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TestSMART: Parent Toolkit

Mother and son at Wangenheim Middle School
Testing 101 Resources

TestSMART: Parent Toolkit

When your youngsters sit down to take big tests, you can't be there to urge them on. But there is a lot you can do outside school to help them do their absolute best.

Early to bed: Sleep – insist on your children getting lots of it pre-test. It is a fact that rested minds are sharpest.

Noteworthy: Tuck a little note of encouragement into backpacks or lunchboxes. It's a powerful motivator for students to know someone has their back, no matter what their test scores.

Chef Mom and Pop: Your car won't go when it runs out of gas, and neither will children when their stomachs go empty. If there's no time to pack a healthy snack or grab a hot breakfast, try quick and easy fresh fruits, granola bars, cheese, yogurt, carrot sticks, or your family's own favorites. It makes a difference.

Do your homework: Know what tests your children are taking, what they measure, how to understand the results and how the data will be used. Ask your school for resources, like tutoring and practice tests. Find out whether your child qualifies for special testing accommodations and help him or her get ready.

News you can use: An easy way to prepare students to analytical thinking is to give them a page of the newspaper or magazine, and have them read an article. Discuss it together, what the article means, how the story was written, the strengths and weaknesses of the piece, the larger implications of the story. This is a great way to help youngsters develop analytical skills. And you might be surprised to hear their opinions on current events.

Read-in: You're never too old for story time. By now, your child is an independent reader, so try taking turns reading pages of a book aloud and then discussing what certain passages and concepts mean. For older students, you can share story time by sitting down to read your own books or magazines while they read theirs, and then share a line or thought from your own reading with them. It's a great way to develop language arts, and show that your family values reading and learning. Plus story time is a great way to wind down to an early bedtime.

Learn something new: You can help your students study for their tests whether they're in second-grade math or advanced physics. Look for vocabulary lists and chapter summations in their textbooks that you can quiz them on, even if you don't know the subject. Look for highlighted words and chapter subheads, and have your youngster explain to you what those concepts are. Not only are you showing important support for your child'seducation, chances are you both will learn something important.