For teachers and students in schools across the country, the end of the school year not only means a summer break, but also one other major thing: Standardized End of Grade Testing! As a teacher, I dreaded these times! Everyone loves the end of the school year and is ready for summer break. Unfortunately, no one likes the pressure standardized testing brings to students and teachers! I’ve had a break from all the rigors of testing for a few years now but now as a homeschool mom and my kids are getting older it is time to get back to it. Now it’s time for homeschool testing again! There are different homeschool requirements for states. Many states (mine included) require some sort of standardized test to be given each year.
Giving a standardized testing to your child can be a bit overwhelming, stressful and scary at first. But, if done correctly testing your children doesn’t have to be all bad. Homeschooling gives us the ability to take the time to use these testing requirements to teach our kids how to take tests, without all the stress! Below, I put together some tips to help your homeschool testing experience to go as smoothly as possible!
1. Choose a Test Right for You and Your Kids
The great thing about homeschooling is that most states give a lot of flexibility in what test you administer to your kids. You get to choose the test and the grade level that your kids have been working at. If you are unsure of what tests to choose, talk to people! Ask your friends that have tested their kids before, or ask in homeschool social media groups, and get their opinions and information about the tests that they have used.
Many tests have online or paper and pencil options. You know your kids and what they are most comfortable with! Also, talk to them and figure out the format that will play to their strengths. This year, we are using the California Achievement Test. This test can be completed online or by paper and pencil, and is broken up into small sections. Also, it only costs $25 through Christian Liberty Press this year!
2. A Practice Test is Worth it!
If you or your kids have any nervousness at all about what their test will be like, go ahead and invest in a practice test. Christian Liberty Press offers a practice CAT Test that only costs $5. It was definitely worth it for me to pay $5 to be able to give me and my 7-year-old son peace of mind that the test we had chosen was going to work fine for us. Whether you do am official practice test or not, make sure that your kids know exactly what the test will be like. Most kids are a lot more nervous when they have no idea what to expect.
3. Read and Follow the Directions!
Testing for both the students and the parents or teachers is mostly about following directions! You need to make sure, as your child’s teacher that you read all the directions for administering the tests. Standardized tests have guidelines for how the it must be administered. Make sure to follow any guidelines so that all the test results will be valid. Also, encourage your kids to make sure that they read all the directions and that they do exactly what the test says. A lot of mistakes happen on tests, not because the kids do not know the answer, but because they answer the question according to the directions of the test.
3. Make a Testing Plan
After choosing a test, the next step is to make a testing plan. Look at the parts included in the test, and take note of how much time each section will take to complete. Most Standardized tests, like the California Achievement Test, are timed. You are required to complete each part in a given amount of time. However, there is flexibility in how many parts of the test you do at once and how many days you need to complete the test. Decide how much testing you think you child will do best within one day. Some kids may prefer to get it over in as few days as possible. Others may do better if you just do 1 or 2 parts a day until testing is complete.
This year, I made a spreadsheet that I could use each year to plan out how we will test. There places to check off each part as we complete it and a place at the end to write comments. This gives me a written log of what we need to do and later what we have done! Also, I can use it to write a few thoughts about what worked and what didn’t work well for us to help when planning next year.
Download your own testing plan for free at the bottom of this post!
4. Give them a Break Afterward
Make sure they know that taking their test is all they will have to do for school that day. They don’t need to take a test and at the same time worry about what other schoolwork they have to do afterward. Give them something to look forward to that they can do after they have worked hard on their tests. Then all their energy and brainpower can go into completing their test.
5. Talk to and Encourage your Kids
Make sure you talk to and encourage your kids that this is “just a test.” Tell them that this is just one way that they can show how much you have learned this year. Encourage them by telling them how much they’ve learned. Be sure that your kids know that you are proud of everything they’ve accomplished this school year, before they take their tests! Encourage your kids to simply try and do their best just like they do with everything else! Your kids can be proud of what they learned and excited to “show off” everything they can do on their tests.
6. Be Flexible
Be ready to edit your plan as needed! If your child struggles with the amount you planned for one day, spread it out a little more. Give your kids more breaks, if you see that they need them! On the other hand, let them keep going and do more than they planned, if they are motivated to keep working and are doing well. Some kids do better and would prefer just to do the whole test at once.
7. Do Not Worry or Stress!
Our kids will take their cues of how to respond to testing from us! If we show our kids we feel worry and stress about how well they will “perform” on their end of grade test, naturally, they will pick up on it. Then, they will then have that same worry and stress! Just be confident in what you have accomplished with your kids this school year! Know that no matter how your kids do on their tests, it is a learning opportunity for them.
Take and follow these tips and you will find that standardized testing does not have to be something we dread. Our kids need to learn to take tests without anxiety or stress, and see them as positive experience. Standardized testing will not be going away anytime soon. They will be taking ACT tests, SAT tests, and other placement tests for college one day! Tests will always be a method to measure of what someone knows. We need to take the opportunity now to teach our kids that tests really aren’t that bad!
Are your getting ready to administer a standardized test to your kids? What helps you and your family during the testing season? Comment Below! I would love to hear about your homeschool testing experiences! I would also love to help if you have any questions Comment below or e-mail me your questions as well!
Don’t forget to click below to download your own free printable homeschool testing planner!