Chicago mom’s tips for helping kids with the ISAT

ISAT (Illinois Standard Achievement Tests) will be given to students in grades three through eight in public schools around the state starting on Monday, March 3. ISAT administration continues through March 14. All grades take the tests in math and reading. Science is included for grades four and seven.

Here are five ways parents can support their test takers and help them do their best on ISATs and any other standardized test.

1. Sweet dreams, or at least seriously good slumber

A good night’s sleep is very important before any big day, but especially so before standardized testing.

2. Nutritious breakfast

My mom used to say that she was giving us brain food before a big test day, whether it was standardized or just a big algebra test. It was always something with protein, be it eggs or peanut butter on toast. A protein-rich breakfast will keep kids fuller longer and prevent the crash that can come with a sugary breakfast. And I have to say that there was the added benefit of positive thinking that this food was just what I needed for optimal brain function.

3. Smart spray

My child’s fourth grade teacher would walk around the classroom with a spray bottle and squirt it over the kids while saying, “Smart spray! Smart spray!” and she’d make sure that she got every single student with the imaginary spray. My daughter is no longer in her class, but we still reenact it. One variation that I like is saying “Do your best on your test” because standardized testing is not the only measure of smartness and there are many kinds of intelligence not reflected in standardized testing. A little confidence builder like this can be especially helpful for kids in younger grades.

4. Sense of calm

Standardized tests are a source of anxiety for a lot of people, parents included. Parents need to make sure not to pass their nerves or concerns on to their kids. Stay positive and upbeat and do not pressure them.

5. Unconditional love

Talk to your kids about some of their qualities that you adore and admire away from the classroom. Let kids know that they have your love and support, regardless of test performance, or anything else, for that matter.

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