Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Homeschool Philosophies - When You and Your Child Disagree

Our day started differently yesterday morning.  Usually we will do some reading, and some spelling, and some math.  But this morning, this morning started with a math test.
Now, it wasn’t a serious math test by any means.  It was actually just a placement test for 3rd grade math.  We finished up Emma’s second grade math a couple months ago, and have moved into her new curriculum already, but the curriculum we use recommends switching to a different math program at grade 3.  We did not switch, we are still using Singapore Math and love it, but because of the recommendation to switch to this entirely different program, I wanted to test Emma and see if she would be on track for that new program.

I’m not big on tests.  Part of the reason I wanted to homeschool my children was to take “test” out of the equation.  I hated tests when I was growing up.  I never seemed to do well with multiple choice (essay tests – that was another thing entirely, something I was actually good at), and I didn’t want that stress for my children.


When I told Emma that we would be doing a test this morning, and not just a test, a math test (math is her least favorite subject at the moment), she had the exact opposite reaction than what I imagined.  Instead of grumbling, she was excited.  And not just a little excited, so excited she declared that she would like to have a test every day.

Why did she want to have a test every day?  Because at the top of the test, in red pen, there is a grade, and she had the opportunity to receive an A+ on her test.


I was so surprised that this was her reaction!  She explained to me that she wanted to continue taking tests because she liked to receive grades.

I have never graded her on anything that she has done.  I always measure on effort and understanding.  If she is putting in the effort, I praise her for it, and I can see when she is understanding and when she is not.

Apparently, my child wants to have a bit more of a traditional education at this point in time, and that scared me a little bit.

See, I am much more of the Thomas Jefferson/Unschooling philosophy.  Emma is just 8, and so I want her to find a love of learning, I want her to explore the topics she finds most exciting, and I try to engage her with many different mediums – testing is not one of them. 

But, homeschooling is not about what I want to do (necessarily), it is Emma’s journey, and I want her to have input into what we do, and the path that we go on together.  Because of that, I am planning on doing a little more in the testing area.

Will this hold for more than one day?  Or will she decide after a few weeks that testing is not her thing?  This test today, it was only a placement test; and a very easy one for her where she got every question correct.  Will she feel the same way about tests that are challenging and she doesn’t know every answer?

The thing that I was most excited about though was her excitement.  Usually math is the hardest subject for us to get through, not because she doesn’t understand, but because she feels it is tedious, and we do a lot of problems (probably more than she needs to), but adding in a test made her have an incredibly positive attitude about math today, she did it with a smile, and continued on in her regular math lessons with no grumbles or quarreling.  I would say that is a win!


Do your children like to take tests?  Would you rather do away with testing altogether?

18 comments:

  1. Our youngest *thought* she would enjoy taking math tests, but that didn't turn out to be the case after a few of them. What is it about grades that kids like? Is it that they have something to measure their ability other than mom's praise? My kids DO like having grades on regular work, just not tests. I'm thinking of overhauling our school for next year, but I'll stop before I ramble on ;)

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  2. This was such an interesting read for me. I wasn't homeschooled, so testing was a big part of my curriculum and it wasn't necessarily my favorite part either! Though, I have to admit, I do agree with your daughter, that there is something very satisfying about having a quantifiable pass/fail assessment. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Grades are good! Well, when the grades themselves are good. I think it just comes down to the fact that everyone, big or small, likes to know that they know something, that they did something well, or that they are, simply, "good". And, tests offer that better than a regular assignment would. Akin to, say, getting a large gold star at the end of the day for doing ALL of the things versus a pat on the back for each little thing, and no stars - it weighs more into the pot of good feelings!
    I didn't necessarily enjoy tests in school, but I didn't bemoan them. They were alright. Plus, if you finished early, you could read. So that was cool. I would, however, do away with the amount of state testing that goes on. And the amount of prep that goes into them for the students. If it's a test on what they should know, taking a month out of the year to go over that stuff seems counter-intuitive. That part of school always frustrated me.

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  4. This is so good! Thank you for the encouragement.

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  5. This is great! For the record, despite my own feelings towards tests and grades, both of my kids will do anything I ask if they think they'll see a grade at the top of the page! Lol

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  6. I think grading is good because it gives us an indication of how well we are doing. Then again I think the UK curriculum has taken it too far because their testing is excessive.

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  7. I am going to agree with Emma on this one! My boys' elementary school didn't give grates. It was all letters and I felt that they were subjective. They kept bringing home N's for needs improvement but when I would quiz them at home they knew everything down-pat! Their new school gives grades and they are both receiving A's and B's. This has really boosted their confidence that they know what they are learning.

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  8. I don't know a lot about homeschooling, but I can see where there could be some disagreements!

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  9. The nice thing about homeschooling is that you can test as often, or as little as you want. You wouldn't believe how many tests I had to give when I taught Kindergarten...it was awful and I felt so sorry for the kids!

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  10. I love that your daughter is excited about math! That's great, and a testament to your teaching, and your dedication to wanting her to love learning. I was totally grade motivated, so I get that, too :)

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  11. I do have plans to home preschool and perhaps Kindergarten but we're unsure as to what to do beyond that. I've looked into getting a boxed curriculum though; maybe Sonlight because it's so literature rich. Even if we don't homeschool beyond Kindergarten, I think it would be fun to use as a supplement for after school.

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  12. I can say that grade boost the confident of the kids. It's like (for the kids) a measurement on how good or less their knowledge on the subject. I saw this when I was teaching on 1st grade of elementary.

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  13. My kids hate anything that even used the word test and I'm one who think that tests really don't measure kids correctly. Each child learn differently and so it's hard to judge what a child truly knows.

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  14. I can imagine that homeschool has ebbs and flows just like everything else, I would definitely try and focus on what is motivating her and getting her excited to learn!

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  15. I really liked grades when I was younger too. Pretty much around the age of 8 like your daughter. I loved to see that I had done well. If I didn't do well then I knew that I needed to try harder! I have never been homeschooled but I can imagine I might have wanted that even then too.

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  16. I think there are benefits to allowing children to have their own opinion. However, in our home our boys know that certain things are non-negotiable.

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  17. I love how you are homeschooling and no putting pressure on testing and a grading scale. I think kids are tested too often without even absorbing the information just test pass and move on not a good method. I think your daughter likes the feeling of passing so I think you can compromise every now and then with a test just to see where she is but I still like how its not shoved down her throat as a part of a daily/weekly school requirement for learning. Positive reinforcement helps with learning growth.

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  18. What a story! Maybe the fact that she doesn't always have tests made her enjoy the excitement of them? I'm glad she takes to learning with a positive attitude, that's the most important thing.

    Best,
    Rebecca Kelsey Sampson
    RebeccaKelsey.com/Blog

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