The Homeschool Alliance May 2017: Year-End Assessment

May in The Homeschool Alliance: Year-End Assessment

Ack! It’s the end of the homeschool year and you want to know: Did I get it right? Have my children made the right kind of progress? How do I know I’m on track?

You’re not alone. May is when I did my “panic-purchases”—the temptation to load up on other, newer, better-er stuff for fall since I somehow botched science (again).

I learned over the years to change how I assessed my kids and my own work as a home educator. We’re going to explore some of those methods in May in The Homeschool Alliance, my online homeschool coaching community.

What I came to see is that the long, slow work of home education can be detected, validated, and valued. I also discovered how to think differently about the subjects where I had not made the kind of progress I had hoped. I also got over my need to “binge-spend” as a way to assuage my, ahem, guilt.

Key questions we’ll answer:

  • How do I know my child is at grade level?
  • What about state requirements?
  • How can I prepare for year-end testing or narratives?
  • What are healthy ways to give children a sense of their own progress and growth?
  • What about grades? Do we need them? How do I give them?

I’ll help you learn how to

  • think about assessment through the lens of learning, rather than achievement
  • prepare a portfolio that showcases your child’s accomplishments
  • create a “show-and-tell” night that celebrates your children’s year
  • share the sense of accomplishment with your kids
  • give tokens of celebration to each child

It’s going to be a wonderful month of celebration rather than end-of-the-year handwringing. We’ll have our usual monthly live webinar too, so you can ask me your questions and listen to conversation about this past year. Can’t wait to hear about all you’ve done and to tell you how awesome you are!

Each month in the Alliance we deep dive into a topic to empower your homeschool. You can join any time and leave any time. We hold monthly web chats with me and Stephanie Elms, our other coach, where we hash out stuff about parenting, credits, teaching, and more.

Check out for details and give us a try this month!

Join The Homeschool Alliance

The Peril of Trusting Your Child

The Peril of Trusting Your Child

I get email every day from parents who love their kids, who think they’ve got the most creative, smart, surprising little people living under their roofs. They share stories, their children’s writing, photos, and detailed accounts of what their kids are doing. These parents are wowed, amazed. And they should be! Their children ARE amazing. So are yours.

Yet often, even in the same email, a paragraph of worry inevitably follows.

  • What if this brilliant child isn’t on course to graduate at 18?
  • What if this parent isn’t pushing hard enough to fit in lab sciences or essays?
  • What if the child next door who goes to school is completing more “official” work?
  • What if trusting your child’s natural learning process is a mistake?
  • How can a parent know if he or she is traveling down the wrong road before it’s too late?

It’s like two people live inside our minds: the one that knows our children and the one that doubts we know our children.

To trust means to let go of worry. Yet worry defines us! It’s what allows us to feel important, involved, and prepared. Worry proves we care. Worry shows that we are invested. Worry requires maintenance which involves google searches, online discussions, seeking counsel and advice, and the endless work of revising the plan. Worry feels like we’re doing what we should be. Worry leads to action—busy-ness, activity, lectures, and important new strategies to repair whatever it is we imagine is broken.

To trust means—well, what does it mean?

It looks like letting go—literally dropping the careworn hand-wringing, falling backwards without knowing if you’ll be caught. Trust is relying on today to be enough, not wondering about tomorrow, not forecasting doom for the future.

Trust is a big exhale—believing what you see with your own eyes and imagination. It means discounting the input that contradicts what you know inside.

Trust means you know inside.

Trust takes patience, the long view, time.

Trust feels irresponsible and naive.

Trust may be mistaken for denial.

Trust leads to missed opportunities, to overlooking a problem before it’s too late, to putting a child’s well-being ahead of your need to fix him or her.

You will miss some opportunities if you trust—if you put your child’s peacefulness ahead of your agenda to get it right. Trust means not hurrying to fill, fix, and finagle.

What we don’t always appreciate is that worry also makes us miss opportunities. We fill the time with activity and angst—robbing the present moment of joy or space to create or a chance to mature and develop. We hurry to the “next thing” rather than allowing some fallow time for reflection or puttering or simply enjoying a skill mastered.

Trust says: “I see my child and I am noticing all the ways that child is developing right before my eyes, like a Polaroid picture.”

Worry says: “I see what my child should be and isn’t.”

Because parenting is always new (every day, every year), it’s difficult to let trust take the reins. I know I couldn’t trust all day every day come what may. What I learned to do (and am still learning literally today!) is to see my worry and breathe it away.

I pause to consider: what can I trust now? In the middle of the muddle of worry, I can trust that:

  • The lessons my child needs are happening, even if invisible to me.
  • New ideas come to me more easily when I let go of the vice-grip of control.
  • There are people who’ve faced these same issues and have come to fresh conclusions that can help me.
  • My child has the power to learn and is learning already.
  • I homeschooled for a reason—to get off the treadmill of pressure.
  • There is no law saying ALL learning must be completed by 18.
  • Joy is the best teacher, patience is a close second.
  • Creativity solves problems better than coercion.
  • I am a kinder mother when I trust than when I worry.
  • Pressure may motivate, but it also crushes and reverberates to pain and anxiety.
  • Being alert is not the same as being worried.
  • Life is full of inconveniences, mistakes, wrong paths taken, oversights, missed opportunities, misplaced priorities, and short-sightedness—I cannot stop the flow of painful experiences.
  • My child gets to have a unique life that doesn’t match my vision because my child is not me.
  • Any choice my child makes is my child’s choice, not mine.
  • I have all that I need to be a good parent right now, today.
  • My child has all that s/he needs to learn today.

