-rested and fed
It’s hard for kids to concentrate when they haven’t gotten enough sleep or are working on an empty stomach. Set them up for success by getting them to bed on time the night before and giving them a healthy breakfast.
5. Celebrate their effort
Completing a test takes hard work and focus. While the results may take months to be delivered, you can still celebrate all the effort your child put into the test by taking them to their favorite restaurant afterwards or bringing home a special treat for dessert.
Remember, the best test prep is real learning.
If it seems like your child’s school is hyperventilating about annual testing, that’s a problem that you should discuss with teachers and the principal. Schools should be putting their energy into teaching kids, not drilling them. If students are learning what they should be throughout the year, their test scores will show it.