In many states children start taking standardized tests as early as first grade. With the help of the following tips, you can ease your child’s anxieties about the test process:

  1. Get the facts

    Find out the exact dates your child will be tested and which tests he will take this year. Check to see if the tests will be different in any way from the ones he took the year before. Once you know what’s happening, you can help your child feel ready for what’s ahead.

  2. Talk to your child

    Find out whether your child is feeling nervous and if so, why. Often children feel better when they voice their fears, so give your child a chance to talk about the process. If your child is afraid of failing or doing poorly, your reassurances will help him feel less frightened. Learning expert Annie Murphy Paul recommends an exercise called expressive writing. The morning of a test, have your child spend 10 minutes jotting down the many things on her mind. It’s a proven way to relieve your child’s working memory. Watch Annie Murphy Paul explain expressive writing and why it helps.

  3. Help your child practice

    If your child is familiar with the format of the test, he’ll feel more prepared. Ask his teacher or check your state’s Department of Education Web site for some sample questions or other materials that can help him get acquainted with the test.

  4. Take care of the basics

    See that your child gets a good night’s sleep the night before the test and eats breakfast that morning. Read more about how much sleep your child should be getting — and how much sleep helps.

  5. Don’t let the test stress you!

    While tests have increasing importance, they are just one measure of student learning. If you remain calm, chances are your child will probably feel calmer, too. Also, try to keep the process in perspective. Annie Murphy Paul recommends having your child make a self-concept map. In the center of the paper, your child writes me. From that central spot, your child draws lines out to the many identities he has: son, artist, video gamer, brother, smart student, soccer player, and so on. The idea is to help your child see that the test is not all of who he is.

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