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Parents Can Help Children Improve Tests Scores

Aug 21, 2010 | By Harvey Craft

Tests scores generally are the most important part or a student's score. Parents can make the difference between passing and failing by following a few easy tips.

Happy child at schoolSchool can be confusing at any age, but getting off to a good beginning is indispensable. If students get off to a good start, parents will have less trouble later on with unpleasant confrontations about school achievement. School can become a source of positive experiences instead of conflict.

Parents Can Help Children Develop Positive Attitudes About School and Tests

Children enjoy time with parents doing almost anything that's not work. Some of that time can be devoted to simple learning games and activities that stimulate interest in early learning. Simple games that exercise memory are helpful. Educational computer games are plentiful and many are beneficial to learning, although computer time needs to be monitored to prevent the development of a bad habit.

Almost anything a child creates with a crayon, pencil, or finger paint should be validated by parental recognition. For preschoolers, mistakes in forming letters or drawing pictures should not be corrected. Their efforts may look primitive, but nerve development determines how fast and how soon children can learn. Insisting that they do better may be insisting the impossible. Beginners are largely self-motivated and improve at a rate determined by neural development as long as what they do gets positive attention.

Parents serve as guides to the learning process by showing interest, patiently answering endless questions, and helping children observe and make sense of the world around them. The seeds of school success are planted early by instilling confidence and curiosity. Successful students typically have parents who supported the school, the teachers, and who read to children and encouraged individual reading.

When School Gets Real, Parents are as Important as Ever

Parent helping child with school homeworkNew students should not be pressured toward perfection. A few fortunate children can maintain high grades with little effort. Most will encounter problems and may be disappointed occasionally. A desire to perform well is healthy; intermittent setbacks should be viewed as opportunities to learn from mistakes.


A calm parent in the midst of early education can help establish attitudes that become internalized guides for handling future academic emergencies throughout formal learning. Stressed out parents are poor models for kids. Parents can help their children with test success by reinforcing specific skills.

  • Practice listening skills so that information presented verbally is at least partially retained. Parents help children with this skill by reading short passages and asking a few questions based on the reading. Parents should be supportive and not critical.
  • Parents should stay abreast of work done in class. They should look over materials to be sure children understand why they missed questions or performed below par.
  • Parents should have high expectations, but take care not to create stress by placing unrealistic performance goals on a child.
  • Help children develop the ability to follow directions by creating a game that involves completing simple tasks that require successfully attending to directions.
  • Discourage cramming for tests by staying current with test and quiz schedules. Children should write assignments down when able. Many teachers use websites to post lessons. Parents should encourage children to learn gradually to avoid cramming.
  • Teach children how to use context clues in to answer questions.
  • Teach children how to eliminate choices in multiple choice tests.
  • Don’t punish children for failure.
  • Fear of failure is stressful.This is especially important if it is obvious that they tried to do their best. Rather, get involved in correcting errors and analyzing what went wrong.
  • Some teachers allow students to retake a different version of a failed test. Parents should check with individual teachers.

Parents should obtain a copy of the standards children are responsible for in each subject so they can help with studying and pointing out practical examples in real life. Teachers should be able to provide standards or they are likely available on state department of education websites.

Children Should not be Defined by Their Grades

A graded test scoreDiscussions about school success should be conducted calmly. School is about learning and learning is about preparing to be an independent and responsible adult. Grades are unavoidable, but most people were not straight-A students. Most graduated without honors.

Always encourage best performance by giving recognition to success. Stress is contagious and parents should take care not to infect children. Attitude is important and can help students perform at maximum capacity. Parents can help maintain a positive attitude by being supportive. If a child feels that a test was not fair, there is at least a chance that it was. Get the details, look at the test, and confer with the teacher if necessary.

Tests are an unavoidable part of school life, getting into college, and getting many jobs. The earlier children learn test-taking skills, the better. Avoidance of test anxiety is best acquired early, and parents can help children with stress by treating education as important and involving them in fun learning activities at home. Parents should always be supportive and encourage best behavior and avoid punitive, disheartening reactions when children don’t perform well. Teach specific skills early and confer with teachers routinely.

About the author:
Harvey Craft
 is a retired educator and former principal, with extensive experience in teaching grades six through to twelve. He is NBPTS certified in Adolescent Science and now spends his time in educational research, consulting, and freelance writing.
Click here to contact or read more articles by Harvey Craft.

Tags : children, kids, parents, test scores, help, advice, education

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