A common question homeschool parents are asked is, “Do your children do tests or exams?”
And my answer is always, “No.” Well, not until their graduation year, when exam results are a requirement for acceptance into most tertiary institutions.
Testing is NOT needed in homeschooling because parents are almost always one-on-one with their child and can quickly see what their child knows and understands. Especially when using a Charlotte Mason approach, narrations are an excellent method of listening to or reading what a child remembers and understands on a specific chapter or topic. And for most seat work subjects like Maths, Spelling and Reading, you are right there with your child and can go back to re-establish a concept or correct a mistake.
Standardized tests are for public school parents, or for teachers of large classes, to measure each child’s basic knowledge or skills, or worse still, for schools to brag about their institutions’ achievements! With this kind of pressure, many teachers actually “teach the exam” rather than aim to educate the child.
Information and facts can always be learnt, at any time. Google helps all of us find information in a jiffy, so why waste precious time forcing a child to memorize facts? Narrations are personal, which is the aim of our homeschooling, isn’t it?
“Tests can’t predict who will “succeed” in life, regardless of your definition of success. Tests can’t tell a child how or even what he needs to improve.’
She lists some of these things tests can’t measure ~
- compassion or generosity
- imagination or creativity
- a child’s logic skills
- faith, trust, hope, reliability, or depth of character
- friendship or self-worth
- curiosity, effort, determination or resilience
- a child’s potential and diligence
In an article Kids Don’t Fail, Schools Fail Kids: Sir Ken Robinson on the ‘Learning Revolution’ she quotes Ken Robinson, (famous for his TED talk on the topic of whether schools kill students’ creativity),, “
“The government has essentially pushed for more and more nationwide testing in order to 1) standardize everything, and 2) try and improve education “through an intense process of competition.” He believes that the problem with standardized testing is that it “does not prepare kids to achieve.”
Ken Robinson’s own definition of education’s purpose ~ “To enable students to understand the world around them and the talents within them so that they can become.”
He encourages “personalized learning” without relying heavily on technology.
“But what’s most important,” he concluded, “is that every student deserves to be treated like the miracle that they are—with personalized, individualized education that addresses that “world within.””
Parents know their children. Homeschooling should be individual, tailor-made, delight-directed. Its pace and focus should be based on the individual’s ability and interest, not focused on tests, scores and exam results.
So, please hear me … especially parents of kindergarten, junior, middle and even junior high school, please do not buy curriculums that require regimented testing. You will kill your child’s creativity and natural love to learn. You will instil fear and anxiety into your homeschooling, both for you and your child.
Your child can learn how to learn for exams, how to write exams and how to succeed in exams in a relatively short time; within 6 months to a year. At the most, you may need to move towards tests and exams for their final 3 years of senior high school. And that is stress enough! With my 17-year old writing her final high school exams, I see her fear and anxiety. I feel dread’s icy grip in my stomach.
As Marie says, “Children everywhere deserve to know this: YOU ARE NOT YOUR TEST SCORE. You are so much more.”