Wednesday, April 13, 2016

5 Ways to Know that Your Homeschool Works

As you may have already guessed from my previous article, 5 Reasons to NOT use Standardized Tests in Your Homeschool, I'm not a huge fan of testing my kids at all. It's not that I don't think that tests have a valid place in homeschool, I think in some instances, you should put your child through the process of testing. But I'm here to say that testing, especially Standardized Tests, are not the tell all for your child's knowledge and understanding.

Here are 5 Ways to Know that Your Homeschool Works

  1. Ask your child questions after presenting the subject.  Can the give you important details about the subject back, in their own words? 
  2. Are they able to tell others about what they are studying?  I often "set" my children up.  When we see a friend or family member, I'll ask them to tell them about what we have been studying.  If they're at a loss for words, I'll prompt them.  For example, I'll say: "What war are we studying?" "When was that war?" "Who are we reading about?" Dad is a great person to do this with each night, so he hears what the kids are doing and the kids get to share their excitement.
  3. Can they relate what they learned to real life?  This one doesn't always happen right away.  Sometimes it takes years to sink in, but if you teach your children long enough, you'll find more and more instances of real life applications.  Last week, I realized that my 11 year old was really understanding the Civil War, because he was having nightmares where he was a Civil War soldier!  Ok, so nightmares aren't the best thing for my child, but he could tell in great detail war scenes; what was worn, which side did what, who he was with, etc.  I have to say, that was one of those moments where I knew my son was understanding completely what we were learning!
  4. Carry an idea or theme into other subjects, to be sure they have the concept.  The more different ways you can study a subject, the more likely your child will be to retain and understand the subject.  Here's and example of how we do this in our schooling:  We are studying the Civil War right now in history, so we are studying in Bible time about God's Justice and talk about what God would think of slavery.  Then we read from a fabulous book with real pictures of Lincoln.
  5. While studying this book, we will check our Civil War timeline and also the map, to watch where the war is taking place as well as where Lincoln travels.  For our Read Alouds, we have been reading classics to learn about different ways the Civil War has impacted different people.  Here are some of our favorites:
  As we read the stories, if we read about something that interests us, we try to find out more information to add to it.  Yesterday, Caddie Woodlawn had pigeon pie.  I'm going to do some research on that today, because we actually have some grouse on hand, so I might attempt to make a pigeon pie in the near future!  We will add to this, poetry and songs from the Civil War to add to it.    If Caddie does some math or learning, we'll incorporate that too!
5. Parent/Teacher confidence!  This is my favorite - use your gut!  Do you think your child has a handle on this material?  Give yourself some credit for knowing that your child knows (or doesn't know) the material!

There you have it - my opinions on doing standardized tests in the homeschool.  This opinion is based on 14 years of homeschool experience, as well as obtaining a bachelor's degree without ever receiving a grade!  It takes some getting used to, to not have society tell you that your are being successful in your homeschool, but really, isn't it the reason you are homeschooling?  Tell me your thoughts!