How to Involve The Children in Evaluating and Recording Homeschool Progress
© Beverley Paine
Children need to be included in the process of evaluating and recording their learning. This is as essential as involving them in the planning stages. As well as fostering co-operation and responsibility, the children will build skills in critical and reflective thinking, and become more aware of their own learning styles, interests and needs.
Being involved in the evaluation and recording of their own planned activities helps the children to formulate realistic goals and analyse their strengths and weaknesses. These skills will be invaluable throughout their entire lives, and are worth encouraging early.
In time, the children will be able to plan and direct their own learning programs, independent of your help. Independent learning skills are the cornerstone of success in higher educational institutions, and are very easily achieved in the home learning environment.
To encourage the children's participation in self-evaluation activities and recording, they need to be clear about what the key learnings are for them in the activities you have planned.
If they have been involved in the planning stages, they will have already set their own learning goals, and perhaps discussed what indicators they will use to judge their success or improvement.
Not all activities the children do should be evaluated in a conscious way with them. It is very important to recognise children need privacy, and most of their time will be taken up with their own activities, mostly for fun and private learning. Often children will readily share their own achievements and successes, and these can be recorded later if desired. Many developmental milestones are reached through play. Discuss with your children regularly which type of activities will be recorded in your home schooling program. Asking for their permission to record incidental learning 'milestones' that occur outside of planned activities, is the best way to build respect and trust.
The easiest way to turn children off learning is by too much interference in their personal learning efforts, or by regulating their time so much it constantly interrupts their own explorations. A few well timed activities each day, where evaluation is seen to be important and integral to the learning will be sufficient and most useful.
When helping children develop self-evaluative skills you must first of all model them yourself, choosing appropriate comments and behaviours and practicing them in your everyday life. Using a personal journal or diary regularly is one effective way to do this. Many homeschooling families set aside a period of time, usually after the evening meal, for daily journal writing. Very young children can be encouraged to draw or scribble in a special book, and parents can scribe what they say. This is an excellent habit to develop, and encourages not only evaluation and reflection, but also reading and writing skills. Daily journal writing is often most successful if everyone does it, and it is uniformly valued in the family.
There are many formal ways children can evaluate and record their own performance, knowledge, skills and abilities. In schools teachers use specifically designed forms or sheets the students fill out, and which gradually call upon more reflective processes as the children gain skill in this area. Such forms usually ask the children:
These evaluation sheets can be inserted into a folder for each child which in later years could later grow into a portfolio. Such educational portfolios have proved useful in obtaining tertiary education positions and employment.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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