Parents worry about required testing at the end of each school year, but you can reduce your child’s anxiety and improve his testing performance with Standardized Test Practice.
There are steps you can take to make sure your child understands how to take a standardized test, is ready for the test, and to make sure your child is willing to put forth his best effort.
Standardized Test Practice Step #1: Have Your Child Practice standardized test taking skills:
If your child is in public school, they’ll probably have the students practice standardized test taking skills, but if your child is homeschooled, he may need a bit of standardized testing practice to become comfortable with the process.
There are standardized test practice resources at each grade level. To help your child get ready, acquire the most appropriate practice resource, then have your child practice once or twice per week for 6-8 weeks prior to the scheduled testing. Ideally, have your child practice for an hour each Saturday morning until the exams. Practicing in the morning is when your child is more alert and well rested, which means the practice is likely to go better than it will as an addition to a school day.
Standardized Test Practice Action Step:
- If your child is K-8, use Standardized Test Practice books (we used the McGraw-Hill Spectrum books);
- Use PSAT practice programs for 9th & 10th grade students; and
- For high school 11th & 12th graders, they should use ACT or SAT practice programs (or both, depending upon which test(s) your child will be taking).
Standardized Test Practice #2 Help Your Child Strengthen His Weakest Skill
If your child has learning difficulties and struggles with basic reading decoding skills, his math facts, writing skills, or has difficulty with processing speed or memory, then your child may show some improvement if you have him use a basic skills program daily. (Doing this before bed helps your child process and retain the learning better).
For example, if your child has difficulty remembering his math facts, having him use a computer-based practice program for 20-30 minutes before bedtime will help your child with his memory and recall of the math facts.
If your child has difficulty with memory or processing speed, then using a cognitive enhancement program daily can improve those areas of cognition. Improving these basic abilities has been shown to improve performance overall when the programs are used consistently on a daily basis.
If your child has difficulty with writing, then you will need to use a program to work directly with your child since writing skills are not easily practiced through a computer program.
Standardized Test Practice Action Step
Standardized Test Practice #3 Build Your Child Up with Encouragement
Encourage your child whenever he is working hard. Even if you don’t *think* your child works very hard, if you notice him working, encourage him. Every child wants to please his parents and if you complement him, it will encourage him in his work.
If you have difficulty figuring out how to encourage your child, consider reading “Encouraging Words For Kids.” The book will help you become an encourager for your child in all aspects of his performance in a way that will inspire your child to do his best in all things.
Standardized Test Practice Action Step:
Make it a point to complement your child each week at a minimum (daily is better) and tell him how pleased you are with his hard work and effort. More people go places through hard work than through what comes easy for them, so it’s the work and effort that needs to be built up in your child.
Whatever you do, try not to express any worries or anxieties to your child about standardized testing. Point out that the testing helps you know how to teach your child better. In the case of high schoolers, be sure to point out they can retake the SAT or ACT, if needed, and your child should try to relax and do his best.
Reducing your child’s test anxiety by being relaxed about it can help your child perform better. Practice will make your child comfortable with standardized tests.
If you follow these three simple steps, your child will be as ready for standardized testing as possible. At a minimum, you will feel more confident that your child is prepared for the testing, and the test anxiety you reduce may very well be your own!
If you’re testing your own child, you may want to read about the pros and cons for using the ITBS versus Stanford-10 to evaluate your child.
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