Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kindergarten Assessments

Raccoon and I have 46 school days left to complete our first 180 days of homeschool. Since January we have been doing more relaxed schooling, and it is working well for us, except that now I'm staring the end of the school year in the face and I feel like we haven't done enough. So I hopped online to find a K assessment to see how he measures up.

Things I discovered:

1) Most K evaluations only care about reading and math. I only found one lonely assessment for social studies.

2) Georgia has a 179 page kindergarten assessment in 7 subject areas.

3) California's transitional kindergarten assessment is all touchy-feely, and even includes subjects like cooking.

4) Finally, a K eval that is only 1 page long. Now that's what I'm talking about!

Now that we have a working printer - hooray! - I am going to print out my favorite assessments and use them as activity guides for our last 11 weeks of school (one more 5 day week, then 10 weeks of just 4 days. Ah, the benefit of starting school in July, we're done at the end of May).

The reason that I'm thinking about this question - did Raccoon "pass" kindergarten? - is because I may be heading Stateside this summer and looking for next year's curriculum. Do I call it K again, based on his slightly behind reading skills, or do I just jump into 1st grade and work with him to catch up? A lot depends on how things progress these next few months.

We're using Abeka's reading program, which I just discovered that I have, and he seems to be getting it. But I think I do need to make reading practice a daily item instead of just once a week. I backed off because he was starting to hate it, so I thought focusing more on what he likes (science, social studies) would help restore some balance. And it has, but now I feel like we're behind. I think next year I won't worry so much about getting in our number of school days, but instead focus more on the content he needs to master.

The other question lingering in the back of my head is... should I ask the K teacher at the school I hope to put him in (around 3rd grade), for her evaluation? Because really, that's the one place that matters, I think. Although based on age they might put him a grade behind anyway. He would be in their pre-K program this year, which would be a good match in reading, but too easy for other things, I think. I'm hoping that by the time I want to put him there, he will be placed based on his skill level and not just their age cutoff, which is September 1 (he's an October birthday). I don't mind if he's a leader among his peers, being one of the oldest in his class, but I desperately don't want him to be as bored in school as I was. My mom would tell me right about now, "Stop worrying about the future! Focus on this year."

All in all, I'm pleased with our first year of homeschooling. We've figured out a lot of what works and doesn't work for us. Evening school was a surprising success the other day. I think he's a night owl like me. Even Kitty wanted to "do words" like her big brother. My gut is that once reading clicks, he's going to jump ahead, so I shouldn't worry. But I always do, with all his skills, until the leap happens.

Thoughts for next year:

1) More organized activities for Kitty. Balancing her and Raccoon this year has been challenging at times, and he is going to need to do more sit-down school next year, I think.

2) More intentional curriculum. This year we just floated around doing whatever interested us. I enjoy picking out curriculum, but an A Beka 1st grade kit is looking tempting too.

3) Lots of science! I'd like to continue doing kits with him since he loves these. And working on setting up our own science laboratory with real equipment. I'd love to have a science shack out back, like a clubhouse.

4) More field trips!

5) More planning time to pull everything together.

6) A schedule, routine, rhythm, or something we can stick to that balances his social needs and learning time.

7) Find a homeschool group to join.