24 April 2010

Assessment 2010

I have always blogged about our annual homeschooling assessment and realized the other day that I missed writing about it this year. I say "our" assessment because, let's be real! A homeschool mom feels like she is really the one being assessed (at least, many of the homeschooling moms I know feel that way). If the assessor says that something is lacking, whose fault is that in the long-run? The teacher. The mom! I'm not talking about a child struggling in a specific subject. That happens no matter what. I'm talking about a child having some vital information completely missing from their curriculum. Science? Am I supposed to teach that? Of course, I don't know any homeschooling moms who do that type of thing. All of the homeschooling moms that I know go above and beyond the call of duty. I know that I generally do more than is ever necessary when preparing for our assessment. I take too much stuff with me. I make lists of anything I think she might want to look at like reading lists, extra-curricular activities and field trips. This year, I took a gimungous (it's a word if I say it is) tote bag with two 3-ring notebooks, a math book, a chapter book, my plan book and the reading curriculum that I was using for Ava. She wasn't even being assessed, but, when you're going to see 'The Reading Doctor" for a homeschooling assessment, then you take the opportunity to get her advice on things like reading.

Sure enough, the first thing about which Dr. Holinga asked was Ava and reading. I love this about Dr. Holinga. Yes, this is her chosen career, but she genuinely loves doing this and is always interested in my children beyond what she is required to do in our brief 60 minutes of time together. We always sip cups of tea together, and it feels like a cozy chat between two old friends even though she sees hundreds of others and barely remembers me from year to year. Since I was hoping she would ask about reading, I showed her what we were using. While what we were using was working as far as teaching Ava how to decode what was on the page, it wasn't the right fit for Ava the way it was for Lukas. She wasn't transferring her knowledge or reading past her daily reading lesson. Somewhere around March (I think) I introduced a Dick and Jane book that someone had given to me this past fall. Ava loves Dick and Jane. Dr. Holinga also loves Dick and Jane, which I was glad to hear. I trust her. She has a PhD in reading, after all! Because she is "The Reading Doctor", we got the unfortunate inside scoop on Dick and Jane. Only the kindergarten level of the Dick and Jane readers has been re-published. Thankfully, she offered Pathway readers as a solution to this problem, and I am so excited about it! They are very similar. We don't have them in hand yet, but we will soon. Ava is thrilled to be done with our old reading program and loving reading from Dick and Jane each day. Reading lessons are something to look forward to now!

Of course, the focus of the assessment was supposed to be on Lukas, so we moved onto his schoolwork quickly after our reading discussion. I showed her an unedited writing sample, we discussed math and his reading skills. I told her we didn't use a spelling curriculum, which she actually recommended last year when she saw Lukas' spelling skills which have developed solely from copy work, dictation and reading great books (all things Charlotte Mason). I was a little nervous that maybe we should start including a spelling curriculum(because I second guess myself even when I know it's supposed to work), but she didn't think we needed to do so. Shoo! I was relieved. After that, Lukas came into the room and read to her from Ben and Me, the current chapter book that he is reading. If you haven't read this book, it's adorable. Read it! That was about it. She signed our required form for the school district, and we were done!

I find that I actually  look forward to our assessment each year. I like that I have a professional who can answer my questions and offer encouragement. I know that I don't need that, but it does feel nice to know that someone thinks my child is doing as well as I do. 

Now my charge is to stay focused until we complete our school year at the end of May. This time of year, we all want to be outside. Lately, it seems like we have a lot of appointments on top of wanting to be in the back yard or at the park. School on the patio has been quite a treat the past couple of weeks! I've made the pleasant discovery that Lukas will read for twice as long independently if he does it under the maple tree. I'm all for that idea! Yesterday, I asked him to read from the book basket (books that go with our current unit in My Father's World). He took a book outside and read for 45 minutes! I was ready to move onto something else after 15, but he who is going to make their child stop reading when that child usually doesn't want to read at all??? That is not the point of this post, however, so I'll wrap this up. 

Assessment 2010 accomplished! I didn't need most of the contents of my gimungous tote, but, you know, there's something to be said for being well prepared (I hope). 

I'd love to hear about your assessment. Do you test or see an assessor? If you're in another state, what are your requirements? Leave me a comment and let me know. I love learning about these kinds of things!

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