You can add to that list.

Fundamentally, trust is about your child—trusting that the person you love and live with will become an adult who may not match your ideal vision, but who will nonetheless be the person you will continue to love and know and admire and care for, for the rest of your life.

Your responsibility to the child is to continue to lay a feast of ideas and offer educational opportunities, all while providing love and companionship on the journey. When a problem surfaces, trust handles it better than worry.

Trust says, “I know my child. I will find resources that suit and support my child. We’ll make progress together.”

Worry says, “My child is behind. I feel terrible about it. I better switch what we’re doing ASAP and get him or her caught up.”

Trust allows you to pace yourself—to stay in relationship, to keep the lines of communication open, to avail yourself to being that support when your child needs you.

The peril of trusting your child is this: you have to give up your right to worry as an excuse to coerce your child into actions that make you feel better.

The Homeschool Alliance

Happy Birthday, Charlotte Brontë!

Jane Eyre Boomerang Sale

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

In celebration of Charlotte Brontë’s birthday (born April 21, 1816), we’re making a special offer! The Boomerang for her novel, Jane Eyre, is:

HALF PRICE until Saturday at midnight EST! ($5.95)

Charlotte Brontë was born on April 21, 1816 in Yorkshire, England and was the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived childhood. All three sisters were authors and had their works published under masculine pseudonyms to conceal the fact that they were women in order to maintain some anonymity and to escape the prejudices against female authors.

Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, more commonly known today as simply Jane Eyre, was first published in 1847 under Charlotte’s pseudonym of Currer Bell and is considered a Gothic romance. The novel follows its titular protagonist, Jane, as she grows from abused orphan to a governess in the household of Mr. Rochester, with whom she falls in love. But all is not as it seems at Thornfield Hall; mysteries lurk within its walls with the power to tear the two apart.

Filled with yearning and palpable emotion, Jane Eyre is considered a literary classic.

So, celebrate Charlotte Brontë’s birthday and take advantage of this special offer!

If you’d like to buy a copy of the novel, it’s available through Amazon: Jane Eyre.

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 7th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Friday Freewrite: Center of Attention

Friday Freewrite: Draw Attention

Do you enjoy doing things that draw attention to yourself? Why or why not.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

It Starts with Us

It Starts with Us

We say we want a more tolerant world—or at least, we want more people to tolerate us. We want to be heard, known, respected, and understood. We want space to have our ideas regarded as logical, important, and relevant to the conversation.

When I say I’m a home educator while I’m spitting sunflower seed shells onto the turf as I watch my 10 year old up to bat, I hope that the public school mom sitting next to me will say, “Oh, tell me about that! I’ve heard of homeschooling but I don’t really know what it’s like. Do you enjoy it?” (Wouldn’t that be awesome?)

I don’t want her to say, “Oh my! You’re amazing. I could NEVER be with my kids 24/7. How do you do it?”

I also don’t want her to say, “Homeschool. That seems really risky. How do your kids ever make friends? Aren’t you worried they won’t be ready for college?”

Worse, I never want to hear: “I oppose homeschool. You are ruining public education and your children. I’ve been told homeschooled kids are not prepared when they finally attend school. All the homeschooled kids I know are weird.” Ouch.

And yet.

I’ve heard all of those, including the cheery first one of genuine warmth and curiosity!

Because you and I are ambassadors for an unconventional educational choice, we’re defensive. I think I can admit that on behalf of the movement. 😀 I feel like I’m supposed to represent homeschooling well. I’m required to defend its importance and success and how it doesn’t harm anyone else’s right to educate how they wish. I defend my kids as ordinary garden-variety human beings who can make friends and are able to learn information.

That defensiveness, however, twists my sensitive soul into a little prune-ish pretzel, shriveled and tight. When I’m safely ensconced within the walls of my homeschool enclave, I’ve attacked public education with snark and flippant language. Behind the backs of my parent-friends who choose traditional school, I’ve made not-tolerant comments—you know, the kind that assign a child’s struggle (whatever it may be) to a “poor” school choice rather than showing empathy for the struggle no matter the origin.

I do this all while I hope that my public school friends will tolerate and respect my choices!

It’s maddening to defend home education. But maybe it’s also maddening to be the person who went along with the usual way of things (school) and suddenly is confronted with all this intentional choice that is about “not-school.” Imagine how that might feel—your own go-along to get-along way of life is being rejected by someone who seems sane and interesting. This poor “school parent” is now also defensive and never expected to have to be!

What could we do in that situation?

Maybe we could try this…

“Oh, tell me about public school for your kids! I don’t really know what it’s like since my kids don’t go. Do your kids enjoy it? What are some of the fun things they get to do?”

If we could drop the feeling of being threatened by school and simply enter into the experience on all sides: home, private, public, religious, boarding…whatever version you are encountering—what would we learn?

Education takes lots of forms. To create space for all of them, it helps to remember we are on the same team—rooting for everyone’s children to become good citizens, kind people, and well educated adults.

Maybe it starts with us.

The Homeschool Alliance