Testing plays a big role in education these days. With all the additional pressure and stress put on our children to deliver a certain proficiency on these tests, it's no wonder that students dread the idea of having to take a test.
The reality is, standardized tests help to shape the future of education---they are a barometer for how we are serving our kids well and which areas we need to place more attention on in order to give them the best educational experience. While some students look forward to test time as an indicator of what they know and are able to do, others experience stress and anxiety at the mere thought of having to demonstrate their knowledge in an individualized way.
As parents, we wish the best for our children, and we want them to do well. How can we support their educational efforts and help them to ease test-taking anxiety so that they can improve their experience? Below are some tips for helping your child calm his fears and perform better, no matter what type of test he is taking. Follow these tips for test-taking success:
1. Talk it out and come prepared
Teachers will often send home information on test taking procedures, security protocols for testing, and dates that tests will be run. Make sure you know this important information, and communicate these dates and procedures to your child so that they are not surprised on the day of the exam. If your child has anxieties or fears around test time, talk them out, and encourage him that no matter how he does, you will be supportive of him.
2. Give your child extra support where he struggles
If you know that your child struggles with math concepts, do what you can to drill these skills before the day of the test. Similarly, if he is having trouble reading, one surefire way that you can help him improve his skills is by reading to, reading with, or having him read to you. Practice makes improvement; stay the course and encourage your child to continue practicing to build confidence and proficiency.
3. Consider a practice test
Once you have addressed anxieties and done some support work, perhaps it's time to consider a practice test. As you continue to place your child in a test-taking environment, he will become more comfortable with the whole idea of being assessed and trying his best, even if he doesn't know the answer to a question. Developing test-taking skills is almost as important as mastering the content; practice tests are a good idea for building confidence and helping him to familiarize himself with how a testing environment feels. High school students who have important tests coming up such as SAT have the option of attending SAT prep classes that will help them navigate test material to reduce stress on the day of the test.
4. Talk to your child's teacher or proctor, if you can
If you have questions or concerns, it is advised that you speak to your child's teacher or the proctor of the test beforehand. Let them know what their potential roadblocks could be to test-taking success, and allow them to work out a plan with you to optimize your child's environment. Think of you and the teacher as a team; you want the best for your child, and it is up to you to develop a plan for getting him there.
5. Practice adequate self care
Even the best preparation cannot outweigh a proper night's sleep and a healthy breakfast. Your brain and body work better when you have given them the proper tools for educational success, and as a parent, it is your responsibility to give your child what he needs to succeed. The night before the test, make sure your child gets a good night's sleep, and fill that inquiring mind with delicious, nutritious food on the morning of the test to keep his energy up.
6. Stay positive!
Your child will take his ideas and opinions about test taking and education in general from you. If you remain positive, focusing on all the opportunity that is presented to your child because of education and testing, he is more likely to take a positive view of it as well. Regardless of the outcome, he will be able to handle viewing his score and taking that knowledge to refine his educational pathway.
Testing in some form is here to stay; partnering with your child, your educators, and even the testing system will help you to optimize your child's results and improve his experience exponentially. Good luck on the test!