Books #2: No Tests

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Sonlight doesn't test.

In a classroom setting, it makes sense that teachers offer progress tests. How else would they be able to evaluate how each individual student is doing, what each student is retaining?

Homeschooling parents, though, have ample opportunity to figure out how much their children are learning. Read a book and then ask your children some questions. The Sonlight Instructor's Guides include specific questions, but, more generically, you might ask: What scene stands out to you? What character did you like the most? What character did you like the least? When does this story take place?

If your children can answer, they were listening and learning. And if they can't answer, try a simple multiple choice question, made up on the spot, like: "Did Cinderella have slippers made of wood, metal, or glass?"

Usually children can answer a multiple choice question like that.

And if your children cannot, then figure out ways to help your children listen better.

  • Do they need something to do with their hands, like play with silly putty?
  • Or do they need to sit still and not do something with their hands?
  • Do you need to take the time to explain things more clearly
  • Or do they need to answer questions every few paragraphs as you read, to ensure that they are staying engaged?

One of my sons has a terrible time with names. When we read Detectives in Togas (which is fantastic!), I got out a Little People figure for each character, and would point to the character whenever the action or speech required. I've read this book at least a half dozen times over the years, and this was the first time I really noticed how timid one character was, how imaginative (and over-the-top) another character was, how the son of a judge sounded like a lawyer, and the leader of the group of boys had his work cut out for him. So it was a win for me, too.

This is what teachers do: figure out how to help their students learn.

But let's assume that your children are getting some big picture things, that they can answer some questions, and that, over time, they refer back to what they learned about weeks or months before.

That's wonderful! That's enough!

Any first exposure to a subject is just that--a first exposure. They will go over the material again.

So much of early elementary school is intended to learn how to learn, and to learn that learning is fun.

You have constant feedback on how much your children are understanding. And for subjects like math and spelling, where the later years build on the skills learned in younger years, if your children struggle, you have the time to work with them to figure it out, so they gain mastery.

Ready to start the adventure? Visit start today.


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Amy's pic

Amy Lykosh
John and Sarita's oldest daughter
Second-generation Sonlighter
Homeschooling mom to five

Sonlight Curriculum

P.S. In The Shallows, a fascinating book about how the Internet affects our brain, author Nicholas Carr talked about how memory works in the brain. How does a fleeting moment become a long-term memory? Without getting into all the science of neurons and synapses, basically the science shows that even if a person's memory fades, the brain doesn't go back to its initial state, but keeps some connections. This is why it's easier to learn something a second time. (Curious to know more? This discussion is on pp. 182-187.)

Which is all to say: even if your children have very little memory of what they learn at age 5, their brains have made some permanent connections. And they will be able to relearn that much faster the next time.

P.P.S. Some states legally require standardized testing. That's another topic, for another day.

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  1. Pingback: Books #1: A Sonlight Education Looks Different | Sonlight Homeschooling Blog