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"Testing... 1, 2, 3"?

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, August 18, 2006

==========================================================
The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
==========================================================
Vol. 7 No 33 August 18, 2006
ISSN: 1536-2035
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Copyright (c) 2006 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net
==========================================================

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!

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=================
IN THIS ISSUE:
=================

Guest Article
-- Testing... 1,2,3?
Helpful Tips
-- Writing Works
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Editor's Pick
-- Ellyn Davis Article
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

======================
Guest Article
======================

Testing... 1, 2, 3?
by Karen Lange

I had issues with standardized rests. Did they have a place in
the homeschool picture? I wasn’t sure. My patient husband
endured my soapbox tirades:

“Tests don’t measure a child’s character, common sense, and
other life skills! A standardized test doesn’t reflect a child’s
inquisitive nature! They often reflect short-term memorization!
Parents usually know what their kids know! Material on stan-
dardized tests may not reflect homeschool curriculum, so results
could be inaccurate!”

While homeschooling, we lived in New Jersey, where testing isn’t
required. In the early years, I didn’t give my kids many formal
tests. (Surprise!) Despite my feelings, I knew tests were neces-
sary and I needed to address the issue.

Even if kids don’t choose college, they face tests for a driver’s
license, job placement, occupational certifications, technical and
trade school admission, etc. Even clubs (4H, scouts), and
summer jobs (lifeguard) can require tests. So, where is the
balance?

I wanted to give my kids a healthy perspective and minimize the
negative aspects. They needed good test taking strategies. I
desired their best effort with the least stress. They needed to
know that their worth didn’t hinge on the results. Maybe you
agree with me, maybe not. Maybe you test your kids yearly to
check progress, or it’s mandatory in your state. In any case,
there are simple ways to encourage test readiness and maintain
balance. Over the years, I researched test methods and learning
styles. I observed kids of all ages and abilities and considered
what I was already doing with my kids. I put it together for a
more effective strategy than the soapbox speeches.

During the elementary years, I realized I was already quizzing the
kids. We discussed nature hikes and talked about snakes and
other things they found in the backyard. They enjoyed spelling
bees and games we’d play while driving. We used flash cards,
board games, and educational software.

These simple things helped them recall details and sharpen
thought processes; all good tools to test knowledge and reinforce
information without pressure.

I decided to familiarize the kids with different formats such as
matching, fill in the blanks, and multiple choice. We discussed
how to think through and answer questions. I had them make up
games with information from our unit studies. (Much can be
learned when preparing to teach or test others.) They really got
into this, sometimes adapting a board game or making up their
own.

I recommend waiting to give standardized tests (unless it’s re-
quired) until age nine or ten. In the meantime, make up your own
tests. Don’t use every test at the end of every chapter, or quiz on
everything you’ve studied. Incorporate it in small ways; don’t take
the fun and spontaneity out of learning. Don’t eliminate the
interest directed discoveries! Once they know their math facts,
consider using timed computation tests. Set your own times, if
necessary, to start. Set a few goals; introduce these slowly, even
a couple times a year.

If your kids are older and haven’t had much testing experience,
never fear! My oldest son, now in his twenties, didn’t take many
tests until high school and has lived to tell about it. He just
graduated with a degree in mechanical drafting with a GPA of 4.0.

Test older kids in small groups so they learn to tune out distrac-
tions. Discuss format and how to think quickly and efficiently.
There are high school materials such as GED, SAT, and ACT
test prep books, also books with tips on how to study and test
well. Teens can meet and study or quiz each other. One of our
homeschool co-op sessions included career testing for teens. It
wasn’t our most popular session in their eyes, but it was good
experience.

Test preparation should only be a small part of your homeschool
experience. Make it a goal to focus on the process rather than
the outcome.

Encourage kids to do their best, but don’t stress over results.
Results shouldn’t be the determining factor in who they are.
Encourage them in this process – it is a part – but not the only
thing in life! No matter what path they choose, if they are
equipped with skills for life, they will succeed.

Someday they’ll thank you!

