In our state, homeschoolers have a few different options for annual evaluations; two of the most popular are standardized tests and portfolios showing examples of the student’s work throughout the year – basically a homeschool scrapbook.
Since our vacation is approaching quickly, I decided to go for the cut-and-dry test. I still plan to make a portfolio for our own records and memories, of course, but I don’t want to have to finish it before we go. Also, since we technically don’t have to submit it to the school district, I will have extra time to work on it after our vacation and connect with an evaluator for some feedback. The fact that Kiki doesn’t get too stressed out over tests is another reason we could take this route. I’m also just curious about how she would do when compared to other kids at her level.
Feedback from fellow homeschooling parents at a recent conference led me to the Hewitt PASS test – it’s not timed and can be administered by a parent at home. I also like that students who are getting tested for the first time can take a placement test to ensure that they aren’t taking a test too easy or too hard for them. And it wasn’t too expensive.
Our city school district – and therefore a lot of Kiki’s friends – were on spring break this week, so I decided testing would be a good excuse to keep the school workload light. The test procedure was straightforward, so we found quiet time (ie. sent The Boo to his grandmother) and got through the three sections in three days. On the last day, we took a trip to the post office to mail it away and had a celebratory lunch (grilled cheese, of course).
When I told Kiki she was taking the test, she asked, “Does this mean I’ll be done with school?”
Not exactly. But I did concede one thing. “I think after it’s done, we can say you’re done with fourth grade.” Most of the homeschooling kids we know (the ones who have never been to traditional school) aren’t in a particular grade, so to speak. So, sure, why not let this be what marks the end of the year?
“Yay!” I could see the grand schemes for spending entire days on the swing set in her eyes.
“BUT … that doesn’t mean that we aren’t doing any work. We can keep going!”
To Kiki’s credit, she didn’t deflate too much. After all, it’s not as if we’ve been working at a breakneck pace. Her day-to-day work includes a lot of time on the computer beefing up those math and programming skills, as well as a decent chunk of time on the couch reading and watching documentaries. She also gets frequent breaks, spontaneous trips to the park and no evening homework.
Continuing the work over the summer has always been part of my plan. It won’t be super intensive – probably just math and writing and whatever else we come across that’s interesting. She’ll still play with friends and spend some time at a camp or two and go to the pool. Having something to fall back on at home, though, will give our summer days a little more structure. While The Boo is attending preschool, we will still be a little tied to the rigid academic calendar, but we are gradually moving away to a more fluid learning experience.