Gauging homeschool progress is one of those things that can cause uneasiness in our journey and especially as we get closer to the end of the school year. Do we ever stop stressing over measuring our homeschool progress by either a pass or fail standard? I think so. But I also think it does not come without wrangling with our own mind-set. Okay, maybe it comes with clashing with naysayers too, but then again I never did set out to homeschool so that I could prove to others that my kids were making progress.
Measuring progress in our homeschool though is natural, but it can be done in many other ways besides doing a standardized test each year. Tests, like any tool, have value in homeschool. But like any useful tool, it can become dangerous if we don’t handle it correctly.
Too, children are no different than us at times when they need validation as to their progress. Sometimes kids need that assurance that they are making progress. And there is nothing wrong with visual charts, stickers and progress report to praise them for those efforts. Unlike children though, we need to determine what will be our standard for progress or success and ways to measure it.
When we don’t determine the standard for our family, then we may be among the first ones to jump aboard the newest wave of educational thinking as to what proves academic rigor. And sometimes that new, so called revolutionary way or measuring stick is far-fetched.
What is not far-fetched is to expect growth and improvement in our children. The rub normally comes in when we are comparing ourselves to other families or when we compare our own children to each other.
5 Tips to Gauge Homeschool Progress Other Than the Standardized Test
Look at these ways that I have used to gauge homeschool success that is unique to each child.
- 1.) Plot your course before you can gauge your course. I have made it no secret that I am a paper planning girl by sharing my 7 Step Homeschool Planner both on my blog and on Pinterest.
Even if you are not a paper planner person, you still need some way to plot your course or write it all down. It is hard to gauge progress if you don’t have a starting point to measure from. I would like to think that I was all organized (okay I am just a wee bit) and could remember it all (I am for sure not that), but I can’t. Trying to remember what my sons knew at the beginning of the year whether I was teaching them to read or teaching them a new math concept and what they know now is not always easy to recall. Plot your starting point somewhere each year whether you use my free homeschool planner or not. The key is writing it down so that you remember and can look back later.
- 2.) Do a project and it doesn’t have to wait till the end of the year. Even if you live in a state or country that requires regular testing, I encourage you to do your own evaluations mid-year too. Evaluations do not have to take the form of a written test either. Even in college highschoolers are expected to not only be familiar with their subject, but to learn how to display that subject in a visual way that is appealing to others.
What projects do we have in homeschooling? Science fairs, notebooking, lapbooking and book reports are just a few of the ways our children can demonstrate that they are masters of their material. I’ll let you in on a little secret why I started off doing lapbooks and that is because I never wanted to be in the position of not having proof to show that I was homeschooling if the friendly homeschool laws changed here in Texas. If I ever had to show a portfolio to show our school progress, I would have plenty to choose from each year. Though fear was not the best motivating force to start them, I did learn quickly enough that I could easily shed the doubt that we weren’t doing enough.
- 3.) Hands-on projects count too. Keeping memorabilia from field trips and hands-on projects cements learning. Do you ever review with your kids where you have gone on field trips or what you learned at co-ops? You should because you would be surprised at what they have retained. Reviewing mastery of material and educational facts learned does not have to be so painstaking. Most children bubble over in talking about the events of the day and you can naturally fold in and reinforce key points learned.
One year, we had a year end talent show. Not only did it provide a lot of fun to end our year, but it allowed the kids to showcase what they had learned. Can you guess how much time they spent beefing up their skills, without my urging them to do so, before they stood up in front of others? I am telling you, it’s easier than you think when it comes to charting progress and we don’t have to follow the public school to do it.
- 4.) Maybe your teen doesn’t like lapbooks, but you still want a way for them to demonstrate their creative prowess and progress. Teens can prepare Powerpoint demonstrations of either your homeschool journey or to illustrate mastery of their subject. And as they grow older, they can help you to store and keep homeschool records by creating DVDs of your homeschool journey and their work. I have a huge tower of DVDs in my cabinet proving our homeschool journey.
- 5.) Blogging is a way for me to chart my sons’ progress, but also a private blog by your child is another creative way of proving what they know. When your child has readers, it only fuels their passion to prove to Grandma what he or she knows.
Keeping and comparing writing samples, reading lists and logs, quizzes, maps to show learned geography skills, charts that demonstrate your child has some knowledge of science and history and free-on line tests are not just for reporting purposes, but should be kept for you.
Then again too there are some things that can’t be so easily charted like maturity, reasoning ability, character training and learning responsibility.
You do know know what your children are learning because you are around them 24/7. But when self-doubt creeps in or when we do forget that even tiny baby steps forward is progress, having informal ways to gauge homeschool progress assures us that our sacrifices day in and day out are worth every second spent homeschooling.
What ways do you prove homeschool progress?
Hugs and love ya,
Need some more tips!
And it doesn’t hurt to have some forms too. Be sure you grab my free evaluation forms.