As discussed in our previous post, “What is NAPLAN?”, NAPLAN is a national program that has been designed to standardise learning throughout Australia. NAPLAN results provide insights into where each child sits academically in relation to the Australian standard.
We often get asked by parents with children in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 how to begin preparing for NAPLAN. Before we begin, we’ll start out by stating that NAPLAN is not a contest. It should not be used for bragging rights (“my child is smarter than yours”) or to humiliate teachers, schools or children. In saying this, we do believe children should be sufficiently prepared to sit their NAPLAN assessments. Our main reason for this is to ensure your child is comfortable with:
An exam format
Completing multiple choice answer sheet
Feels confident and comfortable to give their best on the say (we find that children who go into assessments nervous or anxious will not perform at their standard, therefore the results are not accurate)
We have combined our top tips in this post to assist you in preparing your child for their NAPLAN assessment.
1. Content Changes – don’t memorize the questions and answers
While the format of the NAPLAN assessments remains fairly standard from one year to the next, the questions and content change every year. There is little point in getting your children to memorize the questions and answers to the practise tests or previous assessment tests. Doing this will only be detrimental and potentially cause anxiety when your child sits the actual exam – as they’ll be confronted with questions and content they do not know. Read on for the recommended ways to prepare and how to best use the practise assessments.
2. Problem Solving Skills – the key to success!
Much of the NAPLAN assessment tests the child’s ability to form a solution, or to conceptualise a process and formulate the answer using problem solving skills. This goes for both the numerical and English-based assessments.It is not ample enough for the child to know and understand the basics or fundamentals. Instead, they must be able to understand the fundamentals and then apply these to the problem in front of them. In numeracy, this often means using basic Mathematics skills to solve a worded problem solving question. In the English-based assessments, the children will be required to use their current knowledge and apply it laterally to answer the questions.
If your child has had little practice applying their knowledge to problem solving questions, put some together and let them have a go. Solving problems laterally requires children to think differently to how they would answer a basic question. It’s important your child is given some practise at problem-solving based questions before going into the NAPLAN assessment. This will give them more confidence during the assessment – there’s nothing worse for any child than to receive a test paper and have no idea what they’re looking at!
3. Use previous tests – here’s how to best use them
As we mentioned before, its important not to use the practise NAPLAN tests for memorizing questions and answers. However, these tests can and should be used to assist your child in the lead-up to the assessment date. Here’s the steps we recommend following:
Give your child one practise test to do. Do not time them or put any pressure on them to complete every section. The aim of the first practice is to understand what they do and don’t understand. Following this, you’ll have an understanding of the areas you can assist them with leading up to the assessment.
Take them through the questions they were unsure about and help them understand the concepts used. You may need to take the child back to basics and then build their knowledge laterally from there.
When ready, give them a second practice NAPLAN. This round, time them and ensure they use a multiple choice answer sheet to notate their answers. This will help prepare them and get them comfortable using the tools provided in the actual NAPLAN.
Review and repeat the steps as needed.
4. Timed writing – add some pressure
As part of NAPLAN, your child will be required to produce a written piece. This is usually a persuasive (or argumentative) essay. Students in year 3 may have never written an essay, let alone an argumentative essay before. It is therefore crucial that you provide some guidance and give them some practise writing pieces to help settle their nerves before the assessment date.
Write down some topic ideas, and get your child to write an essay on these – firstly without being timed, and eventually timed. Some example ideas include:
Dogs are better than cats
Students should not have to wear school uniforms
School cafeterias should only sell healthy food
You can think of hundreds of topics – the key is there must be a “yes” and “no” answer to each; it’s up to your child to choose which way they will argue and provide persuasive writing to prove their argument is correct.
5. Keep it relaxed
Remember that the point of NAPLAN is to gain insights into how your child is currently performing academically compared to the Australian standard. This is not a test or a competition, so keep it as relaxed as possible. The aim of your preparation is not so much to teach your child more and make them smarter. Instead, it should be to help them feel more confident going into the school assessment, to reduce their anxiety and help them relax so that they can give their best on the day.
If you would like assistance preparing your child for NAPLAN, speak to Lynn’s Learning. We offer NAPLAN preparation as part of our regular teaching programs and begin preparing students from Term 4 of the previous year. Following an initial assessment, we can help your child not just feel more confident about completing NAPLAN, but also help them understand any current gaps in their learning and excel them beyond their year level. Contact Lynn’s Learning today for more information.