As we begin testing this week (8/31 - 9/4) at Hershey Public schools, I encourage you to visit with your child(ren) about the importance of test taking and keep these tips in mind.
Testing is used in schools for two main purposes. One is to find out how well an individual student is learning in the classroom. For instance, teachers can test how well a child is responding to reading instruction by using assessments that measure specific skills necessary for fluent reading.
The other purpose is to find out how well the school is meeting local and national benchmarks for student achievement. For this purpose schools use tests, usually administered several times throughout the school year.
How to help
Take a deep breath. As a parent, the most important way you can help your child do well on tests is to read with your child regularly, talk with your child(ren) about their experiences, and provide regular routines while at home.
When well-meaning parents focus too much on test results, they put undue pressure on young children. For kids who struggle with attention or memorization tasks, testing can be extremely stressful because it requires students to draw entirely on these skills.
Respond to any concerns your child has with encouragement and support. Emphasize that there are lots of ways to express what you know, and that these tests are just one measure
Preparing a student for a Testing Session – For Parents
- Make sure your child(ren) gets an ample, normal amount of sleep the night before the test
- Mark testing days on your calendar to help remind you and your child(ren) when the testing will take place and plan your preparations.
- The student should eat a nutritious and filling breakfast. Avoid high sugar cereals which can make the student hyper and/or unfocused.
- Set aside time each night prior to the test to review the concepts that will be covered if possible
- Work with teachers and administrators at your child’s school to find materials to work on at home in preparation for the test
- Make sure the student is on time (if not early) on the day of testing
- Set a backup alarm to avoid the possibility of oversleeping
- If your child is sick please contact the school immediately to inform them.
Working with Students who are anxious about testing – For Parents
- Try not to put too much pressure on the student. Reinforce that as long as they worked hard in preparation and did their absolute best you will be proud of them.
- Have the child(ren) visualize success. Encourage them to rehearse what it will feel like to get a good score on the test.
- Work with them to focus on breathing. Stress is often caused by insufficient oxygen to the brain. Work with the student to take time before the test begins to take a number of deep, cleansing breaths, exhaling slowly. Focusing on breathing by taking some time when stress levels rise helps to focus the mind during testing.
- Encourage your child(ren) to review the night before the test, but avoid cramming. Cramming is rarely if ever effective. A longer, more systematic schedule of short reviews will prepare the student better.
- Try to use positive language when talking about expectations of the test. Do not overinflate the student’s expectations but also try to avoid negative wording (e.g. replace “you are going to fail this test if you don’t study” with “if you don’t study you aren’t going to pass this test.”)
- Plan for a fun outing or treat for your child after the test has been completed.
- Keep a positive attitude about testing in general around your child and emphasize their ability to demonstrate what they have learned rather than the consequences of not passing
On a Daily Basis
In addition to these strategies, there are a number of ways that you can maximize your child's learning capabilities throughout the school year, which can lead to confident test-taking. Some of these strategies include:
- Assisting your child with homework and ensuring that your child is completing all homework assignments
- Helping her to develop good study habits, thinking skills, and a positive attitude towards education from an early age
- Ensuring that your child(ren) has/have good attendance at school
- Staying in communication with your child's teacher
- Encouraging your child(ren) to read as much as possible, and to increase his/her vocabulary - even reading magazines, newspapers, and comic books regularly will help improve her reading skills
- Looking for educational games and programs that engage your child(ren)
- Helping your child(ren) learn how to follow directions carefully