*Helping Kids with Tests*
Some kids in school worry so much about tests that they worry themselves into poor performance. From spelling tests in first grade to college entrance exams tests are everywhere in a young personís life and they need to know how to deal with them. With the increasing reliance on tests in school and high stakes tests nationwide we need to help our kids to show others what they know on the tests they take and to reduce this test anxiety. The Parent School Institute in Fairfax Station, Virginia has a lot of ideas on how to improve test scores for children and most school have pamphlets to help too. Here are some of the best Iíve seen.
Start by soothing your childís nerves about test taking in general:
- There are skills needed for test taking. Some kids know the rules and are good at baseball. Others need to be taught the skills and rules of baseball and test taking is no different. You can learn the skills.
- Good test scores arenít everything. Attendance, attitude, homework, daily grades, quizzes, all have credit. Test scores are important but for most schools are just part of the overall grade.
- One test score Ė good or bad is just one test score. If the trend is good grades and show that your child knows the subject and can demonstrate that they know it Ė one bad test score is not the end of the world.
- Try to make sure that your child knows that you value them. I think most of us want our children to TRY their best not always to BE the best.
There are three real testing tips everybody should remember:
- Remind them to listen and follow direction. Most teachers (all good ones by the way!) will tell children what they expect before the test. Show all work on math, guess on questions you donít know. Donít write below the black line or double space your essay, etc. Make sure they not only listen to, but understand these instructions.
- Practice following directions at home at this is problem for your child. Give a recipe to follow, take a newspaper article and have the circle all the nouns. Set time limits on things even doing homework as practice because so many tests are timed.
- Remind them to get physically ready for the test. A good nights sleep, some confidence that they are ready, a good breakfast the day of an especially important test, even a layering system like a sweater that helps if they are cold and can come off if they are too warm.
There are really only about six ways to be really test smart :
- Donít Cram. There will be less pressure to cause test anxiety and your child will remember more from repeated short exposure than cramming.
- Read the Directions. The teacher may give some directions orally before the test but some may be written on the test. Pay attention to them.
- Skim the Test. Skim through the whole test quickly to begin. By skimming through the whole test your child will know what to expect. Are the last two questions essays that will take extra time? Is the first section the hardest with the longest questions so there is not really a reason to get discouraged and think the whole test is going to be a disaster.
- Donít be afraid to skip a question. Donít get panicked when you hit a question you donít know or canít understand. I call it paralysis by analysis. Just skip it and go on to the next question. No one can know everything!
- Check your work. I always say to save some time to check each answer even if it means that you donít get a chance to answer every question. Itís the careless mistakes that often cause the bad grades, adding instead of subtracting for example.
- Look for clue words. Especially on true or false tests there are clue words like every, never, always that indicate you can eliminate that answer. If you arenít sure about a question but you do know about a word in the question, try to figure the question out based on the clue word you do know.
All of these things should help you to help your child avaoid that all too common test anxiety. I hope it does help!
As I always say -
Get out and train!
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