Helping your Child Prepare for Standardized Tests

CRT, OCCT, TASS, Standardized test. These names sound so intimidating!
What is a Criterion Referenced Test, anyway? How is it different from a
“multiple choice” test that parents took as children? No Child Left Behind
(NCLB) has required that schools demonstrate that students are learning each
year, and most states have decided that this accountability should result in
some type of standardized test. The titles of these tests alone make parents
feel intimidated. “I want to help my child, but I don’t know how!” This is the
cry that many thousands of parents make every year. They know how important
standardized testing is, but they don’t know what they can do to assist their
child.

This article is designed to give parents simple ideas which any parent can do
to help your child prepare for the test. While there is no easy solution to
guarantee how well your child will do on the test, there are simple guidelines
which can help ensure that your child will do his/her best on the test.

1. Help your child know the content.

There is no way around it your child must know the material which is going to
be on the test. To do well on any test, standardized or not, your child should
know what is taught in the class. As the year passes, make sure you know what
your child is learning. There are many ways in which you can do this.

Look at your child’s homework. Check it for accuracy. Most teachers don’t
mind the parents checking the child’s homework and making the child redo items
which are wrong. Just be sure you are not doing the work for them! Many
teachers have complained about a child’s homework being turned in that is not
even written in the child’s handwriting! Parents, doing the homework yourself
does NOT help your child. It teaches him/her that they are not capable of doing
it, which prepares them to expect failure. If you notice your child having
difficulty with the homework, try to help them yourself. Getting involved with
your child’s instruction will always help your child to do better.

If your child still doesn’t understand with your help, consider hiring a tutor.
Many certified teachers or retired teachers tutor out of their home for
reasonable rates. Also, children in middle or high school who understand the
material are willing to help for not much money. Talk to the school or your
child’s teacher and see if they offer after school tutoring. Some may charge,
but it will probably be less than you expect.

If you are not certain what your child needs to know for the test, find out.
Call the school office to find out what state tests your child is required to
take this year. Most states give criteria online about what is required for
this test. Many states also will put former or sample test questions online or
made available to the public. Look these up and see if your child is able to
answer them. If your child needs extra study in a certain area, go to the
library and check out books.

2. Make sure your child understands how important the test is.

One teacher explained to her colleagues how a few years before, her son did not
like his teacher. He was a top student, yet when he took the test, to “spite”
his teacher, he missed every question. He scored a zero on his test. Yes, it
did hurt his teacher’s class average, and hurt the school’s average as well, yet
this score followed him and had to be explained to several scholarship
committees and college entrance counselors. As a teacher, she just assumed her
son knew how important these tests were, yet this was not true. Listening to
her speak at home, he had learned how important it was to the teacher for her
class to get a good score, but he had not realized how important it was to
himself.

Even if your child does not feel this way about his/her teacher, it is possible
that s/he does not recognize the importance of these tests. Many states are
working towards, and some are already doing it, not allowing a child to pass a
grade or to graduate high school unless they pass these tests. Let your child
know that you don’t expect perfection, but you do expect him/her to always do
his/her best on everything.

3. Make sure your child is ready on the day of the tests.

On the days of the test, make sure your child is ready. S/he needs a good
night’s sleep the night before the test. For most children, this means 10 hours
of sleep. For high school students, this means 10 12 hours of sleep. A
rested mind and body will help your child focus and do his/her best.

Give your child breakfast the day of the test. Many middle and high school
children skip breakfast, yet breakfast is really the most important meal of the
day. It starts the metabolism going, which includes brain function. They
should eat, but NOT overeat. Too much food, especially if it includes too many
carbohydrates, can put your child to sleep instead of waking them up. If s/he
is not used to eating breakfast, just a piece of toast or a cereal bar will get
their body going.

4. During the test, RELAX!

When the test is finally here, help your child to relax. Plan restful family
activities that week which will help relieve the stress. Take walks and let
your child do the talking. Invite a friend or cousin over for an hour or two
(but not too late remember, your child needs sleep as well). Make his/her
favorite meals for dinner. Many teachers give lighter homework during this time
for this exact reason. “Cramming for the test” has never worked and usually
has the opposite effect. At this point, if your child does not know something,
s/he is not GOING to know it, so don’t get upset about it. Just spend good,
quality family time together and help keep things relaxed.

Standardized testing does not need to be intimidating for children or parents.
Help your child know the content as the class is being taught, make sure your
child knows how important it is, ensure that your child gets enough rest and
eats breakfast the days of the test, and relax! If parents follow these simple
steps, your child will be on the road for success.