It’s often a shock when you first find out that your child has received a bad test score. But whether you child’s scores have been slowly falling over time or have taken a sudden drop, it’s important to deal with the situation positively–and quickly–to fix the problem.
Steps to Improving Your Child’s Test Scores
1. Don’t Get Angry.
As frustrating as it is for you to see a low test score, it probably feels a lot worse to your child–even if he or she doesn’t admit it. (Hiding feelings about poor performance or acting like they don’t care is just one way people–kids and adults, alike–try to protect their sense of self worth.) As the parent, recognize that being angry won’t help and likely to exacerbate the situation.
Also remember that when you feel angry, it’s probably misplaced disappointment for your child–and disappointing a parent is something no child ever intends to do.
2. Talk to Your Child
Ask your child how he or she felt about the text, and if the score they received is surprising to them. Your child may be well aware that they are having problems in a particular area–and if this is the case, it will make it easier to know what specific skills need improvement.
3. Talk to Your Child’s Teacher
Arrange for a conference with your child’s teacher to get their thoughts on what your child may need to work on. It’s likely that your child’s needs will be given greater attention during class if the teacher knows that you are actively monitoring your child’s progress. Other factors aside, a parent who is an active participant in their child’s education makes it easier for the child to learn–because the child receives reinforcement at home for what’s being taught in the classroom.
4. Determine if the Low Scores are Part of an Ongoing Problem — or Just a Fluke
When faced with low test scores, the first explanation many parents may jump to is that the child doesn’t know the material. But it’s also possible that the child had a bad testing day because of non-cognitive factors such as not getting enough sleep the night before the test, not eating breakfast, feeling ill, a lack of general test-taking skills (such as how long to spend on each question or checking over their answers), technical difficulties with the test, or because the child didn’t realize the test was being counted. (Yes, I’ve seen this happen.) Or it could be a combination of these factors. Whatever the case–the more you can learn about what is causing your child’s difficulties, the easier it will be to fix the problem.
5. Devise a Plan of Action
Develop a calendar of action items tailored to what you’ve discovered your child’s difficulty on the test was. These items may include some or all of the following:
1. Have your child get more rest — a longer, uninterrupted, regular schedule will improve his or her ability to think and remember
2. Allow your child more opportunities for exercise — to improve cognitive ability, sleeping habits, and ability to concentrate
3. Make sure your child eats healthy, getting a good breakfast each and every morning
4. Have your child be sure to concentrate during class — to make sure they don’t miss any material
5. Review opportunities for one-on-one assistance for your child through the school
6. Consider getting a private tutor for assistance outside of the school environment
7. Take an active role in checking over your child’s homework and other projects each night — to make sure your child understands the material
8. Take advantage of learning softwarethat’s available on the market — it can make catching up on a variety of subjects both fun and easy
9. Check out free tutoring resources that may be available — some examples include your local library and websites like freemathhelp.com. You can also check with your state department of education to get a list of approved providers of free tutoring available in your community
10. Arrange for a study group for your child and some of their classmates. You can lead the group yourself or take turns with the parents of the other children. Alternatively, you can contact your school’s principal, PTA president, or parent liaison (if your school has one) to see if the school can arrange for a teacher or instructional assistant to lead a tutoring or homework assistance group after school.
11. Research home schooling organizations to obtain additional teaching and practice materials for the subject your child is struggling with.
Do you have more ideas? Have some of these methods made a big difference for your child? Let us know so we can spread the word!