So how did your children do? How much did they learn? And how do you know?
While a box full of carefully completed workbooks may be enough to satisfy you that your children have amassed knowledge, there are other ways to evaluate what they know — and more importantly, what they will remember.
- Goal-based. For example, if the goal was for your daughter to learn her multiplication tables, you can easily assess whether or not the goal has been reached. Similarly, if your goal for your son was that he be able to read simple beginner books by the end of the year, you already know if that goal has been reached. This type of evaluation works particularly well for skill areas such as math, reading, and writing. The bottom line: When planning your year, diagnose each child’s needs and develop a plan to meet those needs. By laying the groundwork, evaluation becomes very simple.
- Personal observations. As your child’s tutor and mentor you probably already have some idea of what he knows, trouble areas that need more work and areas in which he excels. Your personal notes about your child’s progress will come in handy when planning for the next year.
- Narration. Have your child narrate, orally or in written form, a summation of what he has learned in content areas such as science or history. Perhaps he has a favorite area he can expand upon. This also works well for older children who have been researching a particular area of interest.
- Presentation. A final presentation can include visual aids such as illustrated posters, kits, constructed creations and inventions. This is also a good time to practice speaking in front of others.
- Portfolio. Need a home for all of those papers, drawings and creations you have accumulated by the end of the year? Pull together a sampling of the best of your child’s work to put into a notebook. You can take pictures of things that don’t fit nicely inside, while your child can label and describe the picture on a notebook page. Include a list of books read and areas studied. Your child can include a page on his favorite activities or things learned during the past year. Not only do these portfolios summarize a rounded learning experience, they also make nice keepsakes!
- Perform a skit. This works particularly well for history or literature. Your child can write the dialogue, create the costumes, pull together the props and enlist siblings or neighbors to help out in the presentation.
Workbooks frequently evaluate one discipline: a student’s ability to recall memorized information. Other evaluation tools can help us keep a handle on what skills our children are developing and how well they are synthesizing information.
Whatever methods we use, evaluation should simply be a tool that helps us more forward — not a task master — and should always be done in a spirit of edification.