Taking time to evaluate student learning is important. Through the year, it is important to determine where your child’s strong points and weak points lie. Identifying strong points and areas of interest is important because that will help you to know the types of things your son may be interested in pursuing and learning more about in the coming year. Identifying weak points is important so that you can spend more time instructing them in those subjects to try to help them catch up to where they should be.
If your child is weak in a certain area, that may be an indication that you should consider switching to a different curriculum for that subject. Sometimes just having things approached from a different angle will give your son enough stimulation for him to want to try harder in that subject.
Homeschooling parents usually have a much better idea of what their children know and what they struggle with than do parents whose children attend school outside of the home. As you’re teaching your child, it’s pretty easy to tell when they’ve grasped a subject and when you need to continue to work with them before moving on. Homeschool children aren’t getting graded, however, so it’s hard to prove to grandparents and the rest of the outside world that our children are doing well compared to their schooled peers.
Some homeschoolers turn to standardized testing in order to prove that their children are learning and are on par with other students. This isn’t necessarily an approach I would recommend. For one thing, schools spend an inordinate amount of their time and resources preparing their children specifically to take these tests.
Because schools spend so much time preparing their students to take standardized tests, some of them have been forced to cut back or even eliminate other programs. Some schools have eliminated the arts, recess for young children and electives for high schoolers. Teachers find they can’t have discussions about current events in the classroom because that material will not appear on the tests. Some teachers have even eliminated entire subject areas such as science if the test will only cover language arts and math.
Entire years are devoted to “studying for the test” in schoolrooms. This can make it hard and undesireable to compare your children to if you are not using this same approach at home. Of course, the test results of most homeschooled children do compare favorably to those of sent-to-school children – so you will need to decide for yourself if this is an approach you want to take.
Homeschoolers run the risk of being overly concerned with how their children score on these tests and making the same mistakes as have the schools. Instead of having your child take a standardized test, I would recommend having a list of skills and information that are taught for specific grades and using that to be sure that you are covering the information that other children their age are being taught.
Remember, not all schools teach the same things – and you won’t cover everything exactly the same as your local school… and that’s a good thing. There are things being taught in schools these days that make my husband and I very sad. Character education is all but forgotten in the public schools… and parents don’t have time to teach any life skills to their kids because they’re too busy helping them finish hours of homework every night.
So take heart! Remember the reasons you wanted to homeschool – it wasn’t because you wanted to duplicate your local public school. Stay true to your values and your sons will grow up with integrity and with plenty of learning accomplished as well.
For more information about this topic, check out the Evaluate Student Learning section of my Amazon bookstore.
Question: How do you evaluate learning for your child? Do you rely on standardized tests or do you have a different method that you recommend? Please leave a comment below.