Preparing our kids for standardized tests

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With the upcoming New York State exams and other standardized tests such as the Florida FCAT, parents are eager to know what results the test will bring, as those results will determine whether their child graduates to the next grade. But rather than just wait for the results, parents can help their kids prepare for tests by reducing their anxiety and making sure they are ready to go on test day.

Here are a few ways to prep your children for testing

Talk to your child. Having real conversations about the possible outcomes of the tests allows your child to be prepared mentally for whatever happens. While having these conversations, be positive, but also reassuring, by discussing a contingency plan: “but if this should happen, we will do this…”

If you know that your child is having difficulty in a subject area, if possible find him a tutor. If you have the time, work with your child and tutor him yourself. Another option is to speak with your child’s teacher and ask if your child can be placed with a student who is performing better in the classroom, for peer tutoring.

It is never too soon to teach your children to read for enjoyment

It is never too soon to teach your children to read for enjoyment

Have your child read for enjoyment. If he likes comics, comics it is. Ask him about what he is reading. While discussing this, try to incorporate several skills that are taught in school.

Ask your child why he thinks the author wrote that particular selection (author’s purpose), or what the selection was mostly about (main idea), what took place at the beginning, middle, and end (sequence of events), what the problem was and what steps were taken towards the solution.

That way, your child is reading for enjoyment, and you are reinforcing his comprehension skills.

Have him help you with math. Provide your children with math scenarios at the supermarket or at the bank. Apply what he knows and challenge him to improve in his weak areas. Giving children those real-life connections allows you to reach your child’s learning style, whether it is visual, verbal, physical, logical, social or solitary.

Practice question BRATs. This is the acronym that we use in our school, and children apply this when we are test prepping and throughout the day. With question BRATs, they look for “buzz words” which enable them to identify key words within the question,  then they “restate” the question in their own words so that they can better understand what is being asked. Then they “attack and answer” that question head on, without any fear, and then they need to “take” a second look. When in doubt, always double-check your answer.

If parents incorporate these simple tactics early on in the school year, children and parents both might not be so uneasy about standardized tests, and children might be better equipped for test time.

Standardized tests

Although standardized tests do not measure intelligence, they do determine whether your child will graduate from his or her current grade level / Photo: Shutterstock

Some helpful hints for test day

Prior to the test, children should already have a daily routine. Sure, life doesn’t always go as planned, but on test day in particular, your kid’s routine should be as close to normal as possible, so he starts the day without chaos or disruption.

Make sure that your child is confident. Remind him often that there is no reason to be afraid.

  • Find literature that pertains to the test such as “Testing Miss Malarkey” by Judy Finchler and Kevin O’Malley and “The Big Test” by Julie Danneberg. By reading these kids’ books, children are reminded that they are not alone.
  • Make sure that your child gets a good night’s rest. A good dinner, a great night’s sleep equals a happy and prepared child the day of the test.
  • Have clothes prepped and all belongings packed the night before, so the morning goes smoothly. Your child doesn’t need added distractions or stress the morning of the exam.

The morning of the test, have your child eat a hearty breakfast. Try to stay away from oatmeal as it seems to make kids a bit sleepy.

Make sure your child has plenty of sharpened #2 pencils.

Remind your kid that a test does not determine the level of his intellect. Tell your child you are right by his side every step of the way.

How do you help prepare your child for an exam?

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