How to Help Kids Successfully Prepare for Final Exams
Learn how you can help your child effectively study and take final exams in their public school, whether they are in elementary or high school.
While final exams once seemed to be an unpleasant rite of passage for high school students, they are now common forms of assessment for almost every grade level! With the rise of standardized testing in the attempt to make all schools equal, most elementary, middle, and high school students are required to complete an array of final exams during their twelve years in public schools.
While many children and teens manage the stress of finals through their own strategies and tactics, some students need a bit more support. Finals can provoke feelings of stress, text anxiety, and can also spike issues with a students’ mood and behavior. If problematic behaviors or signs of anxiety arise, parents can easily intervene to help provide their son or daughter with positive encouragement and test preparation support.
Elementary Final Exams
While many elementary schools often require students to take a final exam at the end of the semester or school year, many of these final exams do not actually impact a child’s grade; therefore, final exams at the elementary level should not be over-stressed or too greatly emphasized.
Final exams at the elementary level tend to be standardized tests that are developed by curriculum experts, and they are normally given in order to assess the teacher’s progress, the average student performance rate, in addition to providing test result information that can determine whether or not a specific student needs serious intervention strategies. As The Chicago Public Schools’ Elementary Standardized Test Preparation resource reveals, “Standardized tests are important and with new policies regarding retention and summer school, the stakes for the students have increased considerably. We believe students should be taught both the content area skills measured by the tests and also appropriate test-taking strategies to enhance their performance on standardized tests.” Normally, elementary school teachers clearly explain testing policies, guidelines, and procedures; therefore, the best support parents can offer for their young children is to be positive and encouraging.
As the Chicago Public Schools further assert, “We believe that there is a need to improve student confidence and attitudes about testing and increase their motivation for doing well on the tests.” To encourage young kids, parents can simply engage in a dialogue about the child’s feelings prior to a test. By asking a student if they’re nervous, or if they have any concerns or questions, a child becomes more aware of the upcoming test, while parents can interact with their child in order to provide feedback and answer questions.
Ultimately, children should enter into their elementary class final exam feeling confident, and they should not exhibit feelings that appear to be overly-anxious or nervous. If these behaviors occur, parents should speak with their child’s teacher as soon as possible to discuss intervention strategies.
High School and Middle School Final Exams
Most middle school subjects, in addition to nearly every high school course, require that students complete a final exam. In fact, most high schools today actually require that teachers provide students with a final exam, and even designate that a certain percentage of the final course grade is influenced by the final exam score.
As a result of this trend, high school students today face intense pressures around the end of each term. Similarly, as final exams are gradually more common in middle school classes, these adolescents also face mounting pressures around exam time. Oftentimes, as the final exam strongly impacts a student’s overall course grade, the final exam can even determine whether or not a struggling student passes or fails the class!
While many teens like to demonstrate their independence and authority, parents can still intervene and offer support through various strategies.
· Learn what your child’s weakest subjects are. Keep track of your child’s progress reports and report cards, and if you find that they are consistently performing poorly in a specific class, then intervene to help them master the subject material. You may need to spend time each day helping them understand the concepts they learned in class, send them to a tutor, or work with their teacher in scheduling after-school help. Perhaps your child can join a “study group” with other students from the class.
· Make studying rewarding. While final exams are a serious matter, you can make the studying process fun and rewarding for your children. After they have studied for a few hours, then you can perhaps treat them to a “break” at the local ice cream shop.
· Be pro-active in their studying. Each child’s need for parental involvement may be different, but you can always be pro-active in helping them study. For example, you can give them pop quizzes based upon their study materials. You can also help them organize their studying process, which is certainly very beneficial for younger students. Show them how to highlight important parts of their notes, give them sticky notes to use as placeholders for important textbook material, and encourage them to create study sheets. This involvement will build study habits that will benefit them for years to come.
Keep in mind that many teens often reject various forms of parent involvement or support, as many teenagers often want to demonstrate various forms of rebellion and autonomy. Parents should be aware that a teen’s refusal to cooperate can be overcome by meeting with the teen’s teacher. Teachers can often provide parents with studying tips and techniques, and they can also inform parents about extra-curricular tutoring or help sessions.
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