Expert tells children to 'bring it on'

Just the mention of testing prompted groaning from a lunchroom full of Richmond County schoolchildren.

The pressure of the high-stakes Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests wasn't lost on the group of 10- and 11-year-olds at Bayvale Elementary School.

"Your heart is beating fast," 11-year-old Jacques Rogers said as he recalled taking the test he must pass to advance to the next grade. "You just get scared. We might fail it."

His classmates shared his concerns.

To ease their worries, the school held a special assembly Tuesday to teach pupils how to avoid stress and be prepared for next week's CRCT retests.

"Everyone talking about the CRCT kind of makes you a little nervous," Miriam Smith, Sylvan Learning's associate center director, told the fifth-graders.

She offered a few tips for them to capitalize on what they've learned:

- Stretch, relax and stay calm.

- Get to bed by 8:30 p.m.

- Concentrate and ignore potential distractions.

- Eat "brain food" for breakfast, including peanut butter, bananas, apples and eggs.

"This needs to be your attitude: Bring it on," Mrs. Smith said, telling the pupils they know the material and now must apply their knowledge.

Kimani Smith, 11, said he will block out distractions when he takes the CRCT.

"Don't pay attention when other people act up," he said.

Mrs. Smith also stressed the important role parents play in their children's success.

"It's important for parents to realize they have a lot more control than they think they do," she said.

For instance, teachers can't ensure that children are getting to bed at a decent hour. That's a parent's responsibility.

Parents should also work with their children to practice math and reading skills, much as they would practice skills such as basketball, Mrs. Smith said. Rather than listening to the car radio, allow your child to read aloud, she said.

Principal Dana Harris said that without parents, the school's efforts fall to the wayside.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

RETEST DATES

RICHMOND COUNTY

- Tuesday and June 25, with makeups June 26


COLUMBIA COUNTY

- Math on Friday, with makeup on Tuesday

- Reading on Thursday, with makeups on Monday