Ugh . . . I don’t like the standardized tests, but we are required to take one yearly under Minnesota homeschool laws. The compromise is that although we need to sign a form saying that we are taking the test (ideally naming the test and the tester), we don’t have to report the scores to anyone. I guess we just need to say in writing that we promise to assess our children objectively at least once a year?
So we did our nice, quick Peabody again this year. We know our tester, who is a social worker and a homeschooler as well, and she makes the test pleasant and painless. Though we do the test primarily to follow the law, I do try to take practical info away from it.
I’m pleased to see that Violet’s average score went up about 1.5 years in the past year, especially because her main progress was in the “content” areas: science, geography, art, etc. She’s managing to learn some things about the world around her, whether I can see it or not. I’m prompted to keep doing our rather straightforward, dry geography lessons occasionally, as they seem to be sticking. And I think the basic terminology of “social studies,” especially as it relates to forms of social organization and communities, is an important undergirding for her interest in history.
I do wish her math score had gone up more, especially since we covered so much ground in the last year. I guess some of that was just catching up to where she was conceptually already, because her score on the test barely went up a year. According to the test, we have her placed correctly, but she seems to have a hard time retaining things in math. The areas where she stumbled or passed on the question are things she’s done successfully in the past. (She also has a tendency to pass without really looking at the problem.) Once again, appropriate math instruction eludes me! I’m back to the perennial question: review to retain, or progress and allow review to happen in the context of more advanced work? I think developmentally she’s plateauing for a bit in math (our nanny is a child development major, and we chatted about research on math regression during the middle-elementary years).
One downside of this test is that she is hitting very near the top on the reading and spelling sections (she’s at the top in spelling), so year by year she can’t increase very much there scorewise. That means her total/average score can’t really reflect her total/average growth (or at least, growth in terms of the areas covered on the test).
I must tell you, I had been composing a post in my mind where I pleaded for help, because my daughter had actually gone backwards on the test, and that our homeschooling was a total bust, and my parenting a general failure. Think maybe I was a little anxious about it? I would never suggest to someone that a test score was an adequate assessment of his/her homeschooling, but nonetheless I will take a little validation for our choice where I can get it!
In other news, and slightly related, Violet begins rehearsals tonight for her musical! She has a bit part, which I think will be just perfect for her first time. She is so very self-conscious. I am really pleased with the directors of the show. During the audition they were just as sweet and funny as could be, and took every chance to coax Violet out of her shell (yes, she has a shell, when she feels she’s being watched). They were very complimentary about her singing, and they laughed at her line readings, and they were very patient when it took her a few tries to get up the courage to actually start her monologue. At one point before she started, she turned to me and I was worried she was going to cry, but then she stopped talking to me mid-sentence, turned around, and started.
I am so hopeful that this will be a great environment for her to learn about theater and experiment with acting. I hope it will be another outlet for her, like piano and drawing, where she can feel OK about putting a bit of herself out there.
Because she’ll have rehearsals twice a week, we’ll pull back on the math, I think. She’ll have plenty to be thinking about and learning, and we can do some review of those things I thought she already knew!