The thought of preparing for important school exams will likely fill student hearts with dread. Passing these exams is important, since state tests and other forms of high-stakes testing govern whether a student moves on to the next grade, graduates from high school, or even gets into college. While these exams are not usually fun to take, parents can make test prep bearable-and even fun.
1. Encourage Plenty of ZZZs
Sleep deprivation is significant since well-rested students tend to be healthier and more alert. While children should, naturally, get plenty of sleep throughout the year, parents should pay extra attention to sleep patterns when its time for school exams. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children 6-13 years old require 9 to 11 hours of sleep, and teenagers need 8 to 10 hours.
2. Tie Study Techniques to the Child’s Learning Styles and Interests
Make test prep as fun as possible! Kids may have different ways that they prefer to learn, including visual, verbal, social, and solitary, and parents often have a good idea of which learning style best fits their children. It can be effective to match test prep activities to your child’s learning preference. For example, a social learner might benefit more from studying with a sibling and parent rather than the parent alone. Such a child might also benefit greatly from group tutoring sessions. A solitary learner might benefit from reviewing study guides and taking several practice tests at his or her own pace.
Tying test prep to interests can also provide an extra boost of motivation. For example, parents can incorporate common state test skills such as reading, math, science, and even history into cooking lessons for a child who enjoys cooking.
3. Seek Out Extra Help
Young learners often gain an advantage when parents seek out extra help for state tests. Such help comes in a broad range of possibilities: study groups, tutoring, learning programs, and computer programs, to name just a few. Stride K12 offers a varity of math programs that can be purchased through their website and are great online math program to consider. It’s a highly adaptive program for grades 4-12 that simulates one-to-one learning by providing immediate individualized instruction to the child’s needs. With assessments and real-time reporting, parents can identify areas of strength and weakness in their children.
Avenues such as tutoring also help parents assess how prepared their children are, and they are ideal for providing students with the tools and concepts they need to prepare for exams.
4. Remain Calm
Parents can convey their anxiety to their children easily, which often tends to increase the pressure that students feel. Naturally, parents do not want their children grappling with issues such as sleeplessness, decreased appetite, and panic as an important exam looms; instead, parents need to project a tone of positivity and encouragement.
5. Familiarize the Child with the Exam and Environment
When something becomes familiar, it usually loses its mystique and hold over a student. Students also tend to feel more in control and more empowered when they know exactly what to expect. In many cases, parents can find previous or practice tests online, and teachers can also direct parents to additional resources (as well as serving as valuable test prep resources themselves). Not only should parents encourage their children to take practice exams, whether in one sitting or in chunks, but they also need to discuss the testing environment-for example, if the exam is on paper or on a computer, where the test will be, on what day, and if opportunities for breaks exist.
This article was originally published in 2016 and has been revised and republished