It’s a question I consider all the time.
It’s a question I am asked all the time, especially from moms just getting started homeschooling.
It’s a question that can be easy to answer, but just as likely to prompt a super complicated response.
How will I know if my child is really learning what he needs to learn?
We are accustomed to standards of measurement as a fundamental part of education (at least those of us that grew up in public schools). Weekly quizzes, grading on a curve, standardized tests in May, pre-tests, spelling tests… measurement is constant in a typical school environment.
So it makes sense that in the absence of such a heavy focus, we homeschoolers can feel a bit worried.
I first asked the question seven years ago, of a more experienced homeschool mom. “How do I know if he is really learning if I am not giving him tests or evaluating him against other children?” She smiled and me and said, “Trust me. You’ll know.”
The truth is, she was right.
Even without formal testing…
Even with my boys’ learning differences…
Even without ever really looking at a grade level standards…
It’s abundantly clear to me that my boys are, in fact, learning.
Is My Child Really Learning?
The best way to measure my boys’ progress in whatever it is that we are studying is simple – I ask them to teach it back.
I ask them to teach it to me, explain it to each other, and even to teach the dog sometimes (my youngest son prefers Sammy to me anyway so it works!).
Please know, although I was compensated for my time in writing this post, I only share resources that really work for my family. It is my hope they may also work for yours!
It’s simple, and it is incredibly helpful and effective.
By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn. – Latin Proverb
As my boys have gotten older, I have tried to find ways that help them teach what they know in ways that are fun and interesting. My new favorite resource for this is mysimpleshow.
mysimpleshow is a DIY video maker that my sons use to explain and teach me what they know about a subject. They plug-in the script and select different illustrations to produce an audio-visual presentation.
The program walks them through every single step. It helps them format their thoughts and even gives examples of talking points along the way.
I think he best way for me for me to explain how the value of mysimpleshow is to show you. This presentation was created by my eleven year old son. I asked him to “journal” about his experience in getting his service dog Sammy. This is what he came up with, unedited by me.
Seriously, how cool is this? The learner selects a story line, writes (or copies in) a script, and mysimpleshow creates a video with visuals and voice over in just a few minutes. Moreover, for children with learning differences, this innovative approach helps accommodate different learning styles and needs.
Just a few of the specific benefits for my two boys include:
Executive Function Support (the outline and steps are already in place)
Reading and Writing Support (my son can voice to text the entire script, or practice writing on his own and then hear the text out loud)
Visual and Audio Learning Styles Inherently Part Of Program
mysimpleshow has been a great way to encourage my sons to teach back what they’ve learned in an innovative way. Plus, it works very well with their unique learning styles.
Although I think I will always worry a bit about the progress my children are making, I can tell you that asking them to teach back what they know has certainly helped me feel more confident.
The truth is, these boys surprise me everyday with their creativity, their intellect, how passionate they are about the world, and with how much they’re learning.