---

Karen Lange is the wife of the above mentioned patient husband,
mother of three grown children (all homeschooled), a freelance
writer and homeschool consultant, and the creator/instructor of
the Homeschool Online Creative Writing Co-op for teens. Visit
her website! http://www.hswritingcoop.bravehost.com

---

Comments about this article? Send your emails to:
heather@familyclassroom.net

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================
Helpful Tip
================

"I thought I would share what we did one year that actually helped
to raise the test scores on the SAT that my kids are required to
take each year. We had moved to a new church and were having
trouble meeting new people. So we asked for lists of the kids in
each child's class and then we prayed for each one and wrote
them letters saying we had prayed. I would go over the letters and
show the kids where they could improve but I didn't make them
rewrite -- just showed how they could have been better. Because
we have five kids in our family the kids receiving the letters would
be very excited to receive such a thick envelope. They usually
looked us up on Sunday so we got to meet someone new each
week. It was lots of fun! One of my boys who was aspiring to be
a comedian even made a comic routine about how crazy home-
schooling moms are... his made him write to strangers! Well I
hope this helps someone." -- Dawna

---

Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net


===============================
Last Issue's Reader Question
===============================

"I would like to know if there are any homeschoolers who have
had their teenagers take college courses with their local com-
munity college or online. My daughter is 16 and I'm considering
having her take a basic computer class through our college.
What do you think?" -- Sandi

=========================
Our Readers' Responses
=========================

"My daughter is 16 and we are currently in the enrollment process
for the local community college so she can take a chemistry class.
I am not well versed in upper math and science and thought this
might be a good alternative. We also thought it might be a good
way to introduce her to the college experience and give her a
chance to mingle a little bit with this type of college environment as
preparation for her four-year college experience. Some of the follow-
ing may not be issues for you, but I thought I would give you our
thought process and experiences in case any of it is helpful.

Our first concern was for the environment my daughter would be
facing. According to recent studies, most college professors admit
to being quite liberal and tend to have a very liberal agenda in the
classroom. Media reports show that many professors are not very
tolerant of Christian views, so one of our concerns was that she
might encounter some problems as a Christian. She is very strong
in her faith and has excellent communication skills so we are not
as concerned that this will be a problem for her. We feel that if
there is a conversation of this nature, she will be able to handle it
with grace and confidence.

When it came time to apply for concurrent enrollment, we did en-
counter a few snags. First, the college has a policy of requiring all
concurrent students to register last. My daughter won't be able to
register for the class she needs until August 21st, at which time, it
is very likely that the chemistry classes will all be full. There is
only one community college in the area so there is really no alternative
unless we are willing to drive her an hour or more down the hill. We
are currently looking for an alternative homeschool course to prepare
for this possibility.

Another issue might be that some community colleges require all
students to take a placement test in order to apply. My daughter is
fairly comfortable with tests and usually tests well, but some kids
are not good test takers or get nervous during a big test like this.
The test is in a huge room with lots of other students of all ages.
In our case, the test is given only once and may not be taken again
so there is a little pressure there to do well.

The biggest hurdle we had is not quite over either. The community
college and public schools up here are almost anti homeschooling.
In order to register for classes as a concurrent student, they require
a signature from the guidance counselor. They require that all home-
schoolers have the public school district sign off on it. I called
HSLDA to ask about our rights as homeschoolers not to alert the
public school district to our situation and they advised that the
college cannot require this. I thought it was silly to require a public
school official to sign a letter attesting to the fact that a student he
never met is ready for a college course anyway! A letter was draft-
ed and sent on our behalf to the college. We are now waiting for
her registration date in order to turn in this paper with the "proper
signature". I am not sure if they will notice that the signature on
the paper has the same last name as my daughter and, if they do
notice, what they will do.

I hope that helps in some way. I think the experience of a commun-
ity college at this age could be good for them, but there are also
some considerations and logistics."

-- In His Service, JoJo Tabares - http://www.ArtofEloquence.com

---

"I have to weigh in on this one. I was homeschooled from junior
high through high school. I went to a Jr. College for two years,
moved to a state school for the last two, then completed veterinary
school for four more. Homeschooling is about taking advantage
of resources available to you to do what? You are shaping your
daughter into a woman of character, grace, responsibility, know-
ledge and a shining star of God’s love.

