Alternatives to Assessments 

Sometimes while out with my kids I see opportunities to "teacher talk" with them and expand our conversations. Other times they will bring up something that sparks a memory from my teaching days or I see something schoolish that they might enjoy. With this in mind, I have decided to share some of my tips and tricks with you each month. I will present two tips each month, working my way through the alphabet as a guide.

A is for ASSESSMENTS Testing. Assessments. Yes, I said it. I know there are many of you who are rolling their eyes right now, but let's face it: sometimes we want to know what our kids know. I have developed some alternative assessment practices that I can sneak in with my kiddos to help assess their learning without making it too formal. It was important to me to be able to do this on the fly because "seated with a scantron filling in bubbles" just isn't our thing. And really, no matter what kind of homeschooler you are, these alternatives can be applied in any type of teaching for any type of learner.

Debate or discuss the opposite points of view. Sometimes knowing something inside and out is the greatest test of all. This of course can be done formally on paper, informally by making a little check list or chart, or completed as an activity for non-writers through drawing or theater. Whatever mode your kid loves most can be used to help them examine opposing ideas with a little bit of guidance. It really doesn't matter how you choose to complete this. The main idea is to spend time with your child identifying any opposing thoughts, beliefs or facts about a particular topic. Sorting out oppositional points is one of the best ways to assess where their understanding is advanced or needs a little guidance.

Create As an art lover, I try to find ways to integrate crafting into all of my learning. This can be as straight forward like making models of whatever you are studying or as abstract as creating an interpretive dance based on the topic. Anything you are studying can be translated into an art assessment of how your child sees the world. This is my favorite way to see what my kids are understanding because as they describe their creations to me I hear their vocabulary and see the thought process used to arrive at a particular idea. Most importantly, I often learn more about the world myself as they introduce connections and ideas in their creations. Many times, their artwork has brought to light some of the most profound connections that I never have had myself.

Gather Recognizing patterns is the most important thing we learn. If you know nothing else but how to recognize patterns, you will go far! By teaching our children to gather information and put it together in patterns we can trace their understanding. It is as simple as asking: “What do you see repeating or happening over and over again?” I think this is the best way to assess your children’s learning if you have multiple levels of learners in your home. Here is a cool and cheap game that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers to help assist students with gathering information and assessing their own understanding.

Don't be scared away by the description, it's fully adaptable to your needs. Even if you don't purchse the game, having your kids create their own is a great way to have them gather, create and debate!

Enjoy! For more articles and teaching tips subscribe to the Homeschooler Post Blog. Read and chat with your favorite columnists right on the article page. Need more info or want help applying what you read here? Just comment below.

-Laurie Gracia-Alikhan/ Editor The Homeschooler Post