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A Note From The Teacher

It’s Elementary! Preparing for Elementary Tests and Quizzes

The high-stakes testing atmosphere of public education is making every grade level far more demanding than when most parents were in school. While this has improved the quality of education in many areas around the United States, it also means that there has been an increased focus on regular testing, even into the lowest grades. Now it is not uncommon for kindergarten students to have spelling tests, reading evaluations, math fact quizzes, or color and shape drills in the classroom. While specialists argue with the age-appropriateness of these practices, the reality is that kids are facing tests regularly, beginning in their very first year at school.
Though you may not understand the why of the current educational system, there are things that you can do to help your child be relaxed and prepared as they make their way from test to test throughout school. By beginning good testing habits early on, you will help to encourage academic success as they grow older and more independent.
First, participate in your child’s education by knowing what your child should be reviewing at home. Early elementary teachers often send home word lists, numbers, math facts, or other basic knowledge to practice at home. Instead of putting it off until the night before, even young children should take a few minutes each night to review their information. By working a little each night with mom, dad, or another adult, young students learn that it’s just s important to practice their school work as it is their soccer drills.
Next, use the time you have available to do the work required. Need to sit and wait at the baseball field while an older sibling practices? There’s nothing wrong with young kids working with mom or dad in the car while they wait. While kids shouldn’t be doing extensive homework while riding around in a car (there’s just no way to adequately focus on the work, and the driver certainly can’t help or supervise), working together with a parent on practicing spelling words or math facts during wait time is a great use of time.
Not sure what to work on? Contact your child’s teacher with a note, call, or conference to set up a communication system so you know what to go over and when tests are scheduled. That way you can use your time effectively with your child and they can be more prepared and more confident in school.
If a test or quiz goes badly, it’s especially important with young students that you don’t over-react. By turning a bad grade into an opportunity for a screaming match, you don’t accomplish anything except to raise test anxiety. Rather, get a copy of the test and review each answer, both right and wrong, so that your child sees what they did wrong and can learn from the experience rather than be afraid of it in the future. They can know you’re disappointed, but create strategies for improving on future tests.
Give periodic rewards for hard work. If your child studied particularly hard for a test and did well or if they showed good effort all term, a treat can be a great morale-booster. Some ideas for you can be: allow your child to choose the family’s eat-out night restaurant, watch a favorite movie together, get a new book at the bookstore, have a family outing to the local park, or go see a baseball game together. Kids respond well to positive reinforcement, so be sure to use it wisely. Small family rewards often work best instead of grand promises of large rewards for hard work, such as family vacations, since over-zealous rewards add a whole new level of stress to your child’s desire to do well. Instead, kids love spending fun time with mom and dad doing fun family activities. Realistically reward true personal best effort, whatever that means for your child.
While the experts argue what should and shouldn’t be tested in the younger grades, your children are currently taking tests and quizzes regularly. Grumbling and complaining about what school was like when everyone was younger won’t do anything to help them in the classroom today.However, by finding out as much as you can about the requirements they’re facing and taking an active roll in their education you can help your child not be afraid of tests. Instead, you can teach them great learning strategies that will bring them far as they make progress through their academic career. You can help them embrace the possibilities of being the best students they can be!


Jennifer Cummings

Ms. Cummings, author, and editor of the Education and School Section, she has a B.A.in psychology and an M.Ed. in special education from Framingham State College in Massachusetts. She was an elementary teacher in Massachusetts serving both regular education and special education students. She has taught grades 1,4, and 5.

"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings.
https://imgsub.familiesonlinemagazine.com/uploads/2013/08/BOY-STU1.jpghttps://imgsub.familiesonlinemagazine.com/uploads/2013/08/BOY-STU1-150x150.jpgJennifer CummingsSchoolEducation and School A Note From The Teacher by Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed. It's Elementary! Preparing for Elementary Tests and Quizzes   The high-stakes testing atmosphere of public education is making every grade level far more demanding than when most parents were in school. While this has improved the quality...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids