Testing... The Natural Learning Way
© Beverley Paine
We don't believe in 'testing' the children to measure their academic achievement, we think it is detrimental to their self esteem and confidence. However, 'testing' is a natural consequence of life, just as competition seems to be.
I find I 'test' my children every day - perhaps a better word would be challenge . I consciously set them little tasks or questions which I know they are fairly able to master. These are always in context, not divorced from some real life activity or situation.
Mostly I assess my children's abilities through observing them, and by measuring that against my expectations. I constantly check to see if my expectations are realistic, and if they are tailored to my children's individual needs, not standards set by outside sources. I have found that what was applicable for one child in terms of achievement is totally unrealistic for another.
When I gauge these things I like to take into account the holistic picture of the developing child - what all the strengths and weaknesses are. Observing and marking the strengths, by celebrating them in various ways, is an important part of this evaluation process for us. 'Testing', on the other hand, especially in a formal way, focuses more on the child's weaknesses, placing more emphasis on correction, than in pursuing excellence in areas of talent.
The children like to 'test' themselves and I don't discourage this. They know about school and employee type tests. I will set them tests if they ask for them, and encourage them to participate in quizzes and puzzles.
The best tests are those that are not competitive, or set against a 'standard', but are ones that measure a child's progress against previous achievements. Homeschools can easily make their own tests of this kind.
Beverley has written extensively about evaluating and recording home education learning programs. Her Getting Started with Homeschooling includes a chapter with samples taken from her personal records.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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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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