Helping Your Child Relax for Test Taking

Helping Your Child Relax for Test Taking

Test taking is a stressful and unpleasant activity for most anyone. For a child who may not have experienced test taking before, what are some practical ways to help them relax?

Tips for Preparation

  1. Practice a growth mindset with your children. Help them realize that test taking is a measurement of growth from one academic year to the next. For more details about growth mindset, check out the work by Carol Dweck.
  2. Get a good night’s rest. There’s lots of brain research which shows that the mind gets rejuvenated with rest. Make sure your kids get plenty of REM sleep leading up to the test. They’ll wake up well rested and in a good mood. Starting with a positive attitude is half the battle!
  3. Eat a healthy breakfast. The brain is a well-oiled thinking machine and needs nutrients to help it run efficiently. Have your kids eat a hearty breakfast that will help sustain energy and brain power throughout the morning.

Reducing Stress

  1. Practice techniques that will give your kids mental clarity. Meditation, prayer, yoga, calm breathing techniques…all these methods give your kids a way to calm down and center themselves on the task ahead.
  2. Prepare the day’s outfit the night before. Figuring out what to wear in the morning wastes a lot of time and adds unnecessary stress. Lay out the clothes at the end of the bed, fold clothes on their chair, or hang them up in the bathroom so your kids are ready to go in the morning. Choose clothes that are comfy so they don’t get fixated on a tag or something itchy during the test.
  3. Set the mood with music. When driving to school, play music that is happy and upbeat. It’s difficult for anyone to be upset or anxious when they have happy thoughts in their head. You’ll be surprised by this simple yet effective tip!

Wishing you all the best,


Copyright © 2018 by GenParenting

How Parents Can Support Their Children’s School Successes

How Parents Can Support Their Children’s School Successes

Providing students and staff with challenging opportunities can bolster their confidence. This can improve their desire to excel when they experience success.

Writing a Novel

Our middle school’s teachers have dedicated themselves to promoting literacy in all subject areas this year because many of our students are not reading and writing at grade level. Our 7th grade teachers decided to have their students participate in the NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month last November.

Each 7th grade student wrote an 8,000-word novel about a personal experience, hope, or dream by completing the following steps:

  1. Research a topic.
  2. Outline the novel’s fictional or non-fictional contents.
  3. Write the novel in 30 days.
  4. Peer review and self-edit through feedback.
  5. Use the Hemingway software application for writing feedback.
  6. Professionally assemble the novel.
  7. Learn how to sell a self-published book at a local book fair.

Many students were surprised that they could complete the assignment. They also began pursuing more writing challenges that allowed them to be creative.

Expanding Rigorous High School Course Selections

We added a couple of Advanced Placement courses to our high school course catalog because some high performing students wanted these courses listed on their transcripts. Although we prefer our students take the early learning college courses, we want to ensure that all students have access to courses that nurture and showcase their skills.

Ongoing Teacher Training 

We sent our high school teachers to the University of California Curriculum Integration Institute to ensure that they integrate traditional academic subjects with career and technology education. One intriguing course was titled DiVinci Algebra. These courses include University of California approved content that integrates the common core standards with applied studies.

Student Support

A significant effort was made to ensure rigorous training for teachers so they could support diverse learners. In applying the material presented at the UC Curriculum Integration Institute, we decided to expand many of our counseling and student support programs to fully engage students.  By having the students monitor their college and career goals through self-assessment measurements, the students began taking more responsibility for planning their path to success. We also hired an academic counselor with a marriage and family therapy license to support the students’ social emotional learning.

Much success supporting your children’s academic growth!


Copyright (c) 2018 by GenParenting




Overcoming Holiday Brain Drain

Overcoming Holiday Brain Drain

Presents have been unwrapped, leftovers have been eaten, decorations have been put away…You have survived another hectic holiday season! So what’s going on with the kids? Have you noticed that the kids are cranky during and especially after the holidays? Are their brains now a mush and are they dreading the return to school?

The reality is that the holiday season is a major emotional roller coaster, especially for kids. Think about all the excitement and anticipation that kids have experienced during this time– writing a hopeful letter (fingers and toes crossed!) to Santa with their wish list, on-the-go activities like Christmas tree shopping and decorating the home, ice skating and drinking hot chocolate. Of course, there’s holiday shopping, attending traditional winter performances or recitals, watching new-release movies…not to mention the waiting and waiting for Christmas Day to open presents and the anticipation (or dread) of family get-togethers and holiday feasts!

And then everything comes to an abrupt halt.

What if the solution to overcoming holiday brain drain is moderation? Pacing your activities so that kids don’t crash from an emotional high would be a great way to overcome holiday brain drain. Here are some examples:

Practice the “Twelve Days of Christmas” Idea

In the traditional Christmas song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the true love gives one gift a day, culminating in the largest and grandest gift on the last day. Having your kids open one gift a day during the holidays will keep the excitement of opening gifts ongoing, but not over-the-top. Not only will they will be able to play with and appreciate each gift by itself one day at a time, they practice delayed gratification.

