Homeschooling differs from classroom not only in the forms of classes, but also in the ways of assessment
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 and more. The choice of one or another assessment method depends on the subject, but they are all used in classroom teaching.
When a child studies at home, parents ask themselves, “How do I know if a child has learned something?” This is one of the most common questions asked by parents who do not know the specifics of home schooling. After all, it is different from learning in the classroom.
This does not mean that it is impossible to measure the success of a child studying at home. However, forms of control must be creative. Here are some ideas on how to determine a child’s success.
Theoretically, you can conduct a dictation for a child 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 a child’s level of knowledge. Moreover, such assessment methods are best used in the classroom.
If you discuss with your child the books she has read as part of the school curriculum, it will be unnecessary to force her to do written work on these topics. You already know that she has mastered the material. Grades will look different during homework than in class. You have a clear idea of what the child already knows and does not know. Therefore, you evaluate her progress as she assimilates the material.
During school, one teacher is responsible for the whole class, and he does not know how well each student has succeeded in learning a subject. Therefore, it relies on a standardized evaluation system.
Quantity vs quality
Many parents of home-schooled 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 home schooling program corresponds to the state curricula for secondary schools. This means that the student must acquire a certain amount of knowledge over time.
However, a child studying at home does not have to follow a common trajectory. You can start from the place where the child stopped in his studies, and gradually move at your own pace. In this case, it is not the amount of material studied that comes to the fore, but the quality of education.
For example, in 6th grade biology you study with your child the classification of all animals. Let’s say you took 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: she wanted to make a birdhouse, look for different species of birds on walks in the park, watch a documentary about birds, and so on.
Does this mean that you have failed to organize the learning process? No! Instead of worrying about being behind the program, think about the quality of your training. This is the best indicator to assess a child’s progress in learning.
You can use non-standard methods to understand how well your child is learning. Consider some of them.
Talk to the child. Better yet, invite her to talk to you. For example, at a family dinner, ask your child what he or she has learned today. You can ask about something specific, but the child’s story can be broader. Invite the child to tell them what they learned, not their teacher, but someone else. This is a good way to test how well she has mastered the information.
Swap roles. 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 well the child has mastered the material, invite him or her to become a teacher for a while.
Ask the older child to teach the younger one to add or subtract numbers, or read a book to her and explain unfamiliar words.
Use projects. Instead of assessing your child with tests and tests, ask her to complete projects. For example, when she teaches multiplication, give a recipe for 1 person and offer to calculate the number of ingredients for 3 people. When she teaches physics the concept of speed and distance, ask her to map a route with stops every 100 kilometers and calculate the time to reach the final destination. The project approach allows to assess the child’s knowledge and his ability to apply them in practice.
Use Internet technology. During school, we received grades for oral presentations. And while public speaking skills are very important, today is not the only way to give a presentation. Remember that the Internet provides many opportunities to present information to a wide audience in different ways. Instead of an oral presentation, a child can record a video and post it on Youtube, make a video on TikTok, and so on.
At the same time, you need to remember about the safety of the child on the Internet and think about whether to make the video public. You may want to keep your video private or not upload it to Youtube at all.
Pay attention to learning progress, not indicators. Once you have accepted the fact that quality is more important than quantity in learning, you should also consider the context of learning. If a child answers only 60% of math tests correctly, it does not mean that he is doing poorly at home. Compare its results with the results of past testing. If last time she answered only 40% of the questions – she has progress, and this is the main thing. If the results have deteriorated, it is worth understanding why.
Allow your child to use sources of information during testing. Many children are taught to find and use information at home, not to memorize it. Children are taught to use dictionaries, encyclopedias and proven online resources to answer their questions. If you use this approach, allow your child to use sources of information during tests. The ability to find the right information and interpret it is much more important than memorization.
However, remember that memorization is also an important skill. Memorizing facts is like training muscles: constant training makes a child’s brain stronger. In addition, the child must memorize certain information (such as a multiplication table) to prepare for more complex information.
But it is important to understand the difference between useful memorization and memorization instead of comprehension (probably each of us had to prepare for exams on the last night – after that we immediately forgot everything we learned). Make sure that everything you make your child remember will be useful to her in further learning.
Observe the learning process. How does a child behave when he does not know the answer to the question? Does she know where to look for information or when to seek help? Does she want to know more about what interests her? What interests her more – mathematics, history or biology? A child who is interested in something and wants to learn more, loves the learning process itself. And even studying at home, she achieves high results.
Take a step back. If your child is studying at home, you are probably very involved in the learning process. Even stronger than it should be.
It is useful for all students to face difficult tasks 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 solve educational problems. If your child has difficulty, she will always be able to contact you. This way you will know better how well she absorbs the material.
Replenish the training portfolio. You may find it difficult to see your child’s progress in learning. Therefore, regularly replenish the training portfolio and review it. Include in the portfolio projects and creative tasks that the child performs during the school year. This way you will be able to keep track of how the child is learning, what knowledge and skills he or she already has. It may turn out that she knows and can do more than you think.
In which cases you can use formal tests
Despite the fact that in this article we consider mainly creative methods of performance appraisal, in some cases it is possible to use traditional formal methods.
Mathematics and spelling. Learning topics based on memorization (for example, arithmetic operations, spelling rules, etc.) are best learned when different exercises and test tasks are used in the learning process.
Written speech. It is important that the child learns to express their thoughts in writing without your help. To determine her knowledge of specific topics, you can give the following tasks: write an essay, review a book, make a presentation and more. In this way, the child not only develops writing skills, but also learns to interpret information and share it with other people.
Learn home study legislation
To transfer to home schooling, parents must apply to the school principal, after which they receive a calendar plan for all subjects for 2 months. After 2 months, the child must perform tests – at school or remotely. This allows us to conclude about the effectiveness of home schooling.
If you are not sure that you are doing well with your child’s education, you can hire a tutor who will help children.