Mom-to-Mom Support/Have you ever tested your children, given standardized tests, that is?

Have you ever tested your children, given standardized tests, that is?

Mom giving high-five to daughter at homeschool


I have a 3rd grader and would like to know how we are doing academically. We really enjoy homeschooling, and it is definitely achieving the purpose of uniting our family in Christ and integrating our faith into every aspect of our lives. Have you ever tested your children, given standardized tests, that is? Do you think it is important? There isn’t necessarily a direct concern here other than I want to make sure we’re on track academically.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for such an uplifting letter. It is a powerful witness to the body of parents who are striving to do the Lord’s will through homeschooling to read your positive and upbeat description of the process.

To my mind the peace and energy that we feel when we are about a task is just one of many criteria used to determine the worth of our efforts. Certainly you describe the type of response that Catholic homeschooling is meant to achieve. Our closeness to the Lord through the study of our faith is a beautiful byproduct of academic study.

I do not rely heavily upon formal testing in my homeschool. I look at the day to day progress as it is achieved individually per student. In other words an enormous success for one student might well be considered mundane for another. I have a daughter with a learning disability. When her tutor tells me that she only made one mistake reading aloud, I am overjoyed. When she makes a 100% on a spelling test it feels like she has just mastered quantum physics. (Maybe I am exaggerating, but I believe you can sense that my feelings of her successes are measured in ways far beyond the scope of a written test).

As the children have continued to progress through the homeschool journey (nearly 10 years now), their achievements from previous years are measured most correctly by their ability to master the next level of work presented to them. One can not master quantum physics without a solid grasp of mathematics from the elementary level upward.

Testing is an issue that comes up frequently in homeschooling circles. To test or not to test. I have spoken with teachers in the public system and they have shared with me the current trend with regard to weekly testing of skills that were covered. I have learned from these persons whose opinion I trust, that testing in its purest sense is really a way to determine the comprehension level of the students. This is far better accomplished through methods that are not geared towards mere reciting facts. For example, having a student reteach the material to you or a younger sibling is very positive. Games that challenge the student to remember the facts, etc. are positive as well. I believe that it was Einstein who said, “I can not say that I understand a concept until I can explain it to your grandmother and she can understand what I have said.” Remember that testing is really a tool that allows the teacher to determine what the student knows. Any way that this can be accomplished should be acceptable.

In our homeschool, we stay with a concept until we feel that it is mastered. I want to make certain that the material is understood and appreciated so that we can move to the next level. It is a certain fact that each lesson builds upon the previous. There really is no reason to hurry a student to complete work for the sake of it. This only slows their progress in the long run.

The greatest successes and achievements that I have ever felt have surely come in the evening when the lights are turned down low and we gather at the family altar to begin our nightly prayers. I am peaceful (even after hectic, disappointing days) as I hear the children begin the rosary. I offer up our failures and challenges to the good Jesus and ask for His help to begin again in the morning. I remind myself that each of our dear children was created for God’s purpose, and He alone will see to that purpose if I will return them to Him. God does not need to call the qualified for He alone can qualify the called.

I hope my opinion has helped you, dear mom, and not confused you (as much as quantum physics).

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

About Rita Munn

Rita Munn is a veteran homeschool mother of ten. For many years she was a popular speaker at Catholic homeschooling conferences. Writing has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember, and she loves to use her writing skills to share her homeschooling experience with other parents. Her “family journal” reflections are featured in CHC’s Educating for Eternity e-newsletter.