Do Your Best on the Test: How to Help Your Child Prepare for Standardized Tests

Spring means warmer weather is on the way, along with longer days and . . . standardized tests.

While tests may not be on the top of your child’s list of favorite things, they are a reality of most classrooms. Lucky for you, there are plenty of things you can do to help your child prepare for standardized tests. Consider these test-taking tips you can follow at home to ensure your child has the best chance for success.

Teachers! Download our handout and send it home so all parents can help their child prepare for standardized tests! 

Keep It Positive

hand-out for parents on how to help your child prepare for standardized tests

Julie Roesch, a 4th-grade teacher at Lindbergh Elementary School in Little Falls, Minn., says she works hard to make sure her students approach tests with an upbeat attitude.

“Before every standardized test, I have my students stand up and raise their right hand and repeat after me,” she says. “I have them say, ‘I am smart. I am going to read carefully. I am going to think. I am going to try. I am going to show what I know. I am going to ROCK THIS TEST!’ I preach that a positive attitude will go a long way to having success!”

Parents can use similar strategies at home, reminding kids that they can do it. Taking a few minutes on test day to reassure your children that you believe in them can make a big difference.

Promote Strong School Habits

Parents, teachers, and students all work together to create a successful learning experience. You can support what teachers are doing in the classroom by making sure your child attends school regularly, missing as few days as possible. A drop in attendance can lead to falling behind and missing important test review sessions.

Work With Your Child’s Teacher

Don’t hesitate to meet with your child’s teacher regularly to talk about any concerns you may have. This is particularly important if you know your child has test anxiety, or if you believe he doesn’t test well. Your child may do well in school but his test scores may not reflect this. Work with the teacher to create strategies you can implement at home to promote test readiness and help your child prepare for standardized tests.

Don’t Cram

Be sure your child gets plenty of rest the night before a test. Don’t spend time trying to cram in a year’s worth of learning in one night. Instead of preparing for the big day, this can backfire and lead to increased anxiety. Trust that the teacher has been preparing your child all year long for the test and that your role is to provide a calm and relaxing atmosphere at home.

Make the Most of Test Day

Provide a healthy breakfast on the morning of the test. Avoid sugary foods that can make your child jittery (and decrease concentration) or heavy foods that might lead to drowsiness. Check out these ideas for quick, nutritious breakfasts.

Reinforce Test-Taking Skills

No matter what grade level your child is, test-taking strategies are universal. Remind your child to take his time, trust his “gut” feeling if he doesn’t know an answer, and pay attention to the questions.

“Along with going in with a mindset they will do well, I remind them to read everything—including captions, headings, directions, along with the text,” Roesch says. “Read the questions and all the answer choices. Then after picking their answer, go back and reread the question and answer it with their answer. Think … does that answer make sense?”

Keep It In Perspective

Remember that one test score does not sum up your child’s entire academic record. Your child might have been tired, not feeling well, anxious, or distracted on test day. Try not to focus only on one test or to get upset if the score is not ideal. Many factors work together to promote success in the classroom, and standardized tests are just one part of the overall picture.

What test-taking strategies have you used in your house to help your child prepare for standardized tests? Let us know!

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