Reinforce an Attitude of Gratitude

Have your kids write one thank you card for each gift received, also one day at a time. Teach them to be genuine in their thanks, seeking out unique characteristics of the gift and of the gift giver for which to be thankful. Writing one card a day is way less stressful than writing a whole bunch at a time! Writing thank you cards gives kids closure; a clear, mental signal that the holiday season is ending.

Keep Up with Academic Activities

During the holiday season, continue the habit of reading for twenty minutes a day. Make sure your kids are reading a variety of non-fiction and fiction texts. Do they have a favorite online math game they like to play? Or perhaps there’s a particular science exploration program they like to watch? Or give your kids a bunch of craft supplies and let their brains get creative!

What are some other ways you moderate activities so your kids don’t get holiday brain drain?


Copyright © 2018 by GenParenting

5 Things Parents Should Know About Assessment

5 Things Parents Should Know About Assessments

1. Tests and Assessments Are Not the Same

A test examines a student’s knowledge, understanding, and skills to determine what level of learning has been reached. It generally results in a numerical or letter grade.

Assessments involves gathering, analyzing, and responding to a student’s strengths and misconceptions about their learning. It includes feedback to the learner and also informs the teacher’s practice.

An analogy would be your BMI that provides a number but not a health analysis or fitness plan. Sometimes we need a test and sometimes learning requires assessment.

2. A Standardized Test Is Just a Snapshot

There’s nothing wrong with getting an annual family portrait to provide a benchmark of growth. But in the classroom, assessment, using a variety of strategies presents a kaleidoscope of your child’s educational skills and abilities. Sometimes it’s okay to weigh yourself twice a year, but in order to monitor gain or loss you want to check your progress more frequently

3. Encourage and Acknowledge Progress

Children can become discouraged when they don’t get the score or rating they expected. So can adults, athletes, and accountants. With assessment it is okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.  The goal of assessment is improvement and small steps are important in reaching the big picture goals. It’s not about the learning gaps; it’s how we cross over them.  “I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.” Marie Curie.

4. Let’s Work Together: Stay Connected

All of our lives have ups and downs. If your child is going through a rough patch keep the teacher informed of their changing mindset, unusual setbacks, and setups that support improvement. Follow your child’s progress on your school’s learning management system. Talk with them and their teacher, their assignments/assessments, their progress, and what you can do at home to support your child’s learning.

5. Grades Don’t Mean Everything

Test scores and report cards do not represent the whole child. You know, the one with a wonderful sense of humor, who helps others solve problems. The one who works consistently and diligently may be more successful in life than another who studies 12 hours a day and gets high test scores.

What do you think? What would you? Any lingering questions?

Laura Greenstein, Ed.D., Author, GenParenting.com Guest Blogger, and Founder of the Assessment Network

Edited by Mary Ann Burke, Ed.D.

Copyright (c) 2017 by GenParenting


Avoid the Summer Slide!

Avoid the Summer Slide!

Ah…summer time. A time for sleeping in, swimming in the pool, playing video games, and sipping ice-cold lemonade! While a mental break from school is much needed and well deserved, you’ve probably also heard warnings to avoid the “summer slide” – the tendency to lose some academic gains during the summer. So, how do you keep kids actively involved in learning throughout the summer while having some fun in the process? Here are a few ideas for inspiration.

Read Every Day

One of the easiest ways to keep up kids’ academic skills is to read. Take a look at some of my previous recommendations about using the library in my previous article.

A little short on time? Need something quick at your fingertips? Or maybe you’re going on a trip and don’t want to pack books in your luggage? Check out these websites or download their apps to your phone. You can easily access interesting articles or watch informative videos. Then have your kids take the short quiz at the end (see the Dogonews, Newsela, Scholastic, BrainPop websites).

Scavenger Hunt

If your kids are feeling bored, invite some friends over for a scavenger hunt at the local park. Before guests arrive, have your kids write some clues for friends to follow. Then, set them free to enjoy the great outdoors!

Do you have older kids? Try this modification at the mall – Give kids a modest budget and set them on a scavenger hunt to make the best purchase (deepest discount) or the most items purchased with that same amount of money. You can bet they’ll be practicing mental math to factor sales discounts and tax percentages into their purchases.

Cook Together

Give kids some real-life lessons and teach them to cook a simple recipe. Share a favorite traditional recipe for some family bonding time. Read the cooking directions and have them follow the steps. Having guests over? This would be a great opportunity to use multiplication to double those measurements. Need to cut the recipe in half? Time to brush up on dividing fractions!

Which one of these activities will you try today? Or share your ideas in the comments below!

Enjoy your summer play!


Copyright (c) 2017 by GenParenting