, Salem, MA


March 15, 2013

How to prepare for summer camps and MCAS tests


Buddy system: Even if your son opts to go with a friend, he might get homesick. Talk about how making new friends makes a camp experience better.

Letting go: Go ahead, feel the emotion. Parents typically struggle with the first overnight camp, but it’s a passage to independence your son will never forget. It’s also a step toward fulfilling every parent’s goal: raising a child who is prepared for adulthood.

Parenting tip: Demonstrate confidence when your son attempts new and scary ventures. Your optimism is infectious and will live within him long after you leave him at camp, college or his first apartment.

Q: What’s the significance of MCAS, and why is my fourth-grade daughter anxious about it?

A: The MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) is the statewide standards-based assessment that tests students’ knowledge of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. High school students must achieve a passing score to receive a high school diploma, but otherwise MCAS does not count toward student grades.

The MCAS covers a lot of information. At the fourth-grade level, it can appear overwhelming and contribute to a child’s anxiety. Tell your child that the MCAS is more of a tool for her teachers and school than a reflection of her ability.

As a parent, your job is to remind your child that tests exist simply to “show what they know.” Encourage her to relax during tests, emphasizing that her effort is more important than any test score. Sure, some children are anxious test takers. If your child is in fourth grade and you notice a pattern of anxiety before MCAS, you may want to address it using relaxation techniques such as exercise, deep breathing and visualization. (If these don’t help, seek professional consultation to help her manage her anxiety.)

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