What is NAPLAN?
It is an assessment run by the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority in Australia. It is a nation-wide assessment and is short for National Assessment Program - Language and Numeracy. What it tests is numeracy and language, specifically, reading comprehension, writing and language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) for students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.
Academics and teachers can debate about the merits of preparing students for these tests but the bottom line is that parents do want their children to do well. Below are some things that I find contribute to students' successes.
1. Prepare a year ahead
NAPLAN is a comprehensive assessment. The three areas of literacy are covered and all mathematics topics are covered in numeracy. So it pays to have lot of time to prepare for it. If students start early then they can leisurely work their way through the different topics instead of cramming everything in at the last minute. When there is an area that students have difficulties in they will then have the time to go into it in details.
2. Do practice tests
There are many books that have sample tests similar to NAPLAN. Buy these books at your local bookstore and have your children do them. Then go through any mistakes made. Make sure they understand where they went wrong and do more of these types of questions.
3. Do past papers
Try to get your hands on past papers. If you can't get a clean copy then ask friends whose children did previous years' papers if you could borrow them. Photocopy, liquid paper the answers, photocopy again and have your children do this clean copy (and return your friends' copies). Search the internet as some government sites offer previous years' papers. Here is an example of one and here is another.
4. Read lots of books
Read everyday. Reading helps children with comprehension, writing and spelling. The more they read the better they will become. Ask children to write down any new or difficult words that they encounter. Write it down, look it up, learn and use it. When reading, try to picture what is going on to help with comprehension.
5. Write write write
Write everyday. Practice writing in the text type that will be assessed. With an exposition, most children will just write the reasons why they think it is so. Prod children to further expand on what they have written by asking why they think that is a good reason. Ask questions such as "what about it?" and "so what?". Here is a guide to the text types.