As a mom and an educator, I often have test anxiety for students around the Lowcountry. From an educational standpoint, testing is one measure of how state academic standards were taught and how students were able to take this information and apply it to an assessment. There is an important balance of preparing students for standardized testing, and not creating test anxiety.
We all know what it is like when a teacher says,”here is the test.” Your palms get sweaty, your stomach aches, and you are filled with self-doubt. To assist with the upcoming state standardized testing season, here are some simple ways to prepare your children. Prepared students are more likely to achieve what the test is designed to do, and then you can look for achievement.
5 Basic Test Preparation Strategies
- Know your child’s state standards. Find the SC state standards at: http://ed.sc.gov/instruction/standards-learning/ Knowing your child’s 4th grade standards will help guide your conversations in the car ride home from school. Instead of asking what your child learned today, guide the conversation with “In Social Studies I know you are learning about Westward Expansion, tell me more about that.”
- Show your child example test questions. Did you know that you can locate the tests online and that most tests will provide sample test questions. Once your child understands what the test will look like, the anxiety of the unknown will diminish. Take a look and provide sample test prep questions to complete together.
- Find healthy ways to manage stress. Eating healthy and exercising are some of the best ways to manage stress. In the most successful classes, I have seen teachers teaching meditation strategies and breathing techniques. The more we show children how to relieve stress, the more they can use these skills during a high-stress testing situation.
- Slow and Steady. Unlike other tests, end of the year tests needs to be taken slow and steady. Test prep for academic material and standards begins at the beginning of the year. Having your child complete in-class assignments, reading, and studying for weekly tests will all help prepare for the end of the year test. Last minute academic prep will help, but is not the best way to retain academic material.
- Finally, set goals with your child. To help reduce test anxiety, one thing I have found useful is to goal set with children. I will often challenge a classroom full of students to take at least one minute per question. So if there are 43 questions on the test, I will challenge students to take an hour to complete the test. Students are young, and often can be impulsive, but by teaching them perseverance and how to keep from getting fatigued, achievements can be higher. Reminding them to stay focused and take their time is a great strategy. I find that the students that are among the to finish are the ones with the highest test scores.
End of the year testing is stressful for all teachers, parents, and students. We must remember that we are all responsible for student achievement. Creating a balance between preparing children and yet understanding that they are still children is vital. Finding ways to nurture them through test preparation and understanding our state academic standards is key! A high score on one test does not measure your child’s ability to be successful; however it is our responsibility to set them up for testing success.
Good Luck to all Lowcountry children during this year’s testing season!