Ask Reading Kingdom: What are the best ways to help children who test poorly?

There are many reasons for poor test performance (e.g., anxiety, poor study habits, impulsivity in considering the test items, etc.) and it’s important to determine which issues are most relevant to your child. Regardless of the source of the behavior, advice such as telling a child to calm down is not useful. It simply doesn’t work. It’s even more important to not lecture the child about the need to improve the tests scores and about any feelings of disapproval or anxiety that you may have. This will just add to the difficulties. Typically the key to change is to put in place habits that modify actual behaviors. To this end, the following can be helpful.

  • Ensure that your child has sufficient sleep. Many children, like many adults, are sleep deprived, with resulting negative effects on performance.
  • Help your child learn to space studying over days or even weeks—when that is necessary. Learning spaced over time is far more effective and efficient.
  • Discourage “cramming” the night before. Cramming often increases anxiety as well as interfering with sleep.
  • Review, with your child, old tests as well as homework assignments and see if he or she reads the directions carefully.  If this is not the case, practice this skill with your child.
  • Help your child recognize the different types of questions that appear on exams (multiple choice, matching, true/ false, essay), the strategies that are best for each type and ways to pace the work so that the time is used effectively.
  • Teach your child how to skip questions where he or she does not know the answer. One or two of these questions can capture a child’s focus and lead him or her to become anxious and waste time.
  • Meet with your child’s teacher and ask for suggestions as to what you might be done at home to help prepare for tests and improve school work.

The reading skills your child learns with Reading Kingdom will help them to test better in the future.  Sign up today for a free 30 day trial.