25 January 2013

The One With All the Doubts

Sharing this one as part of the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

This week someone on a homeschooling page I follow asked about assessments. Several folks offered information about free, online assessments for elementary-age students. I took the bait, and signed up, and had Agent E take one. 

Then the "whys" came. 

Why did she only score one grade level above on math and reading? Why did she not know how to complete xyz? Why didn't I teach her more about [fill in the blank with random knowledge other first graders apparently know].

The "whys" were followed by the doubts.

I'm doing it wrong. This child-led unschooly c-r-a-p is for the birds. I need a curriculum. I need a plan. I should have taught her more about . . . um, everything? My child is only six and I already suck at homeschooling.

Whew. Deep breath, Momma.

I'm embarrassed to say it took me a few days to realize that a 30-minute evaluation, a completely arbitrary hodgepodge of whatever skills this one particular guide deemed important, is not an indication of my daughter's intelligence or my teaching ability.

Then I started thinking: Had she scored way above grade level, or done awesome on every single section, would I have thought this assessment was great? 

Um, probably.
My favorite first grader

Sooooo . . . . what have we learned today, folks?

1. There is no way I will ever ever ever be able to teach my children everything. 

2. Even if they attended school, or even if we followed a strict curriculum, this would still be true.

3. My children are smart, capable, and learning new, wonderful things every day.

4. I should probably write out #1-3 on a post-it and plaster it to my head.

Have you struggled with doubts in your homeschool this week? How did you get past them?


  1. Great post, thanks for sharing. This is something we will all need to read and re-read in the coming months. :-)

    1. Thank you, and thanks for stopping by. Love the name.

  2. Hey, be kinder to yourself! And yes, take a step back.

    Now take another step back and see if you can find out anything useful from what you did. Is there a grain of positive direction you can take out of this? Reflective practice is the most important part of beng a good teacher, and that means not being ruled by knee-jerk reactions (of any kind) to criticism (even if that's criticism of yourself). Maybe it was a bad test, but maybe there's a signpost there as well.

    Deep breath! Less emotion! More analysis! And just look at how your kids love learning- you are doing GREAT.

    1. The crazy thing is, she actually scored *above* average on most of it, but my initial reaction was to zoom in on the few things we never covered. Ack! (Breathing, breathing . . .)

  3. Yes! You would think after 9 years of homeschooling I wouldn't have doubts, but not so! With 2 kids struggling for different reasons (and all for things that I can't change) and one planning to embark on a new direction outside the home for learning my confidence has taken a hit. But that's where friends help out - they get you back on the right track! I'm feeling better about things! Hang in there!

    1. Hope everything works out for you and your students. Thanks for visiting.

  4. You bring up some very accurate points about testing. The longer I have home schooled the more I am convinced that testing really doesn't help me or my child much. Almost without fail they reveal the kids' weak points and strengths, both of which I already knew. Please consider adding this to my end of the week link up, Its a Wrap. Savannah www.hammocktracks.com

    1. It was more of a curiosity for me, and I think it did exactly what you said. I will check out the link up. Thanks for stopping by.