As a parent, watching your child go through the challenge of standardised tests can often leave you questioning how best to help.
Standardised tests are not exams that can be studied for. Rather, their aim is to assess skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life.
In Australia, NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) is a standardised test that all students must sit when they are in grades 3, 5, 7 and 9.
It is important to remember that NAPLAN is not about passing or failing, but about assessing learning progress.
Whether you’re an advocate for standardised tests or not, supporting your child through the days of testing is a great way to ensure they feel positive and capable during this time.
So, how do you help your child be at their best?
Before the Test
Have a Chat
Boosting your child’s self-esteem and resilience when it comes to being faced with a challenging exam can be as easy as reminding them of the power of positive thinking and a Growth Mindset! Often, children just want to be reassured that they will still be loved and supported if they don’t succeed.
Encourage your child with one of our amazing motivational posters – put them up around the house, or discuss them over breakfast. Not only will they help on test days, but every school day!
Everything Remains the Same
If you reinforce the idea that a standardised testing day is just like any other day, your child will start to treat it this way too. You want them to know that the big scary tests aren’t so big and scary!
Make sure you don’t place all the focus on the fact that they have a test coming up.
Yes, you should have a chat! But ensure that you and your son or daughter maintain their routine – and this includes conversations!
Talk about what they’re doing in their other lessons, what homework they have coming up, even who they played with at lunchtime.
If you treat the test like it ain’t no big thing, this will go a long way to helping them remain calm and curious, rather than stressed and anxious.
This one’s a no-brainer!
Make sure your motivated little bunny has a good night’s sleep the night before, and a healthy, nutritional breakfast the morning of.
It can be tempting to give them a treat for breakfast to put them in a good mood – but make sure it has everything they need to boost brain power! A healthy balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and nutrient-packed fruits and nuts is just the thing to get them ready for a big day of thinking.
During the Test
Help the Teacher Out
If you think you’re feeling a little helpless when it comes to helping out, imagine how your child’s teacher feels, caring for 20+ students, not just one! Your teacher cares greatly for their students – students with different learning needs and abilities who all deserve to feel successful and supported.
Offering to help out your teacher on the day of the test can be a real life-saver to them.
Why not offer to set up a table outside the testing room with some cut up fruit and sandwiches for break time? This way the students will be guaranteed to have a healthy snack and carry their brain power through to the afternoon!
Alternatively, offer to supervise a quiet activity that your teacher has set up for students who are exempt from sitting the test, or who may have finished the test early.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Helping your son or daughter incorporate mindful thinking and breathing techniques during the test can help them remain calm and avoid panicking when they come up against a challenging question.
Mindfulness can help students to:
- decrease stress and anxiety
- increase concentration and engagement
- sleep better at night
- recognise their emotions
- enhance their decision-making and problem-solving skills.
We have a number of mindfulness resources that work just as well at home as in the classroom!
While they won’t be able to complete a mindful colouring page, putting into practice breathing techniques, such as those taught in our Mindful Breathing – Guided Meditation Script is definitely something that can be done during a test. Help your child practise these at home to equip them to cope during test time.
Lunch Box Love Notes
I love this idea by @amy.balko! She gives her kids a little lunchbox love note for a little pick-me-up while they’re at school. What better way to remind your children how much you love them and how capable they are on test day?
Pop a note like this in with their first break food to give them a hug from afar. Pair it with their favourite (nutritional!) lunch food and they’ll feel ready for anything.
After the Test
Take Them For a Treat
Hooray! Your son or daughter has finished the test and chances are, they will be exhausted.
When you pick them up after school, give them a surprise! Taking them out for a fun treat or activity is just the thing to help them recover.
If you want to build the suspense, let them know there’ll be something special for them after school as you drop them off in the morning! This will have the added bonus of giving them something to look forward to during the day.
It doesn’t have to be fancy – it can be as simple as cooking them their favourite meal for dinner.
Have Another Chat
Having another chat with your son or daughter after the test is just as important as a pre-test conversation.
Make sure you ask them how they think they went, and what strategies they used to help them get through. Discussing the process after the test will help them feel more aware of what they have achieved, and this, in turn, will boost their confidence for next time!