What tools do you use to evaluate your kids in each subject (other than standardized testing)?
The most effective (and cost effecient!) evaluation tool we have at our disposal is the art of conversation. To truly understand something is to be able to fluently discuss it. A conversation will quickly expose any gaps in knowledge. We use conversation as an evaluation tool across the curriculum in our homeschool. When my girls were younger they would do what others call “narrations”. You will find some great suggestions for narration starters HERE. Our “narrations” were more give-and-take conversations and they revealed how much my children were listening, comprehending, and retaining. As they’ve grown, these conversations have matured into critical thinking exercises. More than just the facts learned, I want to know their opinions, how they apply what they’ve learned to their lives, and if what they’ve read lines up with Biblical truth. When you encourage your children to talk, talk, and talk some more, evaluation becomes easy.
Another evaluation tool we use is games. We play all kinds of games, at least a couple of times a week. Through these games I can evaluate areas that need improvement. Some games are store-bought, others are homemade. Some are general, others are topic specific. Some are planned, others are spur of the moment. Games like THESE were especially useful in the primary grades. It gets a bit tricky to come up with games that will challenge a secondary student. By playing games you can evaluate your child’s knowledge in a fun way, without the pressure of testing.
At times I will use my children’s peers as discreet evaluation tools. Making sure not to get in a comparison mindset, I keep my finger on the pulse of what their friends are learning, both in school and out, so that I can gauge any areas my girls need work. As Henry Ward Beecher said, “A child is not educated who has not physical education, social education, intellectual education, industrial education, professional education, spiritual education.” Peers are especially helpful in evaluating these various aspects of my children’s education.
The most important evaluation tool I use is prayer. I don’t put a lot of credence in the world’s idea of evaluation. It is easy to get caught up in a humanistic standard of what defines high quality academics. Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” I therefore ask the Father to evaluate my children and to point out areas where their education needs improvement. I ask Him to show me what they need to fulfill His will for them. He answers me in amazing ways. Sometimes certain books will just fall in my lap. Occasionally my children themselves will come and ask for help improving in a certain area. Other times He will speak through my husband, gently recommending a change in this or that. But He never fails in my requests to better ourselves for His purposes.
How would y’all answer this question?