I am not a fan of standardized tests. They stress out kids, make homeschool moms doubt their abilities, and do nothing to prove a student’s true worth. But, the truth is that, even as homeschoolers, we can’t completely ignore them. Whether it’s state-required testing, course finals, or college entrance exams, kids will eventually have to take standardized tests. So what can you do to effectively homeschool your kids through exams? My guest author today addresses this subject and gives some simple answers.
Homeschooled children typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. This is great news for parents considering homeschooling their children, or who already are, but just how do these stay-at-home teachers/parents do it? While it’s important to take into account the learning style of your child as well as the objectives at hand, here are a few nifty tips in order to aid in success during that next big exam.
Offer rewards and incentives
In 2013, the National Academy of Medicine released a report surrounding the benefits of physical activity on children’s cognitive development and academic success. Because physical activity increases the blood flow to the brain, it’s also boosting neural connectivity and stimulating nerve cell growth, which can lead to improved attention and memory as well as an enhanced mood and ability to cope with stress.
What better way to offer your student a way to de-stress, refuel and feel rewarded for their hard work than a play session? Whether this means running around the backyard for a half hour, heading to the park to play, or even taking a short, well-deserved trip to a local theme park, rewards should be a crucial part of preparing a homeschooled child for a big exam.
Keep your student well-rested with frequent short breaks
Allow your child to take breaks when needed, whether in the form of a distraction, nap or even quality sleep. It’s important not to overload your study sessions, especially when prepping for an exam. As the teacher, it’s important to avoid cramming a lot of work into each session, as your child will likely retain more information if you spend more time on each assignment to ensure they’ve mastered the topic. When they’ve mastered a topic, take a break! Studies show that during short breaks while learning, our brains are actually working hard at processing memories and making sense of what we’ve just learned.
The importance of being well-fueled
Ensure your child is loaded up with healthy food that can lead to improved academic performance. From fatty fish to blueberries and, yes, even chocolate, there are many foods that increase brain function and memory in order to help your child maintain a healthy overall diet while helping improve the retention of the material they’re learning. One study of 900 people showed that those who ate chocolate more frequently performed better in a series of mental tasks, including some involving memory, than those who rarely ate it.
So, go ahead, reward your child, and yourself, with some well-deserved chocolate. Remember to take breaks in order to allow your child to recharge and give their brain time to process and retain the material that they’ve just learned. Take it slow, mastering each subject bit by bit, before moving on to the next unit. And, as always, reward positive behavior and a job well-done, even if that means having to share a bit of your chocolate.
As a former teacher, Lucy Thomas saw how the pressures of studying and exam stress led many of her brightest students into suffering from anxiety and depression. Lucy is no stranger to this herself and has had a lifelong battle with both conditions. She now writes for a living and is trying to help educate others on learning and how to cope with stress. Away from work, Lucy is a mom to two small girls and supports a couple of mental health charities in her free time.