Homeschooling differs from the classroom not only in the forms of teaching but also in the methods of assessment. Let’s see how to assess the performance of a homeschooling child.
How to assess the performance of a homeschooling child?
In order to assess how well the student has mastered a particular topic, the teacher can use a variety of tools: tests, tests, presentations, essays, etc. The choice of one or another assessment method depends on the subject, but all of them are used when teaching in the classroom.
When a child is homeschooled, parents ask the question, “How do I know if the child has learned anything?” This is one of the most common questions asked by parents who are not familiar with homeschooling.
This is not to say that it is impossible to measure the performance of a homeschooled child. However, forms of control must be creative.
Let’s look at a few ideas for how to measure a child’s academic performance.
Theoretically, you can give the child a dictation to test his literacy, or invite him to give a presentation on a topic in history. But this is not the only way to determine the level of a child’s knowledge. Moreover, such assessment methods are best used in classroom teaching.
If you are discussing with your child books that he has read as part of the school curriculum, it will be superfluous to force him to do written work on these topics. You already know that he has mastered the material.
Homeschooled grades will look different from classroom instruction. You have a clear idea of what the child already knows and does not know. Therefore, you evaluate his progress as he assimilates the material.
In school, one teacher is responsible for the entire class, and he or she does not know so well how much each student has progressed in a particular subject. Therefore, he relies on a standardized grading system.
Quantity vs quality
Many parents of homeschooled children are concerned about whether their child is doing well enough. But what exactly does “good enough” mean? And what are the evaluation criteria?
The homeschooling program is in line with the state curriculum for mainstream schools. This means that he must assimilate a certain amount of knowledge at a certain time.
However, a child who is home-schooled does not need to follow a common trajectory. You can start where the child left off in their learning and gradually work your way up at your own pace. In this case, it is not the volume of the studied material that comes to the fore, but the quality of teaching.
For example, in grade 6 in biology, you are studying the classification of all animals with your child. Let’s say it took you 3 weeks to study the classification of birds instead of the planned one. You spent more time on this topic because the child was not ready to move on to the next topic: he wanted to make a birdhouse, look for different types of birds on walks in the park, watch a documentary about birds, etc.
Does this mean that you have failed in organizing the learning process? No! Instead of worrying about being behind the curriculum, think about the quality of your teaching. This is the best metric to gauge a child’s learning progress.
You can use non-standard methods to understand how well your child is assimilating the material. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Talk to your child.
Better yet, invite him to talk to you. For example, at a family dinner, ask your child what they have learned today. You may ask specific questions, but the child’s story may become broader. Invite your child to share what he has learned, not with his teacher, but with someone else. This is a good way to check how well he absorbed the information.
An old saying goes: you don’t know something if you can’t teach it to another person. And there is some truth in this. To understand how the child has mastered the material, invite him to become a teacher for a while.
Ask the older child to teach the younger to add or subtract numbers, or to read a book to him and explain unfamiliar words.
Instead of assessing your child with tests and assessments, encourage him to complete projects. For example, when he teaches multiplication, give a recipe for a dish per person and suggest calculating the number of ingredients for 3 people.
When he teaches the concepts of speed and distance in physics, ask him to plot a route on the map with stops every 100 kilometers and calculate the time in order to reach the final goal. The project approach allows you to assess the child’s knowledge and his ability to apply it in practice.
Use internet technology.
During our school years, we received grades for oral presentations. While public speaking skills are essential, today they are not the only way to deliver a presentation. Keep in mind that the Internet offers many opportunities to present information to a wider audience in many different ways. Instead of an oral presentation, the child can record a video and upload it to Youtube, make a video on TikTok, etc.
That being said, you need to be mindful of your child’s online safety and consider whether to make the video public. It might be worth adjusting the privacy of the video or not uploading it to Youtube at all.
Pay attention to learning progress, not metrics.
Once you’ve accepted the fact that quality is more important than quantity in learning, it’s worth considering the learning context as well. If a child answers correctly only 60% of the math tests, this does not mean that he is a poor student at home. Compare its results with those of past testing. If last time he answered only 40% of the questions, he has progressed, and this is the main thing. If the results have worsened, it is worth figuring out why.
Allow your child to use sources of information during testing. Many children are taught at home to find and use information, rather than memorize it. Children are taught to use dictionaries, encyclopedias, and proven Internet resources to answer their questions.
If you are using this approach, allow your child to use sources of information during the assessment. Finding the information you need and interpreting it is much more important than memorizing it.
However, remember that memorization is also an important skill. Memorizing facts is like exercising muscles: Constant exercise makes your child’s brain stronger. In addition, the child must memorize certain information (for example, the multiplication table) in order to prepare to learn more complex information.
But at the same time, it is important to understand the difference between memorizing useful and memorizing instead of understanding (surely each of us had to prepare for exams on the last night – after that, we immediately forgot everything that we learned). Make sure that whatever you force your child to remember will be useful in future learning.
Watch the learning process.
How does a child behave when he does not know the answer to a question? Does he know where to look for information or when to seek help? Does he seek to learn more about what interests him?
What interests him more – mathematics, history, or biology? A child who is addicted to something and wants to learn more loves the learning process itself. And even studying at home, he achieves high results.
Take a step back.
If your child is homeschooled, you are likely to be heavily involved in the learning process. Even stronger than it should be.
It is useful for all students to face difficult problems from time to time. So they learn to find solutions in different situations – from math problems to reading books that are difficult for their age.
Therefore, from time to time you need to take a step back and give your child the opportunity to independently solve educational problems. If the child has difficulties, he can always turn to you. This will help you to know better how well he learns the material.
Build your learning portfolio.
You may find it difficult to see your child’s academic progress. Therefore, regularly add and review your learning portfolio. Include projects and creative assignments that your child completes throughout the school year in your portfolio.
So you can keep track of how the child is learning, what knowledge and skills he already has. It may turn out that he knows and can do more than you think.