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Natural Assessment in the Homeschool

Posted Jan 16 2013 2:00pm

Homeschooling Assessment is Natural 

I’ve worked with my own children and with others one on one, both in schools and in private tutoring sessions. I’ve worked in the classroom. There are so many advantages in a one on one setting. One of these is assessment. A classroom teacher has to take a stack of papers to assess her students’ understanding. She gets some information from that, but nowhere near the information a homeschooling parent gets on a moment by moment basis. 

An Example

Let’s use math as an example. If your child is working on long division, there are a few different places where he can stumble. Is it in the placement of numerals, the subtraction, or in his understanding of  multiples? Does he get it at all, or is he just stumbling along and getting it right just enough to pass? In school maybe he’d be a C student. The teacher would keep on moving forward and he would remain a C student, struggling to keep up. Maybe he was sick the week that a key concept was introduced and it’s just one thing holding him back. The difficulty becomes worse  as math gets more complex. 

Go Slow at First if Necessary

The homeschooled child doesn’t have to keep up with a class. If he’s sick, he doesn’t miss anything. He gets to pick up where he left off! Does this slow him down? Sometimes. But in the long run, he has the basics down and eventually that causes an acceleration of learning. Assessment continues throughout the day and evening as parents and children have conversations. Parents discover misunderstandings which helps them tweak lessons. Sometimes these conversations lead the parent to identify that their child has a deeper understanding of a topic. 

One of the biggest challenges in schools is the need to move along at a given pace. Here’s what a parent can do that the classroom teacher can’t.  The parent has the luxury of watching the child do the steps of long division. She can watch the mistake happen and ask him to explain his thinking. Now she knows the very thing her child needs help with. And she can plan lessons around that. Although a parent of a schooled child can do that, there is still other homework to be done. And her child’s class will continue to move right along with him trailing behind. 

At the other end of the spectrum, sometimes a child is overworking a problem because he has an insight into the topic that goes beyond the lesson.

These natural assessments give information over and above what a “test” can reveal. 

You know what interests your child. You know what he can do, what he understands, what he almost understands, and what he still needs to learn. And you have some ideas of how you can embellish and enrich his learning! You have a curriculum guide of some kind to show you where he needs to go according to the public school standards. And you may have chosen to have your child formally assessed by the school district. You have so much more data on your child than any classroom teacher could have on an entire class of students! 

I’d love to answer your questions about assessment in the homeschool! 



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