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NYC Helpline: How To: Work with Students' Families

Preparing Families to Work with Children for Standardized Tests
by Linda Mandracchia

Can you feel it?  It’s all around--it’s in the air, it’s everywhere. The pressure and anxiety associated with the standardized tests are overwhelming not only for you as the classroom teacher, but especially for your students who are also being pressured by their parents at home.

Our students need to be well-prepared, that’s true, but they also need to not be stressed when faced with the test.  Here are some tips and guidelines that might be useful for your student’s families to reduce some of the anxiety at home.

As you might be preparing a packet of materials for your students to take home to complete over the winter break, a letter to the families with some suggestions could be included.  Here is a sample of the letter to attach to your packet.


Dear Families of Class ________

As you know, in January your child will be taking the state exam in ELA.  I am sending this packet to be completed over the break.  Some ways you can help your child prepare for this exam are:

  • Provide a quiet space for your child to work.  This will help him/her get used to the testing environment in school.
  • Sit with your child and divide out the pages.  Ideally, they should not do more than one page a day.  Set aside a time each day when they can work on their packet.
  • Try not to spell words or read hard words for them.  Encourage them to do their best, because on the test no one will be able to help them.
  • Talk to your child about other books they are reading--ask them to tell you a little bit about it in a non-threatening way, just through a conversation.
  • Create a peaceful environment so that your child will not have anxiety about the test.  Remember, our children can pick up on our own anxieties.
  • Encourage regular reading and writing and discussion about books.  Try not to put all the emphasis on this one test.

Enjoy the holidays and the time off.  Much peace in the New Year.  See you in ’07.

Ms. Mandracchia


As you get closer to the test, the anxiety level of you, your students, and their parents will increase. Try not to overwhelm your student’s with lots of homework. Give them some test prep each night, but not pages and pages every night. 

The night before the test, try to not give any homework. Have all children copy into their planner, or you write it for their homework, the following:


  1. Relax--go out and play for a little while
  2. Go to bed early
  3. Get up on time and either get to school on time to eat a good breakfast or have a good breakfast at home.  (Try to encourage a healthy breakfast, not one filled with sugar. They need some protein to sustain them.  I always tell my students orange juice is brain food).

Repeat for each night before the exam, especially if the tests runs for three days.  Remember, we not only want our students well-prepared academically, but we want them emotionally prepared as well, and to be alert and not exhausted so they can do their best.

See also: Tips for Parents - How to Help Your Child Prepare for the ELA by  Lamson Lam



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