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Monday, May 12, 2014

End of Year Testing - It's Hard!

I spoke with a mom last week about the emotional “ramp up” her daughter was experiencing with learning issues and testing. It was a painful experience for this mom to watch, the family to endure and the daughter to live through. 

This is the time of year assessments come in every flavor imaginable: SAT’s, ACT’s, AP’s, cumulative final exams and so on. For many of our kids with learning issues, this is a tense time. With accommodations the “playing field” can be leveled to a large degree, but anyway you slice it, testing is hard for most who experience learning issues.

Strong Self Esteem Helps
How do we help our kids build self-esteem so that no test holds their emotional future hostage? First, as parents you can help your student build strong organization skills and good study patterns. This will go a long way to maintaining self-esteem. If a “tune up” is needed in this area, seek out resources such as a coach or tutor to put these important skills in place.

Parental Support During Testing
What can parents do during test time to make a difference? Here are some easy support activities for parents to engage in during testing taking season. Many can also be done through out the year to build resilience for the “push times”.
  •      Encourage the Use of Strengths.  When studying for a test, have your student learn in the best way possible for them. Is this a time for flash cards or an oral exercise? Knowing your best learning approach is key!
  •      Praise the Effort, NOT the Result.  Many parents have difficulty with this.  Challenges can be very demotivating a students work is only valued for the end result. What would be different if your student got used to praise for trying hard?
  •      Encourage Study Breaks AND Brain Breaks! Help your student do something different, but active, during a break:  a puzzle, cook something or take a walk. Switching off your brain, as when watching TV, is much less productive.
  •      Slow Down the Learning.   Draw parallels with lessons in other areas in your student’s life. The cross referencing of learning and experiences forces the brain to work with material in ways that will help with memory.
  •      Pay Attention to Your Student.   At this time of year, tensions can run high. A sure way to lower those tensions is to help your student feel listened to. If your student needs to talk, put down what you are doing and look them straight in the eyes! This simple act of really being listened to will lower tension levels even though it has nothing to do with the learning at hand
Signs of Worry
As parents we want to know when we should step in. Here are few key times to press the pause button and check in with your student to see if testing has become to much.
  •      Your student is self assessing with numerous negative comments directed toward themselves such as “I’m so stupid.”
  •      Loosing interest in friends, family and activities in a way that is withdrawn from otherwise normal activities.
  •      Grades are lower with an apparent lack of concern.
A steady attitude with positive reinforcement for your student will go a long way to helping them get through this test taking time of year. Keep the focus on your beautiful child who, under difficult circumstances, is doing their best. Your constant support, no matter what that “best” is that shows up, is critical.  Honoring the effort, and the human that is putting forth the effort, is the best starting point for any parent!

Parents, do you have questions raising your child with learning issues? You can raise confident capable kids despite learning issues. Reach out for answers to your most perplexing questions today!

Becky Scott

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