People homeschool for many different reasons. Some parents want their children to have better academic opportunities, or more religious instruction, or increased flexibility for sports or other extra-curriculars. Some children were bullied at school, or have learning limitations, or need accommodations that the public school cannot provide. Because of the diversity in the purpose of each family’s homeschool, they will measure success in different ways.
Academic rigor is not the reason I homeschool, therefore I don’t measure my children’s success based merely on their academic performance. I measure our homeschool success based on growth. How do I do this?
I want my children to grow as people – to be kind, generous, and thoughtful. I want to teach them how to have healthy relationships with their family, friends, and neighbors. I want them to be helpful and active in their community and learn how to interact with people of all walks of life.
Eli riding Zeke on the mower after mowing our lawn
I feel that, as their mother and teacher, I have a large influence over their life, especially in their early years. I can invest in their futures by modeling behaviors I’d like them to imitate and involving them in my volunteer work and community activities.
The boys working on an experiment in 4H
Mercie entered the pet contest for 4H with her chicken and won two awards
I can evaluate their personal growth by noticing different things: Are they kind to their siblings? Are they inclusive of other kids? Do they share? Are they offering to help clean up after a church function? Do they participate in conversations with people of all ages? Are they willing to do service projects with me? Do they complain when asked to volunteer? These questions and others can help me to measure their personal growth.
Even though I’m not worried about making little geniuses out of my children, I do want them to have a steady rate of academic growth. I want them to consistently make improvements and progress in math, reading, and grammar. I want them to read about history and make connections. I want them to do science experiments and see for themselves how things work.
I don’t give tests or quizzes in our homeschool very often. I don’t grade papers, and I don’t use a red pen to mark answers right or wrong! I don’t measure their academic growth by letter grades because I don’t think that’s an accurate measure. I am involved in their daily schoolwork so I can see daily what they have mastered and what they struggle with. I make accommodations if they need them to help them understand what they’re learning.
Learning to work together and with some distractions
I can see daily, weekly, and monthly the academic growth in each of my children. I can evaluate their academic growth by asking myself these questions: Are they moving forward in their math program or are we stuck on a concept? Do they pick up books to read on their own or am I coercing them to read? Are they active in discussions about history topics and science discoveries? Do they demonstrate any frustration with a subject? Is their handwriting improving or getting worse? Is their work consistently sloppy or neat? Can they write a good sentence? Do they speak using proper grammar?
Social and Emotional Growth
This is similar to personal growth, but it differs in a few ways. Social and emotional growth shows me how my child is maturing and learning to live in relationship with others. Being able to recognize and identify emotions is important for children and adults. Our emotions can often get the best of us and cause us to act in ways that are uncharacteristic and unhealthy. The ability to pinpoint our emotional triggers and outbursts and then react in the correct way is a life skill I want my children to develop early.
Titus with a group of friends at Rodeo Camp
Since I’m home with my kids all day long, every day I can help them learn to regulate their emotions. I can help mediate fights and arguments, talk about what makes them angry or sad and what we can do about it, and show them how to have healthy discussions about what they’re feeling. I don’t always do this perfectly! We have plenty of meltdowns and arguments around here. But I do teach them how to apologize and recognize their part in any squabbles.
Mercie (with the hat) with some rodeo friends
I measure their growth in this area by examining these areas in their lives: Are they frequently angry or upset? Do they lash out for seemingly no reason? Are they able to work with their siblings and other people? Do they apologize when they know they’ve been wrong? Are they able to forgive and move on easily or does it take work? Do they start fights or are they peacemakers? When they get frustrated, how do they respond? How do they react to stress? Are they outgoing or shy? Looking at the answers to the questions can help me see where my child may need some help and where they are developing strong social and emotional growth.
Fun at the park – I’m glad my kids will all play together
I am so grateful that I homeschool and can be involved in so many areas of my children’s lives and development. I hope that I am able to be an encouraging and motivating voice for my children so they will want to grow in all of these areas and more. How do you measure growth in your homeschool?
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