You know that an achievement test won’t make or break your children’s education. You know that it doesn’t have to be high-stakes. And you know that the test results can give you valuable insight into how their education is going. But all of that means very little to your kids when they hear that ugly word test.
Tests are not fun.
If your children test well, then an achievement test means several hours of concentrated bubbling with short breaks. If your children do not test well, then it may mean several days of stress and a few hours of panicked bubbling.
While I can’t give you foolproof tips that will make testing fun—that depends on your children’s likes and dislikes—I can suggest ways for you to get the greatest benefit and more accurate results from your testing experience by ensuring that they go into the tests calm and prepared.
Preparing for the Achievement Test
Use practice test materials
Some achievement tests offer a practice test that introduces your child to the testing experience. They give a preview of the questions, the format, and the wording of instructions. By becoming familiar with the test, your children will know what to expect and won’t fear the unknown—at least not as much. Though not a practice test, the Better Test Scores workbooks also create familiarity with tests in addition to giving tips on testing strategies.
Get them on a sleep schedule
A good night’s sleep the night before will help children keep from panicking. A couple of weeks of good nights will help them stay calm in the first place. Try to stick to your sleep schedule, especially as you get closer to test days. If they typically sleep later, bump bedtimes up a few minutes during the week before so they have time to adjust and can get adequate sleep the night before exam day.
During the Test
Help them pick comfortable but confident clothes
Depending on where you test, you may not be able to control the environment. While you may think that taking a test will be easier in cozy clothes, that may not be an option. And if you want authentic test results, it may not be wise. The clothes kids wear can be just as distracting to them as they can be to others, even if they’re completely appropriate. They should wear something they’re confident about wearing in front of people. A favorite outfit may be a better choice than a cozy sweatshirt.
Give each of them a full water bottle
Most test moderators will let your children keep a water bottle during breaks. Pausing to drink during the test breaks keeps them hydrated, gives them a moment to regroup, and lets them breathe. They can go back to bubbling refreshed and focused.
After the Test
Stick around for a bit afterward
If your kids are testing with several other familiar homeschool families, after the test is a perfect time for them to unwind together. Some children may be exhausted, but others may need to release a lot of pent- up energy. Maybe you can set up a movie and snacks in the testing room or go to a nearby park as a group so they can run around.
Have a post-test pizza party
While most people recommend several healthy meals leading up to test day, everyone expects post-test meals to include the foods kids usually don’t get to have a lot of such as pizza, chips, and ice cream. So why not go all out and make it a party? Even if your pizza party is just your family, it will give your kids a chance to celebrate the end of another testing year and a job well done.
Do you have any other suggestions for keeping your kids cool during achievement tests? Share your testing experiences below!