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Ilana Danneman
BY Ilana Danneman

Seven Test Taking Tips for your Child with Special Needs

Will your child be taking standardized tests this spring? I don’t know about you, but I remember test taking in school. It still makes my stomach hurt. Our children are exposed to test taking from a very early age. Tests can induce a barrage of responses from anxiety, to sleeplessness, to outbursts to lack of appetite. Having a few great tips for test taking can minimize anxiety levels and really give your kids an edge on being a great test taker. Lets take a look:

1. Minimize test talk

My biggest concern with test taking is the impact from parents and teachers who are overly concerned with testing. This filters down to children and can really send across the wrong message.

We want great learners. Testing has its place, but be sure that your conversations are centered on learning more than test taking. Remind them that test taking is not always an indication of how much they know but how well they express their knowledge and follow directions. It is also an indicator as to how well their teacher and school prepared them, so it is a test for the school too and they are helping their school be a better school by doing their very best. With that said, testing is a part of school and an ounce of preparation can go far.

2. Prepare

If your child has regular tests or needs help with test preparations, help them set up a schedule to spread out the preparation so they are doing a bit each day and not cramming the night before. This is a great lesson for life in general and can not only minimize stress but also really impact how well they perform. It also teaches them organizational skills and responsibility.

In addition, preparing the day of a test, with a good breakfast and some swing, exercise or heavy work can really improve their mood and ability to perform with focus and attention. Make sure your child goes to the test prepared with pencils, erasers, paper and a pencil topper as well!

3. Comfort Zone

Is the testing area conducive to test taking? Sit down and talk with your teachers if your child has particular needs. Do they need a carrel, wiggle cushion, weighted vest or headphones to perform better? Maybe a timer would help them stay on task? All of these can make a difference in comfort and thus in performance.

4. Take Your Time

Remind your child to fill in bubbles properly, read direction carefully, read questions carefully, thinking of the answer first, and to review all answer choices from their own answer.

5. Get Up and Move

Find out if your child will get a sensory or movement break. Encourage the school to allow these for your children. Even a walk to the bathroom in-between sections can make a difference as can a few jumping jacks or chair pushups.

6. Sleep Tight

Make sure your children get a good night sleep the night before a test. Eliminate screen time, video games, sweets and caffeine the night before. A warm bath can help as well. If your child benefits from weight or pressure, a weighted blanket may just do the trick.

6. Funny can be functional

Tell your child a joke on the way to school. Watch a funny video the morning of the test. Remind them of something funny you both experienced. Get their mood up! An elevated spirit can really make a difference and put things into the proper perspective.

Ilana Danneman

Written on April 6, 2015 by:

Ilana Danneman is a pediatric physical therapist with over 25 years experience in the special needs field developing 100's of products, blogging, providing customer education, and catalog direction. She has worked for both School Specialty and Fun and Function and currently is a contract blogger and product developer as well as home health pediatric and geriatric physical therapist. She is currently the owner of the idea therapist and can be reached at [email protected]
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