In Texas, tomorrow is a big day for many students because they will be taking a standardized test. While this topic often elicits strong emotions, until there are major philosophical changes towards how education is evaluated, the best approach we can have with our children is to use our parental influence to help them cope and test to the best of their abilities. Below are some strategies to make testing days easier for any child.
1. Take it easy the night before. If there is ever a night to skip a practice or meeting, the night before your child tests is a good one. As much as possible, you want this night to be relaxed and fun. It’s not the time to inspect rooms, work on chores, or initiate any type of additional parenting strategies. Dinner should also include foods they enjoy avoiding any battles regarding cleaning of the plates. In fact, this might be the one night that food choices are healthy yet very kid friendly.
2. Start bedtime routines early to avoid meltdowns. If your child enjoys a relaxing shower or bath, allow them extra time and encourage them to practice any relaxing routines you’ve used successfully in the past. Back rubs and soothing words of encouragement and reassurance are highly recommended during tuck ins. Even for those who feel they are too old for bed time routines, sometime welcome the offer on nights when their anxiety might be a little elevated.
3. Intentionally communicate your confidence in their abilities and their efforts. They’ve prepared all year. When my kids express any concerns, I assure them I confident in their ability to do their very best and that’s all we ask of them. I am very clear that their score is not my main concern, but I want them to simply take their time, double check for normal human errors and do their very best. They may express worries about consequences for low scores and if they do, tell them you can see how they might feel that way but reinforce that you will help them and take care of whatever comes next. WARNING! Control your own strong emotions if you have them about all of these dynamics. Emotional rants and venting will create more energy in their minds surrounding the topic (save this for your social media friends.). Our job is to be calm anchors in the midst of their storms.
4. Prepare yourself for the next morning. Let’s be honest – I for one am probably not the only one who likes to hit a snooze button in the mornings. The morning of a test is one of the days we want to put on our super parent capes. Wake up early if you need to in order to prepare a healthy breakfast (if that’s not your thing, most schools provide free breakfasts in their cafeterias to all students on test mornings). Help them get our the door smoothly and calmly. On an average morning, you can find me sneaking in some dishwasher or laundry action but not on test days. I want to make sure those snacks are ready and water bottles get filled before it’s time to walk out the door. I’m all for independent kids who do for themselves but on test days I extend an bit of service to allow them to feel extra cared for. It’s also the morning I might have a “you are amazing” or “I love you” note at the breakfast table, in their lunch box or in their backpack. Click here a free printable of some test taking encouragement to share with your child.
5. Pray with your child and for their school. The night before I pray for rest and easy wake ups along with smooth mornings. With breakfast, I pray that the Holy Spirit would remind them of all they have learned and allow their focus to be sharp and their creativity to flow (writing test) or memory to work better than ever (math) and that God would guide them towards wise answer choices (reading). Times of testing in life are great opportunities to thank God for the work He is doing in their lives as they grow in wisdom, stature and favor with all (my favorite prayer based on Christ’s life for my kiddos.).Having been a previous school teacher, counselor, and the campus testing coordinator, I also pray for the staff, testing conditions, and overall energy in the building. I also pray for any of their friends I know have struggles in this type of environment. Sometimes I even send their teachers an encouraging email letting them know I’m praying for the them specifically and the campus. Click here for a pdf of specific prayers you can pray (created by Courtney O’Neal downloaded from Teachers Pay Teachers)
Any fun ways you encourage your kids the night before a test? I’d love to hear your ideas or how you pray for them in the comments below.