Preparing Your Child for the PSSA

One week from today, students across the state of Pennsylvania will begin taking the famed PSSA test. Much like students, parents’ attitude toward this assessment can range from extremely laid back to overly concerned and stressed. Not surprisingly, the best approach is to strike a balance between the two. To that end, here are a few important tips that you can implement now and throughout the weeks of assessment.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILD’S PHYSICAL WELL-BEING

In order to optimize your child’s ability to think clearly, maintain adequate stamina, and remember to use strategies he has learned, pay extra attention to your child’s physical well-being.  Start by offering well-balanced meals that include plenty of protein. If your child typically skimps on breakfast, this is the week to break that habit. Wake up a little earlier so everyone can enjoy a relaxing breakfast consisting of highly nutritious foods that include a healthy amount of protein. The protein will provide a consistent level of energy. Avoid sugary foods that can cause a drop in blood sugar leading to fatigue.

If bedtime at your house is sketchy, this is the week to remedy that. Be certain that your child is in bed early enough to get the required hours of sleep for his age. Establish a set time for lights out and don’t deviate from it. Although an earlier bedtime than usual may take a few nights to establish, by the end of the week, it will become the norm and hopefully, during the weeks of assessment, your child will be used to tucking in at this earlier hour.

It’s been well-documented that exercise relieves stress. Be sure that your child has a chance to go outside and let off steam afterschool. Limit time on the computer and Ipad, opting instead for physical exercise that will reduce your child’s stress level and tire him out so that sleep comes easier. Assessments like PSSA can be very anxiety-producing in some children, additional exercise is a key way to alleviate that stress.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILD’S EMOTIONAL NEEDS

It bears repeating that your child may be feeling additional anxiety due to the upcoming assessment. Here are some suggestions to help your child relax before and during testing:

  • Monitor your own stress level. Often, negative feelings are contagious. Trust that your child is well-prepared and relax. Remember the purpose of the PSSA is offer a window into your child’s strengths and weaknesses. If a child does their best, accurate results will help the school design instruction that meets your child’s individual needs.

 

  • Carve out one-on-one time with your child. Perhaps you can read together, play a game, or go out for ice cream. If you sense your child is feeling anxious, creating a relaxed environment where he can share his feelings may give you the opportunity to listen, offer support and help dissipate the anxiety.

 

  • If necessary, teach your child some relaxation techniques that he or she can implement if they feel stressed during testing. These may include things like deep breathing or visualization.

 

  • Don’t insist on extra study or academic work. If needed, teachers will assign beneficial work. Often, students have no homework during the testing window so that they have time to relax and unwind. Trust that they are well-prepared and leave it at that.

The consistent attention to effective instruction and a focus on meeting each student’s individual needs, will result in test scores that are reflective of your child’s academic strengths and challenges. Maintaining a calm, consistent home environment throughout the testing window is the best thing you can do to support your child. Please join the conversation and share any insights or questions you may have.

Remember that schools across the state have provided consistent attention to effective instruction and a focus on meeting each student’s individual needs. Your child’s scores will reflect his academic strengths and challenges, providing both parents and teachers with information that will help drive future instruction.  Maintaining a calm, consistent home environment throughout the testing window is the best thing you can do to support your child. Please join the conversation and share any insights or questions you may have.

About Rita K.

Veteran educator and Certified Reading specialist, Freelance writer
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