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Parents Can Help Students Tackle Standardized Testing Day
Parents Can Help
Students of all ages are subjected to standardized testing throughout the school year. Whether it is a national test such as the ITBS, SAT, or the ACT or a state test like the STAAR in Texas, the STAR in California, or the NYS in New York, testing often creates fear and anxiety in children, but there are some things that parents can do, that do not involve teaching the subject matter, to help students relax and tackle the test.
Ensure Student Needs are Met
Parents of students with special learning and behavioral needs should contact with the school staff a few weeks before the test to make certain their student's needs are met on testing day. Student disabilities can legally qualify students to receive accommodations such as extra time, taking the test orally, a modified test, or testing in a small group.
Additionally, parents of students who have extreme anxiety should talk to school staff to find out if their student qualifies for accommodations such as testing in a small group or in a one-one-one situation to reduce student test anxiety.
Open lines of communication between parents and school staff can ensure students' needs are not overlooked.
Know the Schedule
Parents must ensure that their students arrive to the test on time and with plenty of time to locate the testing room. Late students will often feel anxious.
If the test is taken on a normal school day, the time requirements of the test will often create a disruption to the student's usual school day. Arrival, lunch, and dismissal times can change for testing day. Parents can decrease student anxiety by calmly discussing time requirements and schedule changes with their students to ensure that students know what to expect on testing day.
Parents can also find out if there will be scheduled breaks during the testing schedule so that they can inform students of breaks. Knowing that there will be time for restroom, water, and food breaks often calms student's nerves.
Also, altered lunch schedules may create the need for additional snacks or a sack lunch. The last thing parents want is for their student to feel unprepared or hungry on testing day.
Go Easy on Breakfast
While nutrition is important, making a big production out of what students eat on testing day can create anxiety-ridden and sick-feeling children.
Many schools will encorage students to eat a large breakfast on testing day, and well-meaning parents will wake up early to create a gourmet feast for their students. Students, who are not used to eating a large feast for breakfast, will often experience a "sugar crash" right in the middle of testing. The large feast combined with testing nerves can create stomach aches and nausea.
Parents must ensure that students eat something nutritious to combat hunger and fuel their bodies, but they should keep it within the student's normal morning routine of breakfast. If a student eats cereal and bananas every morning as a routine, why change it because of a test?
Send a Snack
The timing of testing disrupts the student's normal school day schedule. This often means that lunch time is later. To combat the hunger created by the disruption of the lunch schedule, make sure that your student has a snack to keep them going. Send something that the student can eat while testing that is not messy and does not require a spoon.
Dress for Success
Parents must ensure that students are dressed comfortably. When choosing student's testing day attire, keep in mind that testing day requires students to sit in a hard school chair for several hours. Testing rooms may be too hot or too cold. Layering is always a good idea.
A Good Book Goes a Long Way
In some testing situations, students must remain in the testing room and can only read or sit quietly after they have completed testing. This may go on for some time. To decrease the possibility of extreme boredom, parents should encourage students to bring something to read. Parents wanting to go the extra mile can get their child a new book from a store or library and read the beginning few chapters of the book with their child the night before the test. This can help to relax the student before bedtime and also gets the student interested in the book they will read after the test.
Parents can ensure that their children perform well on the test by keeping the evening before testing calm. Activities should be minimized so that students are able to get a full night's sleep. Tired students will not have the mental clarity to perform well.
Attitude is Everything
Parents can set the tone for testing days by remaining calm and relaxed. Words of encouragement can be helpful. Parents can encourage students to take their time, do their best, and remember that they are not defined by one test.