17 July 2008 09:11 AM

Surviving the SATs/ACTs Continued...

by Dr. Rick
For Parents:

There’s plenty you can do to help your kids do well on these tests. The first thing to remember is that if you’re stressed, they will be, too. Calm down.

1. Start early. I just told your kids to start early. I’ll tell you the same thing, except your role starts way earlier than theirs. Yours starts as soon as kids start school. Help them develop those study habits, test habits and “habits of mind” that will stay with them throughout school and into Real Life. Give them reliable and steady homework routines. Be good role models, letting them see you reading and doing math in your real-life adult lives. Show them you value learning.

2. Reward and penalize. Set goals with your teens, then reward them when they reach those goals. Set rules about what happens when they don’t reach the goals. Make sure they understand the rules. The best penalty is temporarily to take away something that your teen really, really enjoys like the cell phone or music for an evening. Dr. Ruth Peters, child psychologist and education consultant to NBC’s Today Show, advocates taking away electricity – anything that plugs in or runs on batteries! The best reward is just the opposite: extra time with the phone or music, or better still, alone time with you, doing something fun and memorable.

3. Communicate with the folks at school. Get to know your teen’s teachers and guidance counselors, coaches and adult leaders. Ask their perspectives about how your child is doing in school, on teams, in clubs. Share your concerns, hear their praise and suggestions.

4. Know the test dates. Help your teen prepare for the SAT or ACT by encouraging him (insisting on it) to study early and regularly. Don’t fall for the “I’ll-start-tomorrow-nobody-else-has-even-started-yet” con job. For everyone to see, set up a calendar that shows the test date and the time left to prepare.

5. Get help early. If your teen asks for help, if his teachers recommend it, get it early enough for it to make a difference. Get a tutor, enroll in a test prep program, get help from a National Honor Society student, or get a recent successful test-taker to help.

Finally, students and parents, remember that these assessments are merely one criterion out of many that schools use to determine their acceptance lists. If any school tells you it makes its decisions solely on the test, find another school. They’ll also be interested in your extracurricular activities – are you on sports teams, write for the school paper, take pictures for the yearbook, help with the school play, play in the school band, sing with the choir? Do you spend some community service time with your church, temple, mosque? Are you a member of community groups? Do you help out at home?

In other words, don’t put all your efforts into one event, the SAT or ACT. Do your best all year, trust yourself, be active in lots of things you enjoy, and move on. If you’ve paid attention to these suggestions, you should be in pretty good shape. Good luck!




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