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Keeping Tests in Perspective

One of the common concerns from parents we hear in the Tutor Doctor office, in the school pickup line, and even at playdates or birthday parties is all about testing. We can certainly see where you are coming from – between regular testing in classrooms and standardized testing like ACTs, SAT® exams, and OLSATs, it can feel like your child is sitting for an exam more often than not. However, testing isn’t all bad and with a few changes in your perspective and how your family talks about tests, your student will not develop testing anxiety or extra animosity for exams.

Changing Your Perspective

“Testing is a tool,” says Nika Fouquet, Education Consultant at Tutor Doctor Santa Monica. “I think what frustrates parents the most is that they don’t view the tests children take as a tool in their educational experience.”

Testing, whether as a part of a class experience or as a standardized tool, gives teachers the opportunity to see how the child is learning and retaining the information. Scores are used not to judge your child (or you!), but to have the information to better differentiate learning for each individual student. This means that your child gets the extra encouragement or help to meet their educational goals. Without testing at least every once in a while, teachers and parents would never know if the information being taught is sticking with the student.

Further, testing is just one tool in the educational system. It isn’t the only tool, or at least it shouldn’t be. It is only one of the ways that students are assessed.

Your Family’s Approach

“Families should encourage students to do their best on tests and to take their time,” says Fouquet. “But parents should also assure children that testing isn’t the only way to show off their special talents or interests.”

Unfortunately, a family that focuses too much on testing can sometimes cause testing anxiety in children. To avoid this anxiety in your child, try a few of our tips for setting the up for success without making testing the center of attention or affection.

  • Know when your child’s test dates are so that you can give a little extra encouragement that morning before drop-off.
  • Be sure that you set your child up for a good night’s sleep and healthy breakfast.
  • Remind your child to “do your best” and “take your time.”
  • Remind your child that you are proud of them for reasons that aren’t academic. For example:
    • I love how you are so kind to your brother.”
    • “Your art project is amazing. These are qualities that bring me so much pride that we can’t test for.”
  • After school, ask your child at least two questions that aren’t test related before finally asking how they felt about their test. This shows your child (and reminds you) that the test isn’t the most important part of the day.

Give your child confidence in test taking by investing in time with our experienced Tutors. We can decrease some anxiety by giving students the preparation they need to feel calm and confident during exams of any kind.

In short, tests do not give us the full picture of a student’s potential, talents, interests or personality. Tests do, though, give us one way of making sure that educators are catching any areas of concern or accomplishment. View tests as one tool in a large toolbox and set your child up for success on test day. Most importantly, don’t make test scores the sole focus in your home.