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January 2, 2009

Testing (ISAT)

I love my mom dearly and she is a good help and actually over all is supportive. (For those that my not know this is our first year of homeschooling; our kids were in PS {public school} we pulled them out). However she, like all good grandparents, is worried about how the kids are doing compare to their peers.

She called me this morning and in the course of talking to her my DS asked to play his video game. I had to tell him no not now after school. This of course prompted him to wanting to start school right then and there, but I had to tell him that he had to wait until I was off the phone. Mom being on the other end could hear some of my conversation with my DS so she asked what does he want. I told her to play his video game but I told him not now he has to wait until AFTER school. So now he wants to do school right now, but I told him that he has to wait until I'm off the phone. She chuckled and light heartily made statements about me cracking down the whip because right now the PS students here are still on vacation.

This prompted her to ask about ISAT and when I was going to have the kids take them. ISAT are the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. They measure individual student achievement relative to the Illinois Learning Standards. I tried telling my mom that I don't have to send the kids to testing. That I don't have to do anything like that by law. All she kept saying in reply, was then "How do I know that they are learning what they need to learn and that they are retaining it?"

I briefly mention that they are free sites and resource that tell you what your child should be able to do for each grade level. I also explained to her that every year the school district here on their web-page has an outline of what each grade is taught. I also went on to tell her that we are still friends with people that send their kids to PS, so I also ask them what their kids are learning, so I can compare. However, all of this didn't seem to matter she was still hung up on the testing.

Sure I could test my kids, there is nothing wrong with that. It's just that I don't want to send them to get tested by the state; especially seeing I don't have too. It's just one less thing for me to worry about. I'm thankful that IL laws are reasonable regarding homeschooling. It truly does allow the parents and child to have the freedoms to learn in a way that suits them best.

It's just hard to explain that to my mom. She love my kids dearly and like me want what's best for them. She respects me enough to be supportive of our choice to homeschool. I honestly believe that she feels that I'm doing what I feel is the best and she's okay with that. She is just worried and wondering if they are meeting the "standards".

Of course they are not meeting the standards. In some areas we are way above standards and in others we have some ground to cover. However, that's not because of homeschooling, we noticed we had some ground to cover BEFORE we pulled them out of PS. I'm not sure how they would do on a test, that's not how I measure if they know the material or not. Being able to communicate the material back to me is how I measure, being able to communicate the material to other people is how I measure.

What my Mom may not fully realize is that when this school year is done we are going to jump right into the next one. We are going to take a break but it will be a short break: 2-3 weeks no more, no less. There is no reason to have a 2 (almost 3) month vacation. I honestly believe it's those LONG breaks that cause information not be retained.

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