Now that schools are back from Spring Break, a lot of student testing will begin. Here’s a list of what to do to help your child succeed:
1. Provide your child a nutritious breakfast.
Breakfast continues to be the most important meal of the day. Children should have a balanced breakfast which includes complex carbohydrates and protein.
2. Reduce the anxiety around the test.
High-stakes tests can be stressful for students. Not only are the tests sometimes a challenge, but the environment is often unfamiliar. Children should be encouraged to do the best that they can, but not to overanalyze the assessment or their performance.
3. Encourage a strength-based mindset.
We all do better when people believe in our ability. If your child expresses self-doubt or insecurity around their performance, build them up and provide concrete examples of how you have seen them be critical thinkers and learners.
4. Anxiety:Our children’s lives revolve around school and family. Those are the two big areas that consume and run their lives. When there is an issue in one of these areas, it can be all-consuming and kids can have difficulty keeping things in perspective. Encourage them as they work to maintain balance and strive not to become anxious.
5. Demystify the assessment.
Do not teach to the test or do test prep. You cannot cram for a standardized assessment. Classroom learning is the best form of test prep. However, students need to know the testing environment, the types of tasks they will be asked to perform and general overview of the concepts assessed. If you are able to review this information with your child, it may be helpful. (A number of schools send home sample problems and testing details.)
6. Learning from every experience.
Prior to taking the test, encourage your child to use the assessment as a learning experience. Encourage metacognition (thinking about their thinking) while they are taking the test. What did you notice about how you approached the problems? What do you think you did well at? What are areas that you would like to see yourself grow in
7. Every day we have the opportunity to perform.
Remind your child that these assessments are one snapshot in time. It is how they did that day on that subject. They have opportunities every day to demonstrate their learning. Again, have a growth mindset with your child.
8. Be a listener.
Sometimes children just want adults to listen. They don’t always want us to fix it, but they definitely want to be heard, valued and validated.
9. Get adequate sleep.
Our children need to be well rested. Read with your child at night and help reinforce good bedtime routines.
10. Set them up for success!
Use positive language to support your child around the assessment. Praise them for their learning attributes (e.g. perseverance, precision, hard work, etc.), not for the scores they receive. These attributes will serve them long after the test.
Written by: Heidi Kattula, Oakland Schools Executive Director of District and School Services
Kellye Wood, Oakland Schools Director of Early Childhood
Steven Snead, Oakland Schools Supervisor of Curriculum and Assessment