Thursday, March 21, 2013

Testing Reveals More than Academics

Hurray!!  State testing is over today!!  Well...except for Matthew, who still has science left on Friday.  He told me he didn't mind though, because Miss Kathie, the Special Ed. proctor assigned to him, keeps bringing him special goodies.  He came out of the testing room yesterday with homemade scones!  Sheesh!  I asked how he rated, and he grinned and said, "It must be my gentlemanly charm."  Yea....riiiiggghhhttt.

I am so glad I have never made a huge deal about these state tests, even way back when we were in public school.  Angela and Olesya are already feeling bad enough about them this year.  After the school was forced by the state to raise them up a grade level to 6th and 7th, they are testing way above any of the material they have covered.  They were fairly solid in most areas for 5th and 6th, but Olesya was still pretty behind in math and will continue to be as there is something wrong there that I just can't figure out.  Both girls are doing fantastic in school, but with only 3 years of English and any sort of very good education at all, they are behind in many ways which matter only at state testing time.  Throw them in a grade level higher and it was a recipe for disaster!  However, they had a pretty healthy attitude overall, but both commented every day about how much was on the test that they had never seen before, and hoping they didn't score too low.  I asked them, "Score too low for who?  Me?  I am your teacher, remember?  And I already KNOW what you don't know, and I already KNOW you will eventually know it, so in the long run, what does it matter?"  That seemed to help them keep perspective.

Joshie's test proctor was laughing yesterday when I signed him out as she said, "Your son has the most eclectic reading tastes of the whole group.  He went from King Tut to Elvis Presley to Abraham Lincoln over the past three days.  I wish we had a fourth day to see what he would bring in next!"

Kenny, however, came out of the testing for the first year feeling incredibly confident!  Wow!  That was wonderful to see.  Not cocky, just saying he knew he had done pretty well on it, and he said, "Mom, this was the nicest testing I've ever done.  For once I didn't feel like a dummy in there.  It was actually kind of fun!"  Moments like that are when I realize the past four years have been totally worth it, even if it has been challenging for all of us.

One thing I realized, while standing around visiting with other mom's who were proctoring, was how very, very lucky I am with homeschooling.  It isn't something I have ever given much thought to, because it has always been like this for us, but every single other mom was complaining about how hard it was to motivate their kids, and how they sometimes want to give up and send them to public school because of the constant daily battles over getting work completed.  This was a real eye opener for me, as from day one I have never had that problem, not once.  The kids aren't perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, (OK...I ME they are pretty perfect!!  But I know to others they aren't! Haha!) but they get up every morning ready to work and learn, they never argue or whine about what they are assigned, they are diligent and try their best each and every day without complaint.

Matt's Miss Kathie said to me yesterday after testing, "No wonder you love homeschooling, I would too if all your kids are like Matt!  He is the most organized 13 year old I've ever met, and such a happy kid for his age...most are usually so sullen."  I guess I have blessings I wasn't even aware of to the degree I probably should be.  As Joshua wakes up each morning and breaks out the computer for his math before I even arrive at the table, or as Angela comes to me and says, "Mom, don't forget to add in five hours of reading I've done over the past two days." I think I need to be a lot more grateful.  Sometimes we don't see the blessings right before us, but as other moms talked about back talk from their kids, lying about getting work done, and having to ride them constantly, I realized how very, very easy God has made it for me with our sweet five kids.  Maybe God knew I couldn't handle this with all the special needs we have if I had to deal with attitude as well,because I am just not that patient.  I had many moms look at me when they learned I homeschooled five with a lot of special needs thrown in and say, "Oh man, no way would I try that...I can't do it with two!"...I couldn't either if my days were like theirs.  The frustration was so evident in their faces, and they wanted so much to do a good job with their whose test scores will come back higher than ours.  It was just what I needed to remind me of the relative little importance of the past few days, and I said a little prayer asking for peace in the homes of these moms who are struggling so much every moment of the day.

We'll get past this week, and back to finishing up our year in anticipation of the Great Westward Expansion Escape trip!  I had a mom come up at testing yesterday and ask me if I would send them postcards along the way on our trip so they could follow us.  What a great idea!  That will be fun, especially since two of her kids were adopted from Russia and are on the kids' volleyball team, so we will look for special cards for them that reflect our trip's purpose.  I can't really think about it much right now, even though it is 3 weeks away, because the end of ski season is always the roughest as Dominick is wiped out, we are in great need of time alone...and awake...together, and we have tons to finish so our school year is completed by April 15th, the day we leave.  I guess I'll start the real planning on...oh...let's say April 14th. Hahaha!

Off to get some laundry done, some kids moving, and the day officially started!


Lindsay said...

Love reading about your homeschooling and so great to hear that Kenny's confidence is up.

For Olesya it might be worth your while investigating Dyscalculia for her, a learning disability which affects the acquisition of arithmetical skills.

Kris C. said...

Your kids really do sound lovely, but I would bet it also has a lot to do with what a wonderful job you're doing as parents, too. Kudos to you all! -Kris

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kris. It has a lot to do with the loving, dedicated parents the two of you are, but I chuckled at Lindsay suggesting you look into discalculia for Olesya. It's an excellent suggestion. I agree with it. It's just that I think someone should have handed you a sheet of all the "dis--"'s with their definitions when you first started homeschooling. You could have used it as you went along--nope, not that one; possibly that one, can't tell, yes. Maybe taking them one by one makes it easier to find resources one by one. You could retire from homeschooling into being a resource consultant. You would already qualify for a degree at a school like Regis where they let you design your curriculum and complete it in your own community.

Just some thoughts,