Stories from New Homeschoolers: How We Know Our Kids Are Growing

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How We Know Our Kids Are Growing

We asked new 2020 homeschoolers to chime in with their thoughts about measuring progress. We asked:

This school year with Sonlight, your kids have not taken quizzes/tests or received letter grades. So how do you know they are learning? What kind of growth have you observed, academically or otherwise? And are you satisfied with the progress they have made this year at home with you?

These parents blew us away with their confidence. There were no wishy-washy guesses or uncertain answers. They know their kids are growing. Because they've been teaching their children themselves day by day, they have intimate knowledge of exactly what their children have mastered.

And, wow, have they mastered a lot! These families have seen incredible progress in reading skills and math mastery. Plus they have savored in-depth discussions as a family and observed their children recalling material from lessons weeks and months prior. These Sonlight students are learning, and the learning is sticking. Here's what they said:

Their Progress Is Obvious! I'm There to See it Firsthand

"My kids were previously in private school. They did no letter or number grades in elementary, and we only saw their finished work a few times a year. Assessments were subjective and often obviously cut-and-pasted from another child's report! With Sonlight, I hear my kids answer questions, make connections, and ask for more information (and more reading aloud) every day. I can see so much growth in their knowledge and pride in their learning. I think that what I'm teaching is valuable, and they have picked up and internalized that perspective. They're always saying, 'I bet no one at [my old school] has learned about this yet!'" —Emma T. L.

"Both older kids in school will ask questions about their work and apply school to every day things. I see their wheels turning. I see them gaining confidence because of the work and not having to worry about the stress from testing."—Jackie S.

"I see my first grader using math in every day life (adding and dividing). I also knew what level of books he was reading when we left school and where he is now. He’s able to make connections in his science and history reading when we go on field trips, or see something else in a different book, or when a similar topic pops up again. My first grader is using Level B and my 4-year-old just started Science K. The youngest is learning about ants, and my oldest instantly recognized the honey pot ant from his reading 6 months ago. It’s also a lot of fun to look back at the language arts worksheets. To flip back through all of the work from an entire year, you can see how much progress has been made." —Amber L. B.

"I know my daughter is learning and progressing by looking at her work now and her work at the beginning of the year. We can have conversations about topics we have studied and she can discuss the information. We watch films and documentaries to extend the topic, and she understands the material." —Pamela R.

We Have Rich Discussions

"The biggest thing for me was realizing all 3 of my little kids are actually auditory learners. This explained some gaps in their previous traditional school settings. It also meant that all the read-alouds and read togethers have been a perfect fit for them! I am often amazed at what they recall and can discuss intelligently. We struggled a bit with poetry at the beginning, but today at week 27 it was incredible listening to them pick up on different meanings and analogies that they were totally clueless about at week 1! We had such a lovely conversation about them. Today the older two were reminiscing thru their readers and showing each which ones they would just love to read too! One was particularly sad that she finished a book today (she really loved it). The science has them wanting to learn more and more. Some of the things I keep thinking are too difficult, but I am clearly underestimating them as they just want to learn more and more and grasp so much! I will also say, mine all have some learning challenges. Not having stressful tests; tons of worksheets/busywork; being able to fidget, snuggle and flop on the couch instead of holding it together at a desk all day has also been a game changer." —Becky S.

"We are a little more than halfway through our curriculum, and I was scared with the task of teaching my first grade boy how to read. Well, 6 months later and he is reading, confident, and telling his younger brother how excited he is for him to learn how to read next year. As far as what they know or are learning I was touched, and proud when an hour after reading chapter 4 of Abandoned on the Wild Frontier, my son asked me how slaves were treated on a plantation and why couldn't many slaves read or write. We had a half hour conversation about these topics. WOW!!! I love Sonlight for these unique and meaningful conversations that are shaping my kids characters in ways I could not have expected."—Julia R.

"My daughter (15, 10th grade) and I have had some amazing discussions about the books she’s read and some that we are reading together. She also amazes me with the things that she picks up on and remembers from the history spine A History of US. We’ve watched a few movies about specific time periods such as North and South about the Civil War, and she can add in context, extra information, or make educated guesses about what will happen next based on the events and historical figures she’s learned about. ❤️" —Wendy M. G.

