Homeschooling as Spiritual Formation

A few weeks ago I *might* have had one of my biggest homeschooling freak outs so far.  In our state kids have to take standardized tests beginning in 3rd grade.  I knew this was coming, but had been putting off dealing with it.  I just might have a little test anxiety myself!  And then when I started researching the tests, I caught a glimpse of exactly how non-standardized our curriculum is.

No matter that our days have been building a nourishing rhythm.  No matter that I can see meaningful progress in academics and our family culture.  No matter that our days are filled to the brim with stories and tea and poems and drawing and Lego and piano and…well, the Wild Kratts game on the Kindle!  These things aren’t measured on the test.

We are still fully in what Susan Wise Bauer calls the Parent at the Elbow stage.  I’ve got to be right there if bookwork is going to happen.  And these children have never taken a test.  Let alone filled in scantron bubbles.  They have no test taking strategies.

After a day or so of feeling overwhelmed and unsuited for this work, I got to work.  First I listed out everything that’s going right–all the ways our days fill us with good things.  Then I could see the pockets of time where we might shift our attention.  A small pivot to help our girl meet this challenge.  Our solution so far–we got a test prep book and she’s doing a page of language and math from it each week.  She’s also going out for a lunch and test prep date with Andy.  It has the feel of celebration even though they work hard together.

But all my angst got me thinking about how I’ve approached our schooling choices generally.  I’ve also been thinking about Lent.  I’ve got a few posts percolating about the way of homeschooling as spiritual formation.  Stay tuned!


  1. So, I am wondering: what if a home schooled child does not do well on a standardized test?

    PS: thank you, my friend for the sweet birthday greeting! It meant a lot to me. ♥

    1. Well, in our state it doesn’t really matter, Sue.

      No one formally asks for or sees the test results except the child’s parent. But the records need to be on hand if the school district ever asked to see them. If the child falls below the 15th percentile, they ask that the child take the test again the next year. No dire consequences.

      It was more me not wanting her to be intimidated or feel overwhelmed. What are the laws like in your state?

  2. In Massachusetts the school district and homeschooling parent must agree on the form of assessment, which then must be *requested* by school administration. If not requested, then parents need not submit anything ( in all the years I’ve homeschooled my children here, I’ve not been asked for assessment). Typically parents add a line to their ed plan at the beginning of the school year: “An annual progress report/dated work sample/standardized test results (parents pick one) will be submitted upon request”.

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