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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How do you measure if your child has learned enough based on what he is interested in?

Part 4 of 5 Questions received after the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016.

My question is, Why should I measure their learning? What kind of yardstick should I use?

To gauge something means to set measurable parameters and that in itself can set the limit. Not that limits are wrong, but the fact is, this is their way of life. My children were not sent to school and I don't want to bring school home for them. The world will want to measure them, eventually, so I don't see the need to do it when they are young or worse because they happen to be interested in a subject/ topic: I suddenly have the right and/ or duty to come over and lord over the situation like some all knowing goddess who says what should matter when learning something because I will check it? I don't want that for myself.

My son asked for piano lessons. I think his older sister convinced him that playing the piano is a good idea. And here she is, reviewing the baby brother. 

Yes the big sister calls the little brother to review. They talk about piano stuff and what teacher Wendy said about this and that. Big sister is even more strict than the piano teacher according to the little brother. 

There's dynamics here that I can't even begin to explain but I see it and I am aware of it. Should I grade this? Should I give a star stamp to my son for being obedient to the older sister? Should I reward the older sister for helping the younger brother? I don't think so. 

I am not eager to put marks on what we are working on, even with Math, our only consistent academic work. Here is my son's math work a few months ago. As you can see he did not draw a line from the shape cone to the word cone. 
When I pointed this out to him, he said he has never seed a solid cone. All cones are hollow like an ice-cream cone and a party hat. And then he asked me if I have seen a solid cone. I said I couldn't think of one at the moment. I told him that there must be a solid cone somewhere, maybe a paper weight or something like that. He just nodded and we left it at that. If I were focused on scoring his work then I might have asked him to draw a line to the cone so I can give him a check mark and a score, discounting the fact he just mentioned. Would a move like that be fair or right?

As I have seen with my eldest child and now my second daughter, they are willing to do things needed when they are up to something. When they understand why they need tests like SATS, ALS, PEPT, ABRSM etc. they go ahead and do it. For my eldest child she now regularly reviews for quizzes and exams in University. Something that was not a regular thing when she was homeschooling. I am now convinced that such tests should not be part of childhood specially when there are very limited resources and opportunities to begin with, which seems to be the case with my second daughter.


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