With the national test starting next week, stress levels are increasing in some schools and homes across Australia.
Children in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are frantically brushing up on their reading, writing, language and numeracy skills in preparation for the national exams.
Quite simply NAPLAN provides a snapshot of how students around the country answer a particular set of Maths and English questions one day in May.
Pressure has been mounting for children to excel, some schools to out-perform each other and parents to help their kids get the best results possible resulting in anxiety for all involved.
However there are steps you can take in the final days to achieve the best possible results.
Here’s 10 proven and practical tips you can implement to help you and your child not only survive but thrive in NAPLAN.
- Talk to your children
As simple as it sounds, ask your child how they are feeling. This is the best place to start as it will give you a good understanding of what you need to do to support your child through NAPLAN.
Are they feeling anxious about it? Are they concerned about the test results?
- Get familiar with the test structure
One of the best ways to help students prepare for NAPLAN is for students to go through a NAPLAN practice test.
This doesn’t mean they need to complete all questions, but they should at least read over the practice test to look at the types of questions and the style of the paper.
This helps students get more confident before going into the NAPLAN tests and also helps them become more familiar with the structure, layout and wording, so they don’t miss anything.
- Get comfortable with completing the test online
With online testing being rolled out this year, this will also be a significant change for many students.
If your child will be sitting the online version of NAPLAN its recommended they take the time prior to the test to complete some practice questions online to get comfortable with using the technology and submitting answers successfully.
- Plan exam time
One of the big things that most students struggle with in any test is time and running out of it! Often this is a result of not having a plan for how to use their time.
If you child often runs out of time in exams, a simple exercise you can do with them to help them is to go through the test components and look at how much time they have for each section.
- Discuss how to tackle certain types of questions
If they don’t understand a question, what should they do? Discuss how important it is to re-read the question first, before panicking and guessing the answer.
For multiple choice questions, discuss how can they use a process of elimination to give themselves the best chance of getting the answer correct, and run through applying this with them on a practice question.
- Practice brainstorming for writing topics
In the writing component of NAPLAN students will need to write an informative narrative or persuasive piece of writing and this means coming up with ideas.
To help students improve their brainstorming skills, spend some time discussing creative ideas in response to a practice question.
The idea here is to teach them the process of brainstorming, so when they are in the exam, they will be more confident and ready to come up with good ideas for their writing.
- Go to bed early
As basic as this is, getting a good night sleep helps short and long term memory performance, the ability to focus, decision making and cognitive speed – all things that can make a big difference in exams.
- Stick to your normal routine
Keeping your morning routines is very important as it will help normalise the day for students, particularly if they are feeling anxious or stressed. Act like it’s just another day of school and go through all the typical things you would do in preparation for a day of school.
The less you change about the morning the better to help your child arrive at school relaxed and ready.
- Focus on the process and not the results
Shift the conversation from the results of NAPLAN, to the process. Instead of focusing on results (which can make student feel anxious and impact on their exam performance) discuss with your child what they can learn from the experience.
NAPLAN represents an opportunity to learn how to get better at taking tests, to learn how to deal with and overcome test anxiety, and to identify areas they need to work on.
- Be positive
If your child comes home from the first day of NAPLAN and has had a bad day, be encouraging and transition the focus to the future. Ask them what can they do differently for the next day of NAPLAN to improve? Focus on what they can change, rather than what has happened.
It’s also important to help them get perspective. Even if they don’t do well, explore with them what’s the worst that can happen? They may have ideas in their head that are entirely inaccurate and speaking about this can help them find perspective.
About Rowan Kunz
Rowan Kunz is the CEO of Art of Smart Education.