Updated: Mar 27
Piecing together a homeschool plan can be overwhelming. Focusing on this one thing, makes plannng clear and simple.
The most important part of planning your homeschool year is testing. Plain and simple. Now before the anti-testers click away, let me explain...
Just like all important things in life, from car safety, to diagnosing disease, to ensuring the efficacy of condoms, to determining pregnancy, dating to determine marriage suitability, to squirting infant formula on your arm to test the temperature: testing provides the data necessary for success. Learning is no different. Testing is the process of collecting important data that can be used to guide instruction. Even if you unschool, testing can be a helpful for guiding facilitation.... Let me finish...
Tests have a bad rap. They have consumed the public education system to such an extent, that to many, tests are the antithesis to everything homeschooling represents.
I am not talking about standardized tests...unless that kind of testing works for you, of course.
What I AM talking about is an easy, pressure-free, untimed, unconventional ASSESSMENT that allows the student to demonstrate their abilities in ways they are comfortable. It meets them where they are at. ...Yes, there is a test like that available. It is an ASSESSMENT, not a standardized test, and it's highly accurate. Learn more about The Baseline.
Whenever you embark on a new year, or at least periodically, it is important to get a base line of where your child is at, not only academically, but also in terms of interests, and goals, Moreover, it is a time to take stock in the family’s goals, and current lifestyle.
For example, did your family recently move? Are you about to?
Will you be doing any travelling? Is your family expecting a new addition? Have they expereinced a loss?
Is there a chronic health issue?
Are there new work or obligatory schedules that are new or need incorporating? These are the types of questions that will greatly impact your learning schedule. By taking a few minutes to assess and consider them, you are less likely to risk burn out, more likely to create a sustainable schedule, and reach goals that you set for yourself and your family. Your family will be all-around more successful at homeschooling.
More on Academic Assessment
Why Assessment is Important
As I mentioned before, assessment provides you with a base line from which to build from. You know what your child knows, what they need to learn, and how best to accomplish that. Nobody likes rework. It is a poor use of valuable time. There is also no reason to engage in a task that is boring, redundant, too difficult, too easy, or completely irrelevant. You can avoid wasting time by starting your academic year off with an assessment.
It is very difficult not to start a textbook at lesson one, then move through it chronologically. It feels unnatural to skip lessons, even if you think your child might have a good grasp of the content already. Assessments let you know at what grade level your child is performing, their strong areas and in what areas they are weak. They make it much simpler to pick and choose the topics and activities to focus on and which to skip altogether. Moreover, assessments can prevent us from buying too much, or buying the wrong materials.
Year after year, parents flock blindly to conventions where they buy with great intention, every cool and shiny program, book, and do-dad they encounter, only to have it collect dust in a closet. Ulimately it all winds up being sold or given away because it was a poor fit for the child. I too have been guilty of this. I had boxes of brand new books and kits that never were used because I purchased with my eyes, and without a data-backed plan. Homeschool planning can be exceptionally overwhelming. We are bombarded with advice from all sides. Everyone has an opinion, or something to sell. Once I slowed down enough to block out all the opions, I stopped looking at every Pinterest idea, and took the time to assess my own kids, things became much easier, and for once there was money still in my wallet after convention season. Data brings clarity, and clarity leads to confidence. Both reduce stress.
If you are ready for some stress-free clarity in your homeschool, then it's The Baseline is what you want.