My Science Loving Wunderkind

So Em has been in public school for four weeks now and they have these assessment tests, the NWEA, also known as MAP tests. Apparently, they are assessed three times in a school year – at the beginning, the middle and the end of the year.

Now Em has never taken any kind of assessment test. She’s been homeschooled and I didn’t see any reason for her to take one while we were homeschooling and she was young. Assessments for college, sure, but elementary? Nah.

But public school is a whole new ball of wax. And I couldn’t help but be a little curious. How would she do?

The first one she took was the Reading test. Her score was equivalent to a 7th-grade reading level. And I couldn’t help but be proud. After all, this was a girl who didn’t really “get it” until age 8 1/2. She dug in her heels and avoided reading at all costs.

The second test was Math. Her score was just below grade level. Believe me, this was a relief, because I knew I hadn’t pushed math as much I probably should have. It isn’t my strength, and I had been easily discouraged when she would dig in her heels over math problems.

The third test was Writing and her score placed her in the 6th grade for writing ability – which made me happy and proud. She had also been rather reticent to write much, and I had tried a barrage of different techniques to change the tide on that particular stumbling block.

The final test was taken yesterday. And when she came home, she said, “I scored a 218 on the Science test. I think I did pretty good on it.”

Pretty good? Pretty good?

The expectations for 5th grade are as follows: 200, 203, and 205

I emailed her teacher for more info and was bowled over by the answer…218 equals a 11th grade understanding of┬áScience!!!!

After recovering from this rather stunning news, I began to mentally review how it was possible she got to this level. Here is the list I came up with:

  • Native/innate talent/interest
  • LEARN Math & Science classes at Rockhurst Community Center
  • Science classes through our LEARN co-op
  • Car talks – discussions about what a hypothesis and how to conduct an experiment
  • Science City at Union Station
  • Nature studies – through co-ops, Nature School, City of Fountains, Camp Fire day camp, and walks together
  • Gardening/Chicken Keeping at home
  • Home science experiments and baking

It was actually rather shocking to see how much time we had spent on science. Most of it was a side effect of just having fun – walking, spending time in the garden, visiting Science City, enrolling her in Camp Fire day camp, et cetera.

Can I just say how proud I am of both of us? Me for getting her to these places and helping her explore her interests and her for obviously sucking down the learning when it came to science topics.

I took her to Glace for a celebratory ice cream and let her order whatever she wanted.

Seeing the results of these tests has absolutely changed the way I view our years spent homeschooling. Obviously, she has retained a great deal of knowledge and understanding of material – despite my multitude of fears of inadequacy. It is the atta-girl I have needed in the wake of such upheaval and change.

Retention Not Regurgitation

Lastly, this led to a further explanation/addressing of an issue I had with my dad a week or so ago. I wrote about it here. At dinner Wednesday evening, as we discussed Em’s science score on the NWEA. We asked her what kind of questions there were.

She remembered that there had been 42 questions, but could not recall a single question. She shrugged, “I just don’t remember any of them.”

And it cemented in my brain what I had already suspected. “This is what I was trying to explain. Em does not regurgitate well, but she obviously does a smashing job at retention. And when it comes to learning, retention is what is important, NOT regurgitation.”

I looked at Dad, “You were asking her to regurgitate something she had learned that day. But Em’s brain doesn’t work like that. Obviously, from the scores on the NWEA tests, we can see she has learned a great deal while being homeschooled, but it is all retention. So when we ask something more short-term, she can’t remember it. I would far rather see her retain that just mindlessly regurgitate.”

My little science-y wunderkind. I couldn’t be more proud!

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