Preparing for Standardized Tests (In a Fun Way)


It’s possible to make standardized testing a positive, fun experience.

As the date for standardized tests looms on the horizon, the classroom environment sometimes changes. Information is suddenly fired at students at rocket speed because . . .well, just maybe, something will sink in at the last minute, and a few more students will get a few more right answers on the test.

And who can blame teachers for doing so? With so much weight placed on standardized test scores these days, such frenzy is almost expected.

Yet, ironically, the more pressure students feel in regards to standardized tests, the more likely they won’t perform well. There are two primary reasons for this. Some kids shut down under pressure, while others try too hard.  However, with the latter, we get stuck in our left hemisphere, thereby increasing the chances of taking the test without the benefit of an integrated brain.

But we can easily change all of the above by making standardized testing a positive experience for everyone.  Here’s how:

1.  We present a different perspective of standardized tests.

We tell kids that standardized tests are a wonderful “deal” for them. After all, they don’t pay a dime for the costs to produce or score the tests, yet they get free feedback that assesses what they currently know. That’s it.

2. We hype the upcoming testing as if it were the Superbowl, and kids participate in similar activities.

For example, kids can do a daily countdown, such as, “Eight more days to Supertesting! Bring it on!”  Kids can also become cheerleaders, creating original cheers related to testing, and they can “produce” entertaining commercials that are then presented on test days.

3. Kids practice movements that wake up the brain, keep it alert, and integrate both hemispheres.

Such movements can include jumping, spinning, running, rocking, arm wrestling, push-ups, and cross-overs. Kids then do these movements right before the test.  They also practice movements such as neck rolls, nodding the head, and doodling Lazy 8s (an infinity sign) since these keep the brain awake while seated.  The act of chewing gum additionally helps the brain retain focus, which explains why many educators suddenly give permission to chew gum during standardized testing.

4. We provide good “brain” food and drink prior to starting the test.

Crunchy foods, such as pretzels, are considered alerting.  Foods high in protein (versus those with a high sugar content) are good for preventing blood sugar levels from rising and dropping suddenly.  And, of course, water is always the best drink for the brain.

So why not pass these ideas along to our kids’ teachers?  Even if they’re not receptive, as parents we can still do a modified version of all of the above at home.  And by doing so, we model how something that may have been perceived negatively can transform into something fun and positive.

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