Standardized Testing

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Last week, my children took their annual standardized tests at our umbrella school in Knoxville. In Tennessee, one can sign up under the local school district, or with an umbrella school. Umbrella schools come in different shapes, forms and sizes. Some are remote places that will not require much of you in exchange for the piece of paper which shows that you are not truant.

Terra Nova 3 test prep materials

Test Prep books we used – our test is called Terra Nova 3.

Others are local brick-and-mortar schools with a homeschool umbrella program. As such, they will give your child a diploma when high school graduation comes around. The diploma will not even mention the word “homeschool,” which makes the umbrella school hold parents to a high standard. Many such local umbrella schools require annual testing.  Continue reading »

Our umbrella school, Berean Christian School in Knoxville, requires testing starting in second grade, with an optional test in first grade. I know people who are not registered officially to homeschool for fear that their children will be required to test. The conspiracy theories abound among such people. That their children will freeze and not score high or, on the contrary, do a great job, but the test providers will give them a bad score, which forces the parents to put them in public school etc.

I have made up my mind that I will not be truant. We live in a free world, governed by laws. As long as I follow the law of the land, I want to believe that nobody will come knocking on my door to ask for my children. I have documentation on hand which shows we are registered legally for homeschooling in the State of Tennessee.

And if testing shows my children do not score well, then I am the first one to put them in a different academic environment or the change what we are doing. But, as it turns out, my children score well. We will only know the results of these tests in April, I think. Judging from the previous two years, we should be fine this year, too.

This year, one of my children said the test was “very easy.” The other one had time to draw three pages of detailed comics during the test – they finished that much ahead of the allotted time. So I am not worried.

We like to cover a lot of material before the test even though it is not an end-of-year test. This is simply a preparation for the ACT or SAT – whichever we will decide to take once college plans must be made. It is also a tool for me to know if we are doing a good job or not. If we have gaps in our knowledge, we had better know about it, right?


Our Fourth Homeschool Year Begins

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The other day I took the kids to the pool and an acquaintance asked if they start school soon. I knew that question implied that she thought they attend the local public school system. So I replied, “We homeschool, so we start whenever we want. But yes, we started Monday.”

Boy Starts Third Grade

Our son starts third grade.

She said, “Oh, cool. You homeschool. Is this your first year?” I said, “No, it is our fourth.” She said something positive about it again.  Continue reading »

I never know with people if they are positive just to be nice or if they really mean it. And I am aware that homeschooling can be done poorly. Teachers in public and private schools have shared with me that some homeschooling parents do not do anything with their children. After a few years, they put them in the school system and the teachers have to deal with the results of a bad homeschool.

Homeschooling can be done in many ways. There’s a homeschool flavor for everyone. But not teaching your children how to read, write, and do basic math is not acceptable. And money should not even factor in. Public schools ask for money at every turn of the semester, but they fail to produce results.

I have shared here several times about free homeschooling curriculum or inexpensive homeschool curriculum. The library is a treasure trove of living books which homeschoolers should prefer anyway over dry textbooks.

Girl Starts First Grade

Our daughter starts first grade.

Homeschooling does not have to take all your energy and time, either. When children are small, they can only do phonics for 10-15 minutes at a time. As they get older, they require less and less supervision from mom. Sure, it’s a commitment, but it does not have to overwhelm you because it is so efficient.

Homeschool schedules are flexible because you don’t depend on a committee to make changes. Also, because you want to give your children the power to make decisions to an extent, especially as they grow older and develop preferences.

So I encourage you to start your new homeschooling year with courage. Set your goals and write them down. Research shows written goals get accomplished more often than those we only think about.


SMHEA EXPO 2016

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On June 25, 10am-3pm, Smoky Mountains Home Education Association will present its second annual Homeschool EXPO in Knoxville, TN at West Towne Christian Church, 9300 Middlebrook Pike.

This is a free event. There will be an exhibit hall and several workshops on how to homeschool. Before the break out sessions, homeschooling families are invited to participate in a general session.

SMHEA EXPO

June 25, 2016
10am-3pm

Last year, this event drew about 200 families and they expect just as many if not more this year. Come be encouraged, make local connections, and pick up a tip or two or more for the next school year.

The vendors will have drawings and lots of cute mascots will be on hand for pictures with small children and children at heart. Last year, the Zoo brought several animals and had a seminar where the kids could pet a snake or a rat. Glad I was not there. Daddy took ours to that seminar while I was presenting in another room.

This year I will be speaking on two topics:

  1. 10 Foundational Principles for Preschool and Kindergarten – Laying a Solid Foundation: if you follow these principles, I guarantee your children will be read for first grade. Also, you will learn how these principles can be taken into the older grades.
  2. 10 Ways to Homeschool: you will learn more than one way to skin the homeschooling cat and how to choose the right one for your family.

So I hope to see you there. Please walk up to me and introduce yourself. I really enjoy meeting new homeschooling families.