A few weeks ago, my middle school son had a benchmark test at school. As many moms know, these tests are the practice run for the state-mandated tests that infiltrate all our minds come spring. My husband tells him he needed to study so he was adequately prepared. Right away, I responded with a resounding “no.” These tests rule the lives of educators, students, and parents alike every single school year, and studying just isn’t needed. But, that’s not the only thing moms should bypass when it comes to these tests. As an educator and more importantly, a mom, I want to share with you four practical tips for preparing your kids for the STAAR test.
Talk With Your Child
Of course, we always promote talking to your kids and letting them know you’re their safe zone. But, when talking about these tests, these conversations should be minimal in number. Don’t start each day with STAAR talk. Instead, take cues from your kids and let them lead the discussions. If they seem anxious, discuss scenarios, and remind him/her of all the hard work they put in every single day. This talk is where you remind your child that you do not put any weight on this test. Remind them of where they excel and that alone makes you proud.
Know Your STAAR Test Options
Please, oh please, talk about your options with a trusted, knowledgeable educator – not the mom in a Facebook group who heard from another mom that this test is…fill-in-all-the-blanks here. Find a teacher/administrator you know or who knows your child well. As a school counselor, I will gladly lend an ear and share the options that are true for your student. And if you notice your child’s emotions are heightened by this test, please talk to a professional – not the “experts” on social media.
Moms are in the business of worrying. This test should not be placed on that list of things that define us as parent or our kids as students. Don’t let them see you fret over this test, or they could feed off your emotions. Always make them that good breakfast. Always stick those notes of encouragement in their lunchbox. Always promote a good night’s sleep. Don’t explode these moments on a test day when the pressure is high for everyone.
Invest in School
Help them with homework. Encourage reading. Collaborate with the teacher. Don’t suddenly jump into these practices when the tests roll around. Those habits, when practiced year-round, boost confidence and enhance the entire school experience. Rushing into it late in the spring only makes this test seem like the number one reason kids are learning, and we all know that is far from the truth.
And you know the rest of the tips they share right before the “big” day. Get good rest; eat a good breakfast. But, more importantly, spend your days being the best mom you are. Encourage, be an example, and trust their teachers. Remind yourself that the STAAR test is a measure of them in the moment; not who they are every single day.
Best wishes to all our Houston Moms. And to our sweet kids, you’re so much more than a test.