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Back to School, Back to Testing

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - August 17th, 2018

Our kids start back to school really soon (some of you have already started!), and it brings to mind a couple of yearly concerns for me–can we stay on top of our schedule this year and find a good stride and are my kids ready for testing that will most certainly happen? For the first part, I know that most of the success of staying on top of our schedule falls squarely in my own lap.  So I make certain steps that will ensure our success.  For the second part, I have limited control, but I can give them testing tips and set the stage for success, trusting that my kids can take it from there!

Staying on Top of the School Schedule

For me this all begins the night before…

  • I ready snacks, lunches (if they aren’t eating in the cafeteria) and clothes they will need.
  • I take note of the weather coming up–do we need umbrellas? light jackets?–and have those items at the ready in the front entry hall.
  • I fill out paperwork and add checks, is needed–placing it by my keys on the front entry hall table.
  • I write down reminders that I will need for the next day–my calendar is full of places I need to go and people I am meeting, so I make sure I have my own act together.
  • I go to bed early and wake early.

My kids are older, and I am not really a morning person either, so I make sure they have breakfast foods they can prepare themselves and that they clean up after themselves before they leave.  We allow no technology in the morning.  They can read or sleep a little longer, but they need to be ready to be out the door by 7:50 am, so everyone will arrive to their designated places on time. Then we hit the door running.  Often I leave the radio off in the car, and ask about their day, concerns they have and any other bits I need to know (friends coming over after school, various extracurricular activities and the schedules for those, etc.).  Sometimes I then play a fun song they love to sing-along to–Imagine Dragons is their current favorite with Weird Al, running a close second.  As they head out of the car, I wish them a good day and remind them that I love them.  It sets the temperature for the day.  They are happy and ready to go!

Readying My Kids for Testing

Listen, I was NOT a good test taker.  Generally a written or oral test suited me better than multiple choice.  I panicked, as well, with butterflies in my stomach, nearly making me sick.  So it seems right for me to make sure my kids do not follow in my patterns for this.  I remind them that it’s just another day and no big deal.  Truly, this was the reason why I tested so poorly.  I hated to fail.  And it seemed like such a big deal at the time.  Perhaps for you, it IS a big deal.  Something important may be at stake for your son or daughter.  Take my advice and play it down, make it fun and teach them to take any nervous energy and run with it.  No seriously, have them go for a run! Somehow, using that energy in a positive way, like exercise, is forward momentum for test-taking.

Here are the best tips Karen Quinn gives in test taking.

Most Common Test Taking Mistakes Very Young Children Make, Pt 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Most Common Test Taking Mistakes Older Children Make

The most important ones for me and my kids are about listening well and slowing down.  We are a competitive family, and that doesn’t play so well in the test taking classroom.  These tips will really make a difference!

Also knowing WHAT tests are going to be happening in your school.  I asked our Testing Mom parent success team about what tests they are currently hearing about at the beginning of this school year.

Here are the ones they mentioned:

Taking time to know what the test is, what it means for your child and even just knowing a few tips about how it is offered and what questions might be similar are actually winning strategies for your family.  Knowing this also alleviates those nerves, so your child can feel prepared and calm about it.  That will make for a focused success.

Sometimes, during pickup after school, I will hear that they had a test and were sure they failed it.  This is when we break down our own children’s struggles. Ask them why they think they failed.  Ask them what made the test so challenging.  Then teach them about how to get back up and at it after a struggle.  It’s all part of parenting, and just as important as setting up the day is teaching them how to wind back down in a loving environment that says, “It’s Okay to Fail.  Let’s Try Again Tomorrow.

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