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Evaluating Where to Start

When you don’t know where to start, you give your kids a test, right?

As a mom of five, I began giving my kids achievement tests at an early age. After teaching them how to fill in the small circles and sharpen their number 2 pencils, the kids would walk into classrooms, doors would close, and testing would begin. Six weeks later, I would receive test reports which gave vague indications of how each child was doing compared to children across the nation. The broad descriptions of achievement in specific areas provided very little useful information to help me know how to strengthen my kids in the coming year.

Whether you are just starting with your early learner, choosing to switch from traditional schooling to homeschooling, changing curriculum mid-stream, or just concerned about your child’s learning, you probably desire the same information I sought. If achievement tests aren’t the answer, how can you know where to start – or go next – with your child?

Points to Ponder

Here are a few things to consider as you explore how to best meet your child’s educational needs.

Together

True assessment is actually less about right and wrong answers and more about watching how our children progress through their work.  Sometimes parents can tell more about how well their children “got” a concept by having them teach it back or by working out a problem together. Togetherness reveals things a right or wrong answer never could.

Extra Help

If children were actually put in their grade level on each subject, you might find your child in 6th grade math and 3rd grade language arts, all in the same year! Children learn and develop at their own rate, so grade level is often much more of an average than a distinct placement. Real assessment often reveals that, rather than being “ahead” or “behind,” a child may instead just be in need of more help in one subject while being completely independent in another.

Not Just Academic

Achievement tests score one thing: a child’s ability to get right answers on questions within a certain span of time. But, emotional, social, and mental factors are as strong of a consideration as academics when evaluating where to place your child. Is she able to process emotionally well enough to know how to communicate a lack of understanding? Does her ability to reason match the processing required for that particular science topic? So many factors come together to determine how a child learns, and all of them are important as you consider where to start with a new academic journey.

A Few More Thoughts

I never found an assessment that helped me truly evaluate what my kids needed each year. I eventually learned to process through it for myself, but I always wished I had been able to find help. In order to keep other parents from struggling as I did, I began working with Well Planned Gal curriculum developer to develop the assessment I always wished I’d had. Well Planned Start is the result of our efforts!

Based on the principles of working together, determining when your child just needs an extra help, and exploring all milestones of development, Well Planned Start helps you know where and how to place your child, whether you are just getting starting on this educational journey or want to know how to make a shift to better meet the needs of your child.

With five kids in their teen and early adult years, Rebecca shares the many ups and downs of parenting, homeschooling, and keeping it all together. As the Well Planned Gal she mentors women towards the goal of discovering the uniqueness Christ has created in them and their family and how to best organize and plan for the journey they will travel.

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