It’s crunch time for this homeschool mama. After celebrating my 41st birthday last Sunday, I’ve been glued to my chair preparing the kids’ first quarter exams. If you’re not a homeschooler and you’re reading this post, you might ask, do homeschoolers have exams too? Yes, we do have exams, quizzes, and projects too.
To the homeschooling newbie, if you are using imported curriculum like Alpha Omega’s Lifepac, Abeka or Bob Jones, then you have no trouble with exams or quizzes. These are already included in the curriculum set upon purchase, which is just fantastic! You got it all covered, Mom!
But if you’re like me who opted for the local books, I have to make my own tests and exams. Let me share a few tips on making quizzes. These short tests are not limited to written questions and answers only. You can do oral quizzes with your kids by simply asking specific questions about previous lessons. Let it be a simple conversation without them knowing you are already grading them. This type is more relaxed and just top-of- head- answer-to-question type of discussion. Who knows your conversation can lead to a more in-depth discussion or it can inspire both of you to do an art project. Make sure that you take note of their responses and record them in your record book.
Also, the textbooks are filled with exercises after each lesson. You can choose any of the exercises as a quiz#1 or #2 or even part of their exams. I give 4-6 written quizzes per quarter and do more of the oral tests as possible.
You can also use your teacher’s manual/guide as an added resource for test questions. Most of the teacher’s guide I’ve had in the past have suggested long tests all laid out for us. Don’t be too die-hard about creating the “perfect” exam but make it simple yet challenging at the same time. You will find the right balance as you go along. Stop complicating your homeschool life 🙂 I’ve heard of some moms who swap their exams with other moms. You could do that too provided you are using the same curriculum 🙂
What I do is this:
First, I go back to our previous unit and review the lessons myself. I decide which topics to include in the exam. I check the exercises at the end of each lesson and add a few questions to my list.
Then, I decide on the type of exam (multiple choice, True or False, Identification or Essay) and the number of items.
I review my exams, type, and print. Don’t forget to answer them please! I made that mistake last year of not answering the exams I prepared and checking became too stressful because I had to go back to the book and search for the right answers.
The kids are reminded to review their lessons too prior to the testing. At times, they get too confident, lax and even have this “just to get it over with” attitude that they took the exam right away. The result is not good. When I show them the results they felt bad and realized their mistakes. They realized that they needed to review too even if they “already know it”. Of course, I give them another chance and let them review again and retake the test the following day.
For me, the goal of exams or quizzes is to check the how well the child retains the information given. Though the Department of Education has allowed home education as another route for parents to take, the homeschool parent-teacher is still bound by laws and regulations. And allowing the child to go through various tests is one of their requirements. We are simply complying. But if we have the freedom like other countries like the US, written exams or quizzes may be the least of homeschool parent-teacher’s concern. Because as homeschoolers we believe that there are other ways, more creative ways in fact, to highlight what the child knows. It’s not solely based on the number of correct answers on a test paper.
Since we have to adhere to such regulations, our homeschooled kids have to be tested too. But making sure that our kids get a perfect score is NOT our goal. Neither is memorizing facts presented in the books. If we are to follow the hierarchy of thinking, remembering is in the lowest level. Instead of absorbing facts and stuffing them all in their heads, why not encourage analytical or critical thinking, which is highest level in the hierarchy. This stimulates deep thinking, the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of things. Refrain from asking questions answerable by ‘yes’ or ‘no’ alone. Instead, ask probing questions that will make them think, reason and form their own opinions.
Preparing the exams is not all that toxic as some would assume. Customize your exams the way you customize your child’s schooling. Use available resources you have at hand and feel free to ask your homeschool consultants and other homeschooling moms as well. Again, homeschooling should not and cannot be accomplished alone. We all need each other’s encouragement in our chosen path of unconventional education.