Practice Test

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Sometime in January, both my children had to spend 45 minutes in a private school for a practice test, when they were in first grade. I could sit in the back of the room as long as I was completely silent. Many of us parents chose to do so and I know we all learned a lot through the experience.

Cat on a child's jacket

Our cat does not have to test. He just sits pretty on whatever jacket he can find on the floor.

The teacher up front read the test to the students question by question, explained how they are to think through the four answers given, and showed them on the board how to bubble in so that the computer reading the test results could pick it up.  Continue reading »

This is a preparation for the actual test which happens in March. The practice test is optional and so is the actual test, in first grade. But we chose to do it with both our children. We think it is good practice for the coming years.

Here’s the thing about testing: we don’t do much of it at home, because we do not think education means teaching to the test. But we chose to test the children once a year in an official setting so that our minds may be at ease that they are doing well on standardized tests and that they are not lagging behind their peers.

During the day of the actual test in March, parents are not allowed in the room. But for the practice test in January, as above, we have that option.

In Tennessee, homeschoolers must register under an umbrella school and follow the guidelines of that particular place. The umbrella school we chose only starts testing in second grade, with this optional first grade test and a practice test two months prior.

They have noticed that children who first come to do a practice test in January experience more ease and less anxiety in March for the actual test, which makes perfect sense. Tests and competitions are part of life, whether we like it or not. Homeschoolers who avoid tests at all costs may regret it later on, although it is a tough decision if your child experiences extreme test anxiety.

Thankfully, my children are not that way. They have some butterflies before a test, but who doesn’t? I don’t believe in shielding children from responsibilities and tests and competing against themselves or the computer or other children. It’s not the real world. But I do believe in preparing them well for tests.


Free Folk Music

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Just in case you did not know, at ReverbNation you can listen to free music created by people who are not rich and famous yet. Their songs are lovely. They speak about the human condition more so than the tunes that sell millions of records and win Grammy awards.

Ed Lee, homeschooling dad, folk singer, song writer

Ed Lee, homeschooling dad, folk singer, song writer

You can find country, folk, acoustic, alternative, pop and all kinds of other styles of music. Today, I would like to feature an artist I know personally: Edgar Allen Lee. We call him Ed. He and his wife homeschooled their children when it was not cool to homeschool, through the late 80s and 90s. Their son is a lawyer and their daughter, who has a college degree, works in the administrative office of an American symphony orchestra.  Continue reading »

Moreover, the Lee children have grown to become good Christian adults. Their mother, Lisa Lee, told me that her main goal in homeschooling them was to help them become her brother and sister in Christ. Ed and Lisa are wonderful educators who help others homeschool their children, too. You see, they work for the Berean Christian School Homeschool Umbrella Program in Knoxville, TN.

Ed is the coordinator of the Independent Study Program at the high school level and Lisa heads the K-8 homeschool program. We are registered under that umbrella program and that’s how we met and stay in touch with them.

Back to Ed’s music. You can listen to his songs in audio form only or watch some of them on video. Most of the songs talk about the beautiful nature of East Tennessee, where Ed grew up, and a simple way of life. For those who long for a less stressful existence, these songs are very inspirational.

There is a purity in the melody line and the words which cannot be denied. I believe it stems from the sincerity of the artist. One song deals with how Ed’s father became a deeply committed Christian and left alcohol behind, for instance. Merry As In Jesus (Not In A Bottle of Whiskey) touches me deeply because my own father had an alcohol problem. My sister and I never received Christmas gifts and lack of money was the excuse every time. But somehow there was always enough money for my dad to get drunk 52 weeks out of the year.

My father never overcame his alcoholism. In fact, it killed him. While it’s very sad, there is healing in knowing that God loved my father and knew his heart better that we did. God understands my father’s decisions and who am I to judge? I have left my father’s eternal destiny in God’s hands. God is good and I trust His ultimate decision about my father will be the right one.

A song like this, about Ed’s father’s victory over alcoholism, is therapeutic to me. To see others can break free from their drunken days through Jesus inspires me with courage and a desire to pray for others who are still clinging to the fellowship of the bottle.

If you ever deal with the death of a friend Samuel’s Song would be the song for you. Headed Up the Valley was written in the 70s and then completed in the 2000s – about what people did in Pikeville over the weekend. Daddy Joe describes Ed’s great grandfather, who provided for his family through hard work in a coal mine. My Family paints a touching portrait of the Lee family. Sweet Sixteen deals with the feelings a father experiences as his daughter turns 16. And there are other precious songs for you to discover in Ed’s repertoire.

Don’t you love songs which praise family values, honesty, hard work, and victory in Jesus?