We unschool, but we have to follow the state laws which require the submission of annual evaluations of homeschooling children. This can be done a few ways, but what has been working for us is a basic standardized test. I like to order it early and get it over with. I’m most schooly in the weeks before I give them their tests. I actually give them problems to solve and paragraphs with mistakes to fix. They often surprise me with a thing or two that they know, that I hadn’t yet noticed they’d mastered.
Finally, a day will come when we find quiet time and motivation to get started on the test. The first couple of years, when the test was so easy it was fun, Rhiannon wanted to finish it all at once. She has had many laughs at the absurdity of some of the answer choices. The last few years we’ve done the language arts sections one day and the math sections another day. When they finish the test, I tell my girls, “Congratulations! You’re done with __ grade!” and we can return to our regular unscheduled lives.
Rhiannon just “finished 5th grade” yesterday, after completing the two math sections of the test, Computation and Concepts. She is finding the computation section much more challenging now than in the early years of elementary school — the language arts section continues to amuse her — and agreed with my suggestion that we could establish regular time periods for practicing math. Caroline is done with the math sections on her 2nd grade test, which were easy for her, but we haven’t made time for the language arts yet, which she is surely going to find challenging, if only because it will require her to read longer than she ever does usually. She is still determinedly reading Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, but it’s such hard work that she only wants to read about ten minutes at a time.
Despite having unschooled my kids for many years now, it continues to amaze me how much they learn with me facilitating and responding instead of assigning and telling. One concern of those unfamiliar with homeschooling, let alone unschooling, is that the child might miss out on something. I never was concerned about that because I realized that I missed out on a lot too, despite going to school. There is simply too much information in the world to learn it all! Furthermore, the world is changing so much. This blog post I read tonight says it well. Here’s a quote, which you can click to go read the whole post.
“80% of the most in-demand jobs of 2011 did not exist ten years ago. Didn’t exist! The people who are going out and getting these jobs are not the ones who learned everything they needed to know in school, but the ones who were not afraid to admit that they needed and wanted to learn something new. The ones who were eager and confident, the ones who enjoyed learning, enjoyed trying new things, and enjoyed being challenged.” from The Path Less Taken
My kids are on that path.