Although you’re not completely convinced yet that you can “teach” your kids, you are pretty sure you can figure out your children’s learning styles, and thus, be able to provide an environment at home that is conducive to their learning. Or, maybe you don’t have a clue how he/she/they learn(s) best, but you’re pretty sure you can figure it out.
You also have a good idea of what is required in your state, so you’re starting to get more comfortable (aka “not totally freaked out”) with looking at and exploring your options. You’re working on finding support- after all, if you decide to take the plunge, you know you are going to need it.
One of my biggest worries was would they be able to keep up with their classmates? After all, we were only going to do this for a year or two, before, you know, we realized it was too hard and should be left to the professionals. If the time came and we put them back in school, where would they land? Would they be on track with the rest of the kids in their grades?
While I don’t live in a state where there is mandatory testing, you may find yourself in that situation. Truly, there are all kinds of places and resources for standardized testing preparation. Fortunately, this was also covered by Clonlara.
In my Why Homeschool? post, I shared my observations in regard to testing. This article summarizes pretty well how I view testing in (public) schools. It also has links to sites that will help you with the testing. This article, Standardized Testing and Its Victims, while older, goes into detail about how I feel about standardized testing.
There are lots of homeschooling parents that feel standardized testing is a “must,” and is one of the best ways to gauge their child’s learning. Because you know that we primarily unschool, you’ve probably guessed that our thinking is a little bit different in this regard. While test-taking is a skill that should be addressed at some point, especially if your child is interested in college, for example, let’s just say I’m not a fan.
Here’s a list of state achievement tests. Another list can be found here. If you need to know what your state requires for testing, your best bet is to find that information on the Department of Education website for your state. Chances are good that you already know where to find it, because you’ve been gathering information on your state’s laws on homeschooling. Many states accept the CAT (California Achievement Test) or TerraNova Test, and you can do a web search using those terms and find a lot of resources for that testing.
I won’t give a ton of links because states each have their own requirements; here are more resources for standardized testing:
If you live in a state where standardized testing is mandatory, you may think about using a cover or umbrella school. A cover or umbrella school is a “school” that oversees your child’s home education to help you meet your state’s education requirements. If you live in Alabama, for example, the only way you can homeschool is via using a church-based cover/umbrella school unless you have a teaching certificate.
This site has several resource links (*I have not checked them all to see if they are current*). Here’s a state-by-state guide to umbrella/cover schools. The perk to using a cover or umbrella school is that many offer ala carte services, including (but not limited to) transcripts, portfolio help, testing, report cards, attendance records, field trips, and standardized testing. Some are inclusive only, and doing your research and asking questions will help you find a good fit for your needs.
Back to the issue- How will my homeschooled kids compare to traditionally schooled kids? Will they be able to keep up?
The short answer is yes, they will be able to keep up, and in fact, studies show that homeschooled kids actually excelled academically (but we all knew that already, right? ) compared to their traditionally schooled counterparts. Homeschooled Students Excel in College and Can Homeschoolers Do Well in College? have statistics worth checking out. I take issue with a statement in the second article, but the comments are worth the read. Even if your child is not college-bound, he/she still has the opportunity to excel in whatever learning opportunities are pursued.
How will they compare to their traditionally schooled counterparts? That will depend entirely on what you are comparing. I think comparison, by-in-large, doesn’t do anyone- particulary your child- any favors. Each child has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. Homeschooling affords you, the parent, the ability to hone those strengths and address any weaknesses in a manner that is best for your child; based on the child.
Bottom line: homeschooling allows your child to live up to his/her maximum potential, without the confines or constraints of “the system.” My kids are excelling, not only academically, but socially, too, BECAUSE we homeschool.
There really is no comparison!