Sunday, August 28, 2011

Homeschool Evaluations

It's that time of year again, for those of us who are required to do so,  to provide "proof" that we are raising living, learning beings.  We have chosen - for three years now - to meet this requirement through evaluation with a certified teacher, rather than by submitting standardized test scores.  Even though this is by far the less-stressful option, there was a current of apprehension in the house yesterday as we waited for Sherri to arrive.  Eliza and I had sat and looked through the portfolio I'd put together over the last month - samples of things we've done, some of them from last fall, by now a distant memory, brochures from museums, playbills from the theater, notes from Farm School, drawings, notes...I had also used, for the first time, a system of keeping notes that I got from Renee at FIMBY.  I tape a paper labelled "Family Learning Notes" to the inside of my kitchen cabinet, and every time we read something, watch something, play something, make something, go somewhere or talk about something that makes our wheels turn, I try to remember to write it down on the paper.  I've created headings that loosely describe some "study" areas - reading, math, science, world study, art/music, community/other - but I regularly get confused about where to put things, because isn't it all connected? 
 A new paper goes up for every season, and it was great to look back on these notes and remember and acknowledge all that we had done over the past year, and for that reason alone I'm glad to have kept them.  What I really wanted her to do, though, was to read this blog. The good bits and the boring bits and the hard bits. It takes a lot of time to do that though, so I tried to pare it down for her by tagging some posts "portfolio" and sending her that link. I had to go and see what that shift of the kaleidoscope might show someone, and you know what? Life looks pretty awesome.  Try it - click on "portfolio" in the side-bar to the right (under "what we're writing about") and have a look, if you'd like to know, in a glance (ok, it does take some minutes to pour through them), what we've been up to this year...I also, as an extra bonus (grin) sent the link to my "Good Earth" posts about farm school, as we spent so much of our time there this year. Again - pretty darn awesome.

*edited to add: Dan had a look at this post and the portfolio link and thought it really misrepresented "what we do" because it didn't show EVERYTHING! "We're learning all the time!" he argued, which is totally true, but in lieu of asking an evaluator to catch up on a year's worth of blog posts - some 200 posts - I chose to tag a few (more like 30 from the past year) to try to give an idea of what the rest of the year is like.  I did add a few more posts to "portfolio" after our conversation, posts I had intended to add earlier but hadn't remembered to tag, so if you're looking at this a second time (!!), you could have another look!
Wednesday, the day before our evaluation, Eliza woke up bouncing and ready for "School!!!" Out came some new supplies - a binder, some cool folders, a new lined notebook, a clicky pen - all the things I really loved about school!! - and we sat at the kitchen table for a while, working through a book of mysteries that you help solve.  At some point, when she'd done a few of the mysteries, she looked up - "Math?" Um...yeah, we'll get to that too! I know the schooly mode won't last for long, but after a summer of sun and wind and water, we're craving a little inside and structure, so we're going with that for now.
 While waiting for Sherri to come, Eliza looked at me with some anxiety, and asked, "If she doesn't think I'm learning, will she send me to school?" Oh dear girl. Your life is so full, you are so smart, creativity courses through your blood, and your eyes? They sparkle with curiosity and wonder. You are learning. Sherri thought so too.

1 comment:

alissa said...

I'm so glad that you get that validation. it's silly, but it feels good, right?