For several years now, I’ve worked with a local homeschool group to facilitate the Iowa Basic Skills Test, and it’s that time of year again. So, for the past week, I’ve been seeing bubbles (as in penciled circles denoting right answers). Though we don’t test as a normal part of school, our kids take this test every other year. Personally, I don’t want a PSAT or SAT exam to be the first time that the kids sit down to a standardized test, and I use the tests for my own sake rather than using them to draw conclusions about the kids. I can remember a couple of years ago when I realized, after viewing their test results, that our particular math curriculum didn’t stress measuring, and so we had a good time in the summer with the Keys book on measuring. (I never realized that stop signs were so tall!)
My conclusion, based upon the parents I encounter each year, is that these tests become the parents’ tests, perhaps to a larger extent than the children’s. At least that’s the attitude I pick up through smiles and pleasantries mixed in with fear and uncertainty. These were my thoughts as I prayed, and my co-facilitator, obviously on the same page, uncharacteristically began to minister to the moms before we began testing. With tears in her eyes, she spoke of how the most important thing was that our children love the Lord and allow Christ to shine through them. My words before that—and it had never clicked in my mind this way before—were that tests, curriculum, and other items are tools to help us equip our kids for God’s kingdom. Later, the co-facilitator fretted about crying in front of the kids, which, in her mind, only made them more nervous and scared. I assured her that her words were very much in season and that what the children saw was her heart for them. I think this is a word for all of us as we enter next year, and especially for those who might be getting started for the first time this year. I’ll continue to reflect on this as a test for what to buy, if anything—is it helping me minister Jesus?
Monday and today were the only days of “real” school that we had, given the testing schedule. As I realized that next Friday would have theoretically been our last day, I’m trying to figure out where 2-3 weeks went(?!?) We will cease several subjects, and we’ve always continued math and reading through the summer, but history? Science? We’ll have to carry over a bit past where I wanted in order to be at a comfortable place for me. We have a “normal” week next week, and following that is a holiday week, compounded with all the activities associated with the annual dance recital. Following that, we’ll start our summer, which is increasingly looking like a lighter version of spring. I think at this point I probably need to be on the listening end of some of those time management sermons I preach to my daughter.