Friday 9 May 2014

Assessment 2013-2014

There are times when this year seems a blur of teaching reading and then teaching reading again. It is easy to feel weighed in the balances and found wanting. Yes, this is probably true but it is helpful to sit back and assess what has happened and what has gone well. It is also worth thinking about what has gone less well but probably not so profitable to be shared!

One of the downsides of being a home educator is that it can be difficult to fine tune.  These thoughts are offered in the hope that they may encourage others and by explaining where I would have improved, help to fine tune these ideas. This assessment is really around components of the education of my younger two aged 5 and 7. I teach my teenage child less as much of his learning is provided either on line or through a tutor.

Memory Work. I have worked on teaching the younger two a Bible verse per week. This has worked well. Sometimes, this has been learning with the children rather than me teaching them. We have found that adding in a visual component helps both reading and learning. This can mean sorting the words into order, rubbing them off a chalk board or copywork. Using the Bible on the Kindle while I read an ordinary Bible is popular too. The Kindle means that the font can be altered to enormous.

Fine tuning: learning more than one verse per week hasn't really worked for my 5 and 7 year olds plus we could do with more regular review.

Singing. We have tried to sing a hymn each week that we either sing in church or the children sing in Sunday School. We sing the hymn about five times in the week.

Fine tuning:We aren't the most musical of families so sometimes working out the tune to which a hymn is sung in Sunday School can be challenging. It has been helpful for the children to recognise and be able to join in with the singing.

Poetry: a poem per half term. The poems that we have used have been
  • Cats sleep anywhere
  • Walking through Woods on a Snowy Evening
  • I wandered lonely as a cloud
  • The months
  • What is pink?
Fine tuning: We have read the poem about three times a week along with a few others often including the one that we are reviewing.
Cats sleep anywhere was most successful probably as it seemed relevant.

 I wandered lonely as a cloud wasn't really a hit-sorry Wordsworth! The months performed a useful function in sorting out the order. We added a months puzzle and daily date review.

Chapter books: This year has really marked the end of picture books as main reading material for Youngest Son. As a result, my husband and I have been reading aloud many chapter books. We have also begun to explore the world of audio books. I'm hoping this is a temporary phase before the children take over their own reading.
Fine tuning: I would like to link the chapter books into our history and geography studies in a more intentional and organised way.

Our favourite books have been
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Rebecca Davis' books Stories of God at work
  • Jungle Doctor
  • Various Enid Blyton adventure books
  • The Railway children-I read this aloud last year but my husband reread it to Younger Daughter this year. It was probably a greater hit second time round!
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Regular phonics and maths: of course, we have done this before but this year, regular phonics and maths have been the major feature of our mornings. 
Fine tuning: It is easy to feel that no progress is being made but this isn't true. Often little seems to happen for a long time! One of the children has just taken a big leap forward so I am encouraged. However,I've started to use six monthly reading ages and plan to video the children reading at the start of the next academic year so that they can look back and see progress. Maths games have been a tremendous success.

History: Youngest Son has become an active participant this year and has developed his own interests. Pompeii and timelines are the recent area of interest. Pompeii wasn't quite where we were studying but it seems sad not to make the most of an enthusiasm! 
Fine tuning: I'm hoping that the timeline will mean that different historical interests won't get muddled up.

Sticker books: Yes, these are important enough to have their own section! The younger two children love sticker books and these have proved a helpful way to introduce a subject. I would have said that they provide occupation but Younger Daughter can now get through a sticker book rather fast!
Fine tuning: Sticker books are sold at various different prices. It is best to think in advance and not have to pay full price. I know from experience of not thinking ahead!

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  1. 'Maths games have been a tremendous success' - go on, tell me more!

    1. It makes me laugh when the children have been playing maths games and announce that they haven't done any work! Favourites have been Sum Swamp which at one point was played on a several times a day basis, Fizz-Buzz, Polydron which a kind friend loaned to use, shapes for tessallations, Triominoes and Pop to the Shops.

  2. I've not heard of any of these.... Mine like much simpler games, like the shopping list game, the bus stop game (you have to count people on and off the bus), that kind of thing. Any that you would recommend for a five year old?

    1. My five year old loves Sum Swamp. It teaches number bonds to twelve/odd/even/plus/minus. Fizz-Buzz is really simple although might be better in a year or so. It just takes two or more people to play. Multiples of one number are designated as fizz and those of another as buzz. So if two is fizz and three is buzz, counting goes one, fizz, buzz,fizz,five,fizz-buzz, etc. A useful game when sitting on public transport!

  3. Great post Sarah. I do a review and assessment each year and find that there is always some tweaking to be done - even after 8 years of home educating! It's a constant work in progress :o)