If you have a child in third grade or older, he is probably smack dab in the middle of standardized testing this month. Kids have been told how important the tests are and to do their best. Schools are required to do these tests for funding and as part of teacher evaluations. And a small part of you might want to know how your little guy’s doing in relation to other kids their age.
Know going into this, visual kids might not score well and that’s okay! Standardized tests are designed to measure a small part of your child’s ability- tests measure the kind of skills and knowledge that happen in left side of the brain – everyone has those skills, but for some visual kids those skills may not be very strong. And what they are good at is not going to show up on a test. All of this to say testing may induce some anxiety and….
What can you do at home to take some of the stress out of testing time?
- Get a good night’s sleep– Lack of sleep is known to cause poor attention, lower grades, school absences, poor social interactions, irritability and crankiness. Test taking is stressful enough without being tired and irritable from lack of sleep the night before. Elementary aged kids need 10-11 hours per night while teenagers need 8.5-10 hours.
- Eat a good breakfast- Protein-rich foods can lead to greater mental alertness. There’s nothing worse than feeling hungry and groggy right in the middle of a test. Healthy food choices on testing day include eggs, nuts, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Good breakfast combinations might be whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, eggs and toast with jam, or oatmeal.
- Allow time for active play- It’s spring! Get the kids outside to move around and get those endorphins flowing. Children who are active report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and a better overall mood. During testing, kids have to sit and concentrate even more than a regular school day, so getting out and running around the playground or participating in sports is even more important.
- Encourage drawing and other creative pursuits- All that left brain work that standardized testing requires can leave our visual thinkers drained and tired. Give them time to let their right brain work. Encourage drawing with How to Draw videos, let them loose with some art supplies, put on some music and have a dance party, encourage some Lego play. Just let them be creative with out limits for a while.
- Keep your opinions about testing to yourself- Keep it a stress free zone. However you feel about testing – don’t pass on to your kids. Keep it light.
- Maintain business as usual- Keep life normal. If they have regular after school activities, keep doing them. Routine is essential for visual thinkers to keep their minds organized and reduce stress. If they normally have after school activities, make sure they still participate in those.