This post was originally published as the introduction to an issue of TheHomeSchoolMom newsletter. Sign up here and get access to subscriber exclusive resources.
The seasons of spring and summer bring me the "homeschool evaluation season," which starts slowly in April and builds to a crescendo by August 1, when homeschoolers in my state have to submit an annual assessment. I love my work visiting with homeschoolers and writing letters about their learning.
I wish you could be with me when I review homeschool learning.
Some of the things I've seen as a homeschool evaluator:
- citizen science projects including bird and butterfly counts
- turtle hatchlings rescued from a construction site
- top speed Rubik's Cubers
- book lists a mile long
- a tree house incorporating all the basic simple machines
- kid-written code
- Egyptian pyramid reproductions in Minecraft
- homemade books of original poetry and art
- award-winning essays
- unit studies on horses, electricity, ballet, French cooking, and volcanoes
- original stop motion claymation-type videos
- original songs played by talented homeschooled musicians
- knitted mathematical patterns; generous volunteer work
- online photography galleries
- stories written in multiple languages
- and lots of completed curriculum and projects
Families are out there doing things that work, and a lot of it doesn't look much like school despite the rich learning that's taking place.
Whether you submit assessments each spring or summer by law or not, many homeschoolers use the traditional academic calendar or are affected by it, as activities like co-ops, Scouts, soccer, and youth theatre groups follow the public school year.
Come April, many homeschoolers look over a shoulder at the months gone by in the current school year. At the same time, you look ahead to see how you will adjust and prepare for the coming year.
Whether you're in an assessment state or not, there's evaluation going on.
Does hatching duck eggs count for science? (yes).
Does reading books to the dogs at the animal shelter count as language arts? (Yes).
Does playing Yahtzee count as practicing math facts? (Yes).
Does using redstone in Minecraft count in learning about electrical circuits? (Yes).
Does using Spanish while playing soccer count as practicing foreign language? (Yes).
Can we just live and learn and not count every little thing? (Yes).
Homeschooling parents are sometimes plagued by concerns about doing "enough." As we turn the pages on the calendar during what I call "evaluation season," I wish for you confidence to do the next thing your child is ready for, along with an understanding that this will always be enough.