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Like all of you, I'm a number of things to a number of people...Navy wife, homeschooling mama, educated woman and aspiring writer. Read my thoughts on all of it here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on all of it too!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Will They Learn Enough?

Scott (and others) had three main points he wanted to discuss in depth when the subject of homeschooling became something I wouldn't let him shrug off. He wanted to be sure they wouldn't turn out weird. He was worried I might go crazy. And he wanted to know how we'd be assured that they were actually learning what I was teaching.

I laughed at the first point. They're all a little odd in their own right already, but there's not a thing wrong with that. Everyone has quirks. Where they are educated doesn't say much about how eccentric they'll be in adulthood. And we'll keep them involved with other kids so they won't be sheltered and only exposed to me all day, every day. Now that would be scary, and not only for them. I might just go crazy if i were sheltered and only exposed to my three adorable, wonderful monkeys all day, every day. But since that won't be the case...maybe we'll all grow and learn, and not lose our marbles in the process. One can hope.

Now the third item was something that I wondered about too. I know there are two ways to keep progress in check in Washington, giving the kids a standardized achievement test or having their academic skills evaluated by someone certified in the field of education. That's according to the Washington Homeschool Organization. I get what that means, but I still don't know what that looks like. If the same person assesses the kids progress year after year then they'll see what academic growth has occurred. However, I don't know how they gage that the first year, but I'm guessing they'll simply be compared to others their age.

OK. So...what's that mean for me? Do I need to keep detailed records of everything we do? Do I need to assign grades to work? Do I need to have a portfolio of their lap books and art work and whatever else? In black and white...what do I need to do to assure the state that my kids are learning enough of the right stuff? This had become my biggest concern. Even so, I still wasn't super stressed about it. I figured once I got to Washington I'd connect with others and hear how they go about record keeping and academic evaluation.

Then, last night, I read something that took even the little weight from these questions, off my shoulders. Here's an excerpt from The Homeschooling Handbook, by Mary Griffith:

Consider, though, the matter of physical health: How do you tell when your kids are sick if you're not a doctor? It's easy to recognize a healthy kid, and most parents have little trouble determining when their kids are sick. At some point, parents may need professional help for a a diagnosis and treatment, but noticing that there is a problem in the first place is not something most of us have trouble with.
The matter of learning is pretty much the same. It's obvious when kids are learning, and it's a rare parent indeed who cannot tell whether kids are learning as they should be.

I read this and a big ol' light went on! Why, of course, I know when my kids aren't feeling well. And, better yet, I know when they are and aren't learning. I know when they're interested and how they show that they're not getting anything out of whatever is going on. Who can't read that glazed over look? In fact, our interest in how and what our monkeys are learning is the very reason we're going to be homeschooling.

Cool, huh? Nothing to worry about at all. Later in the chapter homeschooling parents give examples of how they keep records and why. I found something middle of the road that I think will work for us and tucked it into our mission statement (still a work in progress, but coming along!).

Another reassuring thing regarding learning...Jace read me a book in Spanish on the way home from school today. He doesn't know Spanish and I haven't spoken it in a decade, but it seems that he did OK, I guess. Why did he read me a book in Spanish? Well, he has a plan to be a commando or special forces agent, something in the military elite. He figures he'll probably end up in Iraq or someplace and need to talk to the enemy in their own language so that he can trick them and, therefore, he'll need to know a lot of different languages. He decided to get a book in Spanish from the library today so that he could start practicing.

Are you worried they won't learn enough?

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