A Game Plan for Reducing Test Anxiety
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Standardized testing is unlike any other academic test that kids experience. Since it's so different, I rec-ommend a little prep work. And no, I'm not talking about study guides and filling in little bubbles. Please go out together and play some basketball!

Arcade basketball is the perfect way to introduce standardized tests to your child. If you don't know of a place that offers arcade basketball, any hoop will do. Grab a couple of balls and start a competition. Set a timer on your cell phone and make as many baskets as possible before the buzzer goes off.

Most kids will have fun with this. Your child will laugh at the airballs, whether yours or his own. He will protest when the ball spins around the rim and flies back out of the net. He will run and rebound and repeatedly try to ensure his score is higher than yours.

Then, while you sit and catch your breath, explain how this activity is similar to standardized tests. Tell your child never to worry about the question he just missed. Instead, tell him to let that one go and focus on getting the next ones right.

Some shots in basketball are more challenging than others. For example, not everyone can make 3-pointers consistently. (I usually can't make them at all!) And then there are half-court shots and even full-court shots. Almost everyone misses those. Try them out just for fun. Only a very few people can get the ball through the hoop at those distances.

The same is true of standardized tests. They include more challenging questions that are like 3-pointers. They include half-court shots. Tell your child not to worry if he misses the hard ones. Most people miss those. Tell him to try again and get as many easy ones as he can so he can get that score as high as it can go!

When the official test scores come in, don't be alarmed. Even though the NPR (National Percentile Rank) goes up to 99 for the kids who can make full-court shots, a score of 50 is completely average. It's not a failing grade. In fact, you'll probably see a little NPR graph on your child's report. It will have lines at the NPRs of 25 and 75. Most students' scores will fall between those lines.

Remember, this test differs from others you may have given your child. The scores can be complicated to explain to a child and are hard enough for adults to comprehend, so you don't need to tell your child his scores. Instead, talk to someone who understands the report and can help you use that information to plan for next year.

Celebrate your child's strengths and take note of weaknesses. Those are the areas in which he will need a little more practice in the future. Is he low on computation? Maybe you need to place emphasis on helping him nail down those math facts next year. Consistent good practice can improve performance. A standardized test only approximates where your child is right now, not where he can be in the future.

Mama, if you are stressed about the tests, your child will be too. If you want your child to relax, you need to relax. Stressing out your student won't produce higher scores. It will probably do the opposite. So go outside and shoot a few hoops. Celebrate the incredibly awesome shots that went into the basket and assure your child that his best effort is all you ask.

Meet the Author

Jennifer Lont - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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