4 Simple Ways to Start Standardized Testing Day

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4 Simple Ways to Start Standardized Testing Day
4 Simple Ways to Start Standardized Testing Day

The alarm buzzes on the alarm clock of my life: “Standardized testing time!” I search desperately for a snooze button, to no avail. It’s time. Put on your big girl panties, your sparring gear, and your supermom cape (in that order, or you’ll look ridiculous). Time to show what they know.

Good schools and better teachers have armed us with ways to be helpful parents. The kids should:

  1. Be well-rested
  2. Eat a nutritious, protein-filled breakfast
  3. Arrive on time to school
  4. Relax

I have come to believe all 4 of these items are mutually exclusive. Having said that, I really have every intention of pulling this off each year, and 2015 is no different.

7:30 AM– They couldn’t fall asleep last night, because they were fired up over the test; so I have to make up time in the air. I can’t wake them up early, or I undermine goal #1 Be well-rested. I let them sleep as long as I think they reasonably can. No need to stir them just yet. We have an hour.

7:45 – My gentle murmuring and caressing to help them ease into this big day have evolved to flipping on the overhead lights, yanking off their blankets and firmly reminding them “It’s test day. We have a lot of things to do to get ready! You’re going to be awesome, but not in your sleep. Get up!”

7:55 – We’re assembled in the kitchen, dressed in outfits we wisely laid out the night before, ready for our traditional Test Day dance party. The play list for this test prep ritual is a collection of songs and dances that motivate and inspire us. First up is morning aerobics to “We Like to Party”, comprised of silly stretches, classic moves like the lawnmower, the swim, and an inexplicably athletic take on hand sanitizing. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of time, so while I do the “shopping cart” move I’m gathering eggs from the fridge, scrambling them during knee thrusts, and mixing in sausage crumbles during the cabbage patch. #2 Protein-packed breakfast – Achievement Unlocked!

8:00 – Next up is “Ice Cream and Cake” with a lot of goofy poses and frenetic wiggling, during which I manage to toast some frozen French toast sticks, because my son asserts that his teacher approved pancakes and this was the closest thing we have in the house.

“Kids, let’s run through those sentence stems one more time. You ready to cite text evidence? Remember to spend the majority of your time planning. Don’t forget to check it after you’re done. If you’re not making changes, you’re not proofing critically enough. You’re brilliant, you got this, be confident. Don’t you touch that iPad.”

8:05 – One last song. Wait! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a change in the schedule. My daughter sees a YouTube side link for the Duck Song. “You gotta listen, mama. You just have to hear this!” The Duck Song, I now know, is a complete waste of 3 minutes of my life. Worse yet, it puts me 3 minutes behind schedule. Hey, duck, I don’t care if you get your grapes or lemonade. You’re messing with my flow, now scram.

8:08 – My son’s school day starts first, and time is ticking down, so I’m a bit short on patience for giving him time to ponder the hard-hitting questions like,

“Syrup on the sticks or in a dipping bowl? Come on! It’s getting late! Sticks or bowl? Sticks or bowl?! It’s not rocket science! You can put your shoes on between bites, yes? Then do it.”

8:20 – T minus 5 minutes for scheduled launch, and we haven’t started our pièce de résistance, the ultimate testing confidence builder – R Kelly’s “World’s Greatest”. With motions, of course! But what’s this? The song is 6 minutes long! Ack! Fast forward through the intro, now everybody DANCE! You’re that star up in the sky, you’re the eagle, the giant, the world’s greatest. You can feel it. Crap.

“Your hair is a disaster! How have I not noticed until now that you look like a Yu-Gi-Oh character? You keep doing the motions; I’ll wet your hair. No, I’m not making it worse. It will dry better. Trust me.”

{Author’s note: at the end of the day his teacher would inform me that in art class they drew pictures to illustrate symmetry, and another kid tried to draw a portrait of my son… before deciding his hair was too asymmetrical. I kid you not.}

8:30 – Leaving my middle schooler to pack her own lunch and complete final preparations for the day, I careen out of the driveway and take corners on two wheels to meet goal # 3 Get to school on time!

8:38 – I make it to the car loop with 2 minutes to spare. I am supermom! I just knew this cape would come in handy. I now have one zig and one zag of runway to help him reach goal #4 RELAX.

“I’m so proud of you, son. I know you’re going to do fine. Don’t worry about this test. But do take it seriously. Use all of your time. But watch the clock so you don’t run out. Don’t disappear into the bathroom and daydream for a while like you did on the practice test. If they ask you to pick a side for a controversial topic, just flip a coin and pick one, then back it up with evidence from the passage. I promise they won’t come to the house to ask if that’s what you really and truly believe. The way you perform on the test couldn’t possibly make me any more or less proud than I am of you every minute of the day. We won’t be disappointed in you, and it won’t show us how smart you are or aren’t. You got this. Just breathe and relax. Now get out of the car, we’re holding up the line.”

He disembarks nonchalantly, completely unfazed by the morning antics. I, however, am still set squarely in hyper-warp-speed mode, and pull away from the curb before my automated van door closes, my vehicle beeping a warning like a bulldozer in reverse and spewing long-forgotten Chick-Fil-A books and Happy Meal toys out of the open door. I’m like an FSA piñata.

8:50 – I pull into the driveway with T minus 10 minutes to launch of kiddo #2. Her lunch is packed. She’s not showered, but she’s dressed in clean clothes and her favorite good luck charm necklace. This child – the one we justifiably feared in 4th grade would simply cry her way through all 45 minutes of the writing FCAT – is cool as a cucumber, completely unrushed, and walks out the door like she was born for this test. I’m guessing she spent those lonely 20 minute binging on Crossy Road on the iPad and watching the mind-numbing sequels of that stupid duck song. I may have to reconsider my morning routine for the upcoming math and reading tests…

…but why? Clearly I have this one down to a science.

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