Having been in the JUCO system following a great homeschool
preparation, I would eagerly agree that it is a good place to begin
college. That said, I would be extremely hesitant to enroll my
daughters in a class at 16. Get a tutor to come into your home,
meet at the library or church, or join a 4-H group. One-on-one is
much better, and will probably cost about the same. In my ex-
perience, there are some things that can just wait. College-level
socialization is one of them. Junior colleges attract a spectrum
of people indifferent walks. Not all of them are good to be exposed
to at any stage of life, but most especially at 16. She probably
has the heart and head knowledge to stay focused, do well, and
be a light in the darkness, but what’s the rush?

Do you want to better prepare her for college? Do you want to
give her good skills to succeed? Cultivate her self-learning skills.
Deepen your relationship with her at this stage of life (I know it’s
hard!) Draw her toward our Father. She cannot fail." -- Carla B.

---

"I am a homeschool mom of 5. Although I was not homeschooled,
I did take college classes starting in my junior year, one at a time.
I found this to be a good experience. Some of my classes my
mom even took with me -- I loved that! I think many homeschooled
children are emotionally more ready for college than their public
school counterparts. She may find she has a lot to offer to the
class and the other students." -- Kandi in OK

---

"Last year our seventeen year old took Spanish 1 and Spanish 2
at our local community college. It turned out to be a great experi-
ence. Because of the subject matter, we had no problems with
doctrine or belief issues. We wanted to try again this fall but did not
find a course we needed that we felt comfortable with. We will try
again for the spring semester. It was a great way to give her "class-
room" experience yet it was on a very limited basis." -- Diane

---

"I have 3 graduates from my homeschool - ages 23, 22, and 18.
All three took classes at our local community college. I would
highly recommend it. It's a good way to get classroom experience
before college, it gives your child a chance to interact with usually
older and more mature students, and it looks great on a transcript
for college. For that transcript, I counted a one semester college
course as either one year high school credit or one semester high
school honors credit and noted on the transcript that this course
was a college credit course and gave the name of the community
college. And of course the credits earned transfer if your child does
go on to college after high school (2 of mine did, 1 didn't)." -- Jean

---

"Sandi, I would highly recommend that you read the book
"College Without Compromise" by Scott and Kris Wightman.
It is excellent and would answer a lot of your questions, as well
as give suggestions on how to bring college courses into your
homeschooler's schooling. You can read more about the book,
and purchase it, from the Wightmans' website."
http://www.homeschoolsampler.com/cwc.html -- Mindy

---

"Our son went to the community college during his junior and
senior years of high school. It was a tremendous blessing to him.
He realized the skills he had developed home schooling were real,
valuable and reaped great grades. He is moving onto a 4 year Bible
college and either tested out or had already taken the majority of
"freshman classes" so he is able to take additional courses that he
would have to wait semesters to take.

The exposure to a diverse group at comminity college was a good
experience for him. He is very social and was able to talk to others
about Christ who he may have never been in contact with. We have
a large group of home schooled kids that take courses at community
college in our area." -- Melinda W.


=========================
Answer our NEW Question
=========================

"I just starting to homeschool. My son is 6 and very active. After
praying about how and what I am going to use to teach him, aside
from the Bible, the Lord brought to my mind using my son's love
of the outdoors as the basis. My question is, has anyone done a
study of outdoor survival, or is there curriculum for the learning
of how to live outdoors? My son recently watched "My Side of the
Mountain" and all I am hearing is that he wants to do what that
boy did... go away and live in the wilderness! Any suggestions
will be helpful. Thank-you." -- Suzy

---

Do you have an idea for Suzy?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

=====================
ASK YOUR QUESTION
=====================

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!


==================
Editor's Pick
==================

Ellyn Davis has written the first part of a really good article!

"Your Child's Emotional Bank Account"

http://www.homeschoolmarketplace.com/e-zines/ejournalaug1506.html


=====================================
Our Searchable Newsletter Archive
=====================================

Access the Homeschool Notebook issues you have missed...
or search on a specific word or phrase in issues all the way
back to January 2001! Just go to this link:

http://hub.thedollarstretcher.com/cgi-bin/lyris.pl?visit=hs-notebook


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Here is the link to sign-up!

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