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Things to Do to Encourage Kids to Do Their Best on State Tests

by Laura Roberts, studioD

Every year, state aptitude tests loom on the horizon for the nation's school children. Whether your child excels at tests or not, make her state testing week something to look forward to instead of a butterflies-in-the-stomach event. Go out of the way to create special surprises all day long, creating an environment that will positively encourage her to do her best.

Special Breakfast

Power up his brain cells with a nutritious breakfast to keep him going. HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends bananas or fruits for concentration. Add extra protein like eggs or breakfast meats. A fiber like a bran muffin or fruit oatmeal will “stick to his ribs” and keep him from being distracted by a rumbling tummy in the middle of his math test. Depending on your child’s age, surprise him with a small stuffed animal or toy at his place mat with a note wishing him good luck.

Less Stress

It may seem unlikely to suggest that young children could fight stress, but even young ones can pick up on the undercurrents in their environment. During the week of the state tests, be sensitive to what might make an impression on your child. Send her off to school with extra hugs, and end the day with 15 minutes of cuddling and reading time. A joint study by Virginia State University and Polytechnic Institute found that children experiencing household chaos and stress achieved lower IQ scores, so common sense dictates that children who feel safe in a stress-free environment perform better in educational activities.

Lunchbox Notes

Surprise your child with a reminder that Mommy is rooting for him. A simple message or drawing on his napkin will brighten his day. For an even more special touch, jot a note on special stationary and enclose it in a zipped plastic bag to keep it safe until he sees it. Sweeten the deal by attaching a loving note to a bag of cookies or package of Smarties candies telling him that he is your “S-M-A-R-T cookie” with a mnemonic: "Stay concentrated. Mark your circle completely. Always pick your best answer. Remember to recheck your work. Take enough time."

Reward Activities

Provide extra motivation for your child with rewards when she gets home from a day of testing. Put some dollar-store toys into a sealed container decorated with stars, and tell your small test taker that she gets to pick one thing from the “Star Store” for each day of her tests. For a less tangible but just as rewarding experience, make time to take your child to the park. By giving extra exercise opportunities, you further enhance her ability to perform to the best of her ability at school.

About the Author

As a literature and grammar teacher, Laura Roberts began editing in 2002, gradually expanding her nonfiction writing to include new curriculum units. In 2008, Roberts began publishing her “Ask the Savvy Bride” column connected with her e-commerce wedding store. She holds a bachelor's in English education from Robert Morris University.

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