Homeschooling assessment day

Kaylen just had her homeschooling assessment for 2007. It is the big final year-end grade given to us by Taipei county.  A panel of three representatives from the committee which manages the homeschoolers in Taipei county met with four homeschooling families in our area.

We brought piles of stuff to show them what we have been doing – workbooks, posters we have made, scrapbooks, artwork, drawings, knitting, crochet project, embroidery, dried flower and leaf collection album, stamp album, etc. Kaylen gave a slide show presentation. The other 4 kids did slide show presentations or reports from a scrap book.

 Posters

The panel did not comment specifically on anything we showed them. It felt kind of anti-climactic.  All that work preparing for a ten-minute review by the panel. I guess we should be happy that they were not critical of what we were doing, and seemed to think everything was going fine and there was not much to comment on.

 The three panel members took turns giving general comments to the group. Here are some of the things they said:

1) Parents should figure out their child’s strengths and then nurture them and work in that direction.

2) The best part of homeschooling is being able to design your own program; don’t feel you need to follow the school formula.

3) Use resources well – make use of resources in the community like the library and museums, and even the school’s resources (hmm, not sure what those would be in our case).

4) We like to see lots of variety, that you are exposing your kid to lots of different things; we’d like to see you doing it even better so that we can be more confident about what you are doing. (A bit patronizing but the guy who said was trying to be really supportive throughout the meeting and I think meant well.)

5) The child needs to interact with other people.

6) The parent should get the child’s input and thoughts on what to learn; set up the curriculum together.

7) Sometimes life is the curriculum.

 8) One Christian homeschooling mom on the panel made these comments: Our children are not our possessions, it is not for us to decide what to do with them. God will lead them in what they need. Parents need to take care of their own relationship and work on communicating with each other. A happy mom makes the whole household happy.

Two years ago I attended the homeschooling assessment of a friend of ours in Taipei. She (first grader) did a nice presentation in Chinese and had lots of materials to show the panel. All the kids seem to do a good job that day, however, then panel still had negative things to say. My thought then was that, no matter how well you perform that day, they will still have to have something negative to say because they fundamentally do not llike homeschooling, or feel it is their job to raise criticisms. One woman’s comments really stuck with me: 1) homeschooling students better not fall behind with learning Chinese characters because they are just going to keep piling up and the student may fall behind and what are you going to do then? 2) It is really nice that you are coddling and protecting your child now, but eventually your child will have to go out into the world, you cannot protect them forever, eventually they will have to go out and meet someone to marry. 3) You kids are so lucky that your parents are coddling and protecting you so much! How nice for you! (very sarcastically and ironically, meaning those kids are not lucky at all!)

 The comments and reactions of the Taipei County panel did not lead me to think they were looking for us to be doing everything according to the school schedule, or that we were doing something bad that was going to hurt our child for life, or that they were hostile to homeschooling in general. They didn’t even ride us about ‘socialization’, the usual favorite thing to flog homeschoolers with. One panel member asked if we felt good about our current social activity situation, we said we did, and he said, “Great. Perfect. Just wondering if we could be of help but if you are ok then that’s fine”.

So, all is well. We now start to get ready for next year.

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