Yes, I am talking about slowing down again. As the days get warmer, they also get longer. Bedtimes are delayed little by little each night by the sun’s excitement to stay up later. She asks us to play and fools us into thinking 8 p.m. is really 6 p.m. Each morning arrives too quickly and busses and school bells are almost missed. By this point, we are just ready for summer. If you work or volunteer in a school, it’s quite apparent that attention spans are shortened. Unfortunately, the reality is the end of the school year is often the most important. This is the time to slow down.
EOGs. MAPS. TRC. Finals. Tests, tests, tests, and more tests. We have entered into testing season. For most kids, they are in the middle of test prep which involves practice tests and review. It’s the time when they are evaluated for next year’s placement. It’s the time when we really need to make sure we are communicating with our kids and making sure they are adhering to their routine. The finish line is in sight! They just need our encouragement.
When my son was in third grade, I entered into his room one night expecting him to be asleep. I was sneaking in for one last quiet kiss. It was late and I didn’t expect him to be awake. He said he couldn’t sleep because he was worried about passing the third grade. This is the first year students have to take this exam, and the EOGs can stir up an anxiety they have never experienced before. Fourth quarter is pretty much all about review and preparation for end of grade testing. While my son had no real reason to worry about passing, this test had manifested into a huge dark cloud over his head.
So what can we do as parents? While I would like to protest the amount of testing that is given, I’ll leave that for another discussion. For now, I can offer advice as a parent of a seventh and a fourth grader. I have learned that communication is key. While you don’t want to plant the seed of worry in their heads, you definitely want to make sure they are not harboring anxiety. I had no idea my son was stressing about his EOGs. If I hadn’t walked into his room that night, would he have shared his worry with me? I have learned not to assume that everything is okay just because they don’t bring up any concerns.
It’s important that we slow down this time of year and not get too caught up in thinking about summer camps and vacations. They are there waiting for us. Until then, it’s important that bedtime routines stay the same. Sleep is essential to performing well. During a recent discussion with my son, he asked why he had to go to bed at a certain time. He added that his friends go to sleep after 11 p.m. I explained how focus, retention, and patience all relate to adequate sleep. Additionally, those late night hours are often unproductive hours.
Slowing down is also important. I have seen both of my kids not do as well as they should have because they rushed through an exam. Remind your kids to read questions carefully, as well as all of the answers. It’s also helpful to review tricky ways questions can be asked using words like “none of the above” or “which answer is not correct?” The key is taking adequate time to read the text. While many of the end of year tests are electronically graded, during the year students often have to show their work which requires them to slow down as well.
While there is a fine line between talking about testing and talking about it to the point of adding additional anxiety, practice does calm nerves. If you child is new to taking tests like the EOGs, you can practice with them using old EOG exams located at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/testing/eog/. As much as kids want summer to arrive, it doesn’t arrive any faster by rushing through end of year assignments and tests. Fourth quarter is just as important as all the other quarters, perhaps even more important.
Now to take my own advice and print out some EOGs…