Friday, September 14, 2012

Tests and Hawks

This week, we tested Lu's "standard" 4th grader skills. 

He did the language arts test in three sessions of 90 minutes each, and the math test in two sessions of 75 minutes. 

I mostly do this for the sake of learning how to take tests and not getting freaked-out-stressed-out-lose-your-head-crazy if and when the day come that he need to take a standardized test. And I don't spend any time on Lu studying for them, or prepping him in any way - except for the customary motivational speech on how tests are to help us see where we need to work harder, and not to make us nervous or scared.

Lu does NOT do well with tests. He'll have a full-on existential crisis if he thinks he doesn't know the answer to a question on a test. So I especially feel the need to do this a couple of times a year with him, and to work through the anxiety and fear. He did really well at learning to catch himself this time, and controlling the freak-outs.

We school from January-November, so we are at the beginning of our last trimester. I like doing the tests now so that we have time to strengthen skills, and the tests help me see which skills need strengthening. Of course, because they are not the official tests, I don't know how Lu really scores. I know how many answers he gets right, but I don't know what percentile he's in. And I don't need to know - as long as I'm sure that we've covered it all, which is really not a difficult or time-consuming thing to do. 

And you might just be starting to homeschool, and looking at all the stuff your kid is supposed to learn this  year, and you might feel overwhelmed... DON'T. It gets done. But you're not going to believe me until you've done your first year and realized that you had loads of time left over, and that there was no need to worry or rush.

It takes us five or six months to finish our standard grade level stuff, which leaves the other 6 months for fun projects, unstructured learning, and for practicing and strengthening skills. So now, knowing that we have covered almost all the standard stuff, this is what we've been doing:

We're using this new site for review and practice.

 Reading about Ancient Egypt.
In our History class this year, we studied the first humans all the way through the first civilizations. I had wanted to get as far as Greece, but it didn't feel right. Mesopotamia and Egypt were so mind-blowing, we decided to stick around a little longer. So we got some DK Eye Witness books on the ancient civilizations that we'd already studied, for Lu to read independently during the next three months. We'll start Ancient Greece in January, having really sunk our teeth deep into those first, awesome civilizations.

 Reading about Sailing on the Nile,
and explaining the keel of the boat to me.

We're using Khan for math daily, and we're finishing up our MEPYear4. I still can't believe that we're going to finish it! It seemed so impossible at the beginning of the year.

For Science we're watching BBC Life of Birds series, and the whole family (well, we're only three, but still...) has a new-found fascination for our feathered friends. Seriously, birds are awesome, and crazy, and do the most unexpected things. I'm totally tripping out on birds right now.

We're about half way through the whole series of 10 episodes, and the other night I told Lu that it'd be really cool if he could further research something from what we've recently learned about birds that especially interested him. 

Right away he said "Hawks!" 

The next day, he asked me if we could go by the stationary shop, and he bought a small notebook with his own money. As we were leaving the shop he told me that it was for taking notes for his research report! I was like - Dude, I would have bought that for you! And he responded: it's my education, I can put money into it too. 

Well, okay then! I can't argue with that :-)

Last year, Lu did an independent research report on the Saber Tooth Tiger.

I won't be helping him at all with this project - no editing, nada. It goes into our homeschool records as a true product of Lu's research and writing abilities. For me, this is the real language arts test. This is where I'll see how much he has truly retained.

("lover", hehe)

It's Friday. The weekend is here.
I'm going to go make myself a margarita now :)


  1. I found your site on the Secular Homeschooling website. You make it all seem so smooth and easy! Your a Documentory in real-time! Your sight is enchanting and lovely, and your homeschooling tips are a blessing to me. Then why do I feel so anxious and my daughter is only 3 1/2! If I can perform as a teacher even a whisp of how wonderful your family has demonstrated, I will be happy. Thank you for all your work, in sharing your family and homeschooling with us out here. Your efforts are greatly appreciated and will not go to waste! Your a wonderful Mentor and one of my schooling "Gurus"! Good night from Northern Wisconsin :-)

    1. Aw, thank you so much for your beautiful words Canoepatch. I am very touched, and so happy that you find what I share helpful.