Sharpen test-taking skills

JUST FOR PARENTS

Advice and strategies to help your children read

October 14, 2001

President Bush has made closing the gap in academic achievement his goal for education and "no child left behind" his objective. Key to success is testing. With the growing emphasis on setting high and consistent standards of achievement in our schools comes the ever-increasing need to test students. Since the testing season is upon us, here are some tips for parents and caregivers to steer their children clear of test-taking traps:

PREPARE YOUR CHILD

* Ask about the school's policies on standardized tests. What tests will be given this year? When will they be given? If you know when tests are given, you can help your child get a good night's rest. Preparation might help her feel more relaxed.

* Don't put too much emphasis on test scores, as this can upset a child. But teach your child that, for future learning, it is helpful to correct mistakes on tests.

* Teach your child to study for a test over a period of days, rather than cramming the night before.

* Give him a nutritious breakfast (limited in sugar, fats and caffeine).

* While it is good for a child to be concerned about doing well on a test, it is not good to worry excessively. Help reduce any anxiety your child may have about taking tests by pointing out good study techniques in the daily homework routine.

TEST-TAKING TIPS

* Teach your child to read directions carefully. Start by pointing out task directions on his daily worksheets.

* Teach your child to read all of the answers before selecting one. Sometimes children go with the first answer they find that matches something in the text. This may not be the best answer.

* If she doesn't know the answer to a question, teach her to place a check by that problem and go on. Then, if she has time at the end, she can return to the unanswered questions.

* For more tips go to: www.ed.gov / pubs / parents / TestTaking / index.html.

-- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Sci-fi and fantasy writers to speak

For millions of readers, fantasy and science-fiction titles offer a way to lose themselves in faraway worlds. The Enoch Pratt Free Library kicks off Teen Read Week (Oct. 14-20) with an exploration of these mysterious places, guided by the people who create them. In a program called "Where the Magic Begins," the Central branch will feature three authors who'll talk about their books and writing lives at 2 p.m. today.

Participating will be Charles Sheffield (author of the Jupiter series), who has published some 40 works of fiction and nonfiction since 1978 and captured the creme de la creme of the sci-fi writing world in winning both Hugo and Nebula awards; Charles de Lint (Trader, Moonheart, Yarrow), who started writing contemporary fantasy books in 1984, most of them set in his adopted country of Canada; and professional painter and sculptor Sally Lowenstein (Evan's Voice), who fuses her writing and art in illustrating her books. The moderator for this fantastic discussion is Cathi Dunn McRae, editor of Voice of Youth Advocates magazine and Presenting Young Adult Fantasy Fiction.

Sheffield and de Lint's publisher, Tor Books, has donated copies of their books so that every teen attending gets a free copy at the book signing after the program. For more information, call 410-396-5430.

-- Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Best Sellers: Children's Picture Books

Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories -- picture books, chapter books, and paperbacks -- which are published in rotation, one category per week.

1. Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer (weeks on list: 3)

2. My World by Margaret Wise Brown (1)

3. Olivia by Ian Falconer (53)

4. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin (37)

5. Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss (221)

6. A Penguin Pup for Pinkerton by Steven Kellogg (2)

7. Bunny Party by Rosemary Wells (2)

8. A Redwall Winter's Tale by Brian Jacques (2)

9. Marsupial Sue by John Lithgow (3)

10. The Honeybee and the Robber by Eric Carle (5)

Contact us

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on sunspot.net, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to sun.features@baltsun.com; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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