My Kids Tell Me They Are Learning

"I think this is one of the many blessings of homeschooling. I don’t have to wait for a quiz or test to see how my daughter is doing; I’m constantly assessing her understanding and making adjustments to best suit her needs. And really that’s all assessments need to be right? A litmus test of what they’re learning and how I’m teaching.
We’re working through the Kindergarten curriculum this year and her growth has been amazing. We’ve kept a journal for the creative expression activities and can see amazing growth there as well. She has gone from dictating a sentence to writing several on her own! We’ve been working through the readers, and just after the new year things really clicked. She picked a children’s Bible she had been gifted and just started reading. She looked up at me, beaming and said, 'Mommy, I can really read!' She can see the growth, which has built confidence and a love for learning. I’m so grateful for all the ways Sonlight has been a blessing to our family.❤️" —Cassie-Ryan R.

"My daughter has told me often that she learns far more at home. Other days she has asked to go back to school because there she can tune a teacher out. She says she can't tune us out! Her father teaches math and science, and I teach everything else. Our discussions are so much richer and our family is stronger because of homeschooling with Sonlight." —Heather F.

My Children Love Learning

"Not having tests, grades, and stress has been like heaven for all of our family. My son learns because it is interesting for him and not because he needs a grade. The result after the tests was that he forgot what he memorized. Now, no pressure at all. I see that he is learning because he can talk to me about all the countries we have learned, give me his opinions about cultures, etc. And also I can see how he is able to read, understand and have his own opinions. Besides, by teaching him, I can see what are his weaknesses and I can help him with them. Another important thing for me is that I can solve his doubts about issues like faith, death, war, suffering, etc. and not letting those to be explained by other people. For my son and for my family, Sonlight is a blessing." —Jenny S.

"Before we started homeschooling, I never realized my kids had test anxiety. We know they are learning and retaining because they are applying their knowledge in everyday life. My child who hated reading now reads for pleasure. Two of my other children have started writing novels. And my oldest daughter is creating a coloring book for her younger siblings. When they were able to release the stress of tests, it allowed them to fall back in love with learning, creating, and exploring." —Ashley D. C.

High Scores, Mastered Skills, and Reaching Goals

"New 2020 homeschool mama here! My son had a hard enough time sitting through 30 minutes of speech therapy in front of the computer, so I knew online learning was not going to work for him. Not only has my son's reading and comprehension improved, he has reached all his goals in his IEP. My daughter was not supposed to start Kindergarten until this fall. She is already reading, has finished her math ahead of schedule, and has started her math for next year. They love having school at home and were so excited to look at the new catalog when it came in the mail! I have been asked if I am sending my kids back to public school in the fall and I tell them no way! My husband and I are totally satisfied and in love with Sonlight! Thank you, Sonlight, for making school fun for my kids and me. " — Dawn C.

"Just had this conversation with relatives, LOL! We know they're learning because they can successfully complete the material. Also their skills have noticeably improved." —Elyse E.

"My daughter has gone from 71% reading accuracy to 97% in the last year. She has met all the 2nd grade standards for the end of the year. (She was about a year behind one year ago.) Thanks, Math U See! 🙂 She now reads grade level material and only really needs to work on fluency. She was probably reading at a mid-K level at the end of first grade. Her reading comprehension is something like 99%. Thank you, read-alouds! 🙂 I can only imagine where her history, science, and literature knowledge stand, being almost done with HBL A. I am super proud of her and myself. I was terrified to not do her justice." —Angela G. S.

My Kids Talk About What They've Learned

"I know my son is learning when he tries to reenact lessons from history or that we read in science when he plays. Sometimes he'll say, 'Hey Mama, remember when...' about something we read months ago just to see if I remember or to compare it to something we currently learning about." —Julie Metott

"My 7-year-old meets my husband at the door daily to tell him all about the things he learned that day. His natural curiosity has flourished, and the all-boy in him is grateful he doesn’t have to sit in a seat all day like he did in school. My 9-year-old is sad we’re almost done with all the books for the year, and she’s scouted out the new curriculum and looking forward to next year. I can’t complain about the desire and love they both have for learning. 😊" —Theresa C.

"Without the grades and tests my kids learned to enjoy learning. One Sunday Shaylin went up to a member of our congregation and told him all about narwhals. Until Shay told him about them, he thought they were a mythological creature. The man she was telling is a teacher. (For the record, he’s not a science teacher, and I’m not making fun of him or thinking he’s uneducated. I found out a lot of people thought they were mythological.) He came up to me, impressed with the amount she knew and applauded that we could allow her to really explore her own education." —Katie J. B.

Most of the parents quoted above did not originally plan to homeschool. But they have been successful at teaching their children thanks to Sonlight curriculum. They know their kids are growing! You really can homeschool, too. And Sonlight can help.

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