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Published May 02, 2012, 11:30 PM

Help kids with end-of-year testing

End-of-year testing is now upon us and it can be one of the most stressful times of the year for our children. Navigating not only the curriculum but also friends’ and parents’ expectations can be tough, especially as most testing is not set up with your child’s sensory learning style in mind.

By: Priscilla J. Dunstan, McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT), INFORUM

End-of-year testing is now upon us and it can be one of the most stressful times of the year for our children. Navigating not only the curriculum but also friends’ and parents’ expectations can be tough, especially as most testing is not set up with your child’s sensory learning style in mind. Being aware yourself can help make the experience a more pleasant and productive one.

Tactile children can find sitting still for the length of the exam difficult. They often are the children getting into trouble for fidgeting, rocking in their chair or swinging their legs back and forth. This movement is their way of recalling information, but can be disruptive to other students. Give them a squash ball or a small bean bag that they can hold in their hand and squeeze to help with their fidgeting. Try to get them to school a bit earlier so they can run off excess energy before the exam and ask if the school could allow for some outside play in between back-to-back exams.

Auditory children will inadvertently start to tap patterns or hum to themselves when trying to recall facts and figures. The auditory rhythm is a compensatory mechanism that helps your auditory child to organize their thoughts when they are not able to speak them. They will often find having to read a passage quietly in their head hard, as it prevents them being able to hear the question, so it’s not unlikely for them to get in trouble for speaking or tapping. To help with this, put erasers on their pencils to make the tapping softer and encourage them to tap rhythms out on their arm or leg instead of the desk

Visual children will have the advantage over the other children, as they are often in their element during test taking. The visual nature of written tests makes it much easier for them to understand and answer the questions. And as visual distractions are removed, their focus is on one thing; the paper before them. However, this doesn’t mean that test day is not stressful. Visual children are sensitive to others’ opinions of them, so they can put extra pressure on themselves to succeed.

Taste and smell children don’t tend to do well in any stressful situations. The excess emotions and the nervousness of their classmates affect them in a very personal way. It is best to make light of the examination process, explaining it as an indicator to make sure their teacher has taught them well, rather than on what they know. Have a treat planned for after school, such as an ice cream or a favorite type of cupcake, to reward them for a day well spent.

We can all remember the nervousness associated with end-of-year tests, so it’s important to be supportive. Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast to give them their best start to the day.

Priscilla Dunstan, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language, is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of “Child Sense.” Learn more about Dunstan and her parenting discoveries at www.childsense.com

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