I thought I would put out a few thoughts about the upcoming Iowa test. I often hear about test anxiety and nervousness surrounding the tests. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Explain to your kids the purpose of the test. Here's the purpose: This is for you and your children (AND NO ONE ELSE!) to see how you do on a test of certain skills that kids at that age should probably know. It's a guide for you to know what you did well on, and what you may need to work a little more on. That's it. I often compare it to a photograph and a portrait. We all take lots of photographs; some are good and some aren't. We wish we could erase some. We love some and put them on the refrigerator. Others, we delete. It's only a moment in time. A portrait, on the other hand, takes special effort to get ready and is actually more accurate. We take lots of diferent poses. It gives us the chance to show our best. The test is more like a photograph. We could add it to a portfolio or a portrait. But our "portrait" could include a sample of our writing, a math assignment we liked and had fun with, a statement about our character, an art project, or some pictures of you playing your favorite sport. The Iowa test is only part of that.
2. If it's not that big of a deal, why do we do it?
A. It's the law for homeschooled kids in the odd years starting in grade 3.
B. It gives us some really good information. The Iowa gives fantastic information that will help you evaluate your homeschool program. Other state evaluations give feedback like, "Partially Proficient". What does that mean when you are evaluating your math program? Iowa will list a set of skills and specific info on how your child did in those areas. (Anyone want to join me to contact your state representatives about why all of Colorado should switch back to the Iowa test? That's a discussion for another time. :-))
3. Not only do we need to do it, but why do we need to do our best?
A. We should always do our best.
B. Encouraging our kids to do their best will help us get good results to evaluate what we do. I would always tell my kids (my homeschool kids and my classrooms of kids over the years) if we score great, we know we did a good job and don't have to do that again!. If we didn't do so well on a section, that tells us something. Maybe we forgot to cover that. Maybe our book didn't cover that. No big deal-we'll handle that better in the future. The test really is for me, the teacher, to figure out what we need to work on.
4. Moms and Dads: Be REAL. Are you feeling the pressure and passing that along to your kids? Are you afraid you may find out there are some things you didn't do right with your homeschooling this year? Join the club. I have been in education for 32 years. (Yikes, that hard to believe.) The best teachers I know have looked at what they did and said, "Hmm...that didn't go so well. Now what?" and made changes. The worst teachers I have known don't evaluate. Don't change. They move ahead with the same plan with no real thought about how to make it better. That's not us! Remember Growth Mindset? We learn from failures. Mistakes can make us better.
Take the pressure off. Take it off yourself. Take it off your kids. Yes, eat a good breakfast. Get a good night's rest. But, keep that simple and low key as well. You are a homeschooling parent and have taken on the wonderful, pain staking job of homeschooling your children. No one is more fit for that job than you. While we want to grow and do what's best for our kids, don't let anyone dress you in the Emporer's Clothes. Keep your goals in mind, get the info, take it in, evaluate it, and move ahead. All of us at Summit are cheering you on!