Another school year is well under way and that means packing lunches, doing homework, and of course tests. And while tests may be necessary means of measuring a student’s progress they can still be the cause of a lot of anxiety and frustration in your home nonetheless. Taking a test can be a nerve wracking experience for a person of any age. However a big part of successful test taking has a lot to do with being prepared. If tests are a challenge in your home, try a few of these test taking strategies which are geared to help your child ace any test.
Plan Ahead – Some tests may only require studying for a night or two, while others may be much more extensive and require a studying commitment in order to get through all of the material. This is especially true if your child already struggles with studying. Whenever possible obtain your child’s test schedule ahead of time so that you are aware when the “big ones” are coming up. If the test requires a significant amount of study time (more than one week), create a schedule that will be comfortable for your child based on their ability and age. If your child is old enough to use an agenda, have them write down the dates of their tests on their own. This will help them to feel a sense of responsibility for the upcoming event and will trigger them to begin thinking about preparing for the test.
Assemble Study Aids – Assemble any materials or supplies that your child will need for their study session – books, notes, highlighters, pencils, etc. You may even want to create a study station using a desk or table in their bedroom or in a home office. Another great way to reinforce what your child is learning in school is to have them create their own study aids. Using materials that can be purchased at any office supply store such as the Office Depot in Owings Mills, have your child create their own set of flash cards or cheat sheets (not to be used for actual cheating of course). Or if they have access to a computer at home and are capable, have them turn their notes into a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation that they can use for studying purposes. It’s a win-win situation. Not only will they have good tools to use to assist them with their studies but creating these tools is actually a form of studying itself since they are repeating the information in some manner.
Quiet Place – Seek out a quiet comfortable location within the home. Remove as many distractions as possible. The only exception would be playing some light music or other soothing sounds in the background. Music can be an effective means of relaxation and help control anxiety if studying is a challenge for your child. If you live in a busy or exceptionally noisy home, it may be a good idea to seek out a study area outside of the home. A local coffee shop like Java Mamma’s in Reisterstown or a book store such as Barnes & Noble might be a great alternative.
Make It Fun – What is a child’s number one biggest complaint when it comes to learning? It’s BORING! As a parent I have heard this a million times. The trick is to make learning fun and engaging in a way that they do not realize they are learning. This is the basic premise behind most educational shows like Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer. Put your awesome imagination to use and help create a way for your child actively engage in the learning process.
Use Real World Experiences – One of the best ways to reinforce your child’s study habits is to use practical applications for the skills that they are learning. For example, if your child is currently learning math facts such as addition or subtraction, take them to the store with you and have them add the cost of your items together or if paying by cash, have them count out the money to hand to the cashier. Children are more likely to become engaged in their own learning if the learning is hands on. This is particularly true if they are learning a skill that can help them become more independent like tying their own shoes.
Feed Your Brain – It is a proven fact that a healthy well-functioning body is fueled by what you put in it. It is important to feed your brain healthy nutritious foods so that you are able to feel alert and focused throughout the day. It is not uncommon for children who are malnourished, or under nourished, to fall asleep in class or to have trouble paying attention during times of instruction. Unless you pack your child’s lunch each day, and even then children often trade their lunch items with other friends, it can be difficult knowing what they are eating when they are outside of the home. So ensuring that your child starts with a healthy breakfast at home is critical.
Good Night’s Sleep – A good night’s sleep is almost as important as the actual studying when it comes to acing a test. Be sure your child is getting a good eight to nine hours of sleep per night. That number should be even higher for most elementary school aged children. Stick to a bedtime routine, even for older children, and be sure to enforce bedtime specifically on test nights.
Give your child the support they need and encourage them to develop good study habits.