The end of another school year is upon us.
Whoot whoot! You can't see me, but I'm doing a happy dance in front of my computer. (Actually, it's probably a good thing you can't see me, because I can't dance.)
Although our school schedule has morphed into more of a year-round schooling, we have a much lighter schedule from late spring through Fall. This allows me to focus more attention on my garden and preparing for the upcoming school year; it also allows the kids' brains a much-needed break and allows them to focus on hobbies, cottage industries, and other delight-directed learning opportunities. Needless to say, we are all looking forward to it!
If you're new to homeschooling, you might be wondering what's the best way to wrap up your homeschooling year. Or maybe you're not even sure what is required legally in your state. Here are some resources and suggestions to help you get started.
Know the Legal Requirements
Every state is different, but there are three basic options that are usually available to homeschoolers:
Standardized testing is the same testing used in public schools. No doubt you have fond memories of filling in those little bubbles with your number two pencil. (No? Maybe that's just me, then.)
Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler has a nice post on Choosing Standardized Tests. She describes 3 of the main tests available and where they can be purchased. Also, if you don't want to administer the test yourself, she gives testing services that are available.
Life of a Homeschool Mom also has some good information in her post Homeschooler's Guide to Standardized Testing.
One thing to keep in mind with standardized testing: The tests are based on a sampling of information that your child might have been exposed to. They are not always the most accurate reflection of your child's actual knowledge.
The third option is an evaluation. Basically this is a portfolio of your child's work that is evaluated by a teacher in your presence. The child may or may not be involved. According to Homeschool Legal Defense, this is an especially good option for
I recognize that not everyone has this kind of a relationship with their evaluator. I've heard horror stories of some moms leaving their evaluation in tears ready to ship their kids off to school on the big yellow bus! If you can't find an evaluator who is open to the merits of homeschooling, I would not recommend this option.
Take Time for Personal Reflection
Once the legal stuff has been taken care of (or maybe before, depending on your outlook), I recommend taking some time to reflect on the past school year. Think about what each child has accomplished in relation to where they were this time last year, not only academically, but spiritually as well. After all, we don't homeschool only for academic success. The Westminster Catechism tells us that the chief end of man is to glorify God and I firmly believe that a good education puts my children in a better position to glorify God with their lives. However, I am more concerned with their spiritual progress than academic success.
Along these lines, Marianne from Abundant Life has some excellent food for thought in her post How to Make an End-of-the-Year Assessment to encourage moms to reflect on the past year. She looks at things you would expect like academic progress, and others you might not have considered such as
It doesn't matter how you do it, but your kids need to be applauded for their hard work and to hear that you are proud of them. This is especially important for the kids who did not do as well as you had hoped or are struggling academically. Find something they did excel at and praise them. You don't have to cross every i and dot every t to feel a sense of accomplishment. Did your child persevere? Tell them how proud you are of their perseverance. Did they maintain a good attitude? That is a wonderful accomplishment that needs to be acknowledge! There is always something to applaud.
All Kids Network and Creative Certificates have some customizable free printable certificates that provide an easy way to add to your end-of-the-year celebration. Or, you can download the generic certificates below.
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