First of all, be assured of one thing: you are completely qualified to assess your child’s intellectual and moral growth. No teacher certification or education degree necessary. You are smart. You are experienced. You know your child better than anyone in the universe.
At Wonder, we trust you to measure how your child is progressing. We give you the questions, frameworks and data – in clear English – and you decide without the hassles and distractions of meaningless state mandated tests, arbitrary letter grades or confusing academic jargon.
Six Wonder resources that provide hard evidence of transformative growth:
1. Online dashboards – analyze hard data in incredible detail, available to see 24/7/365 as often as you wish.
2. S.M.A.R.T. goal tracking sheets – track your Wonder's goals day by day and week by week; learn where encouragement and tough questions can help.
3. Learning Badges – dig deeply into evidence of the development of real world skills.
4. Peer Review – ask to see Wonder Peer Critiques or 360 Survey results.
5. Learning Exhibitions – see your learner's hard work displayed to the outside world.
6. Portfolios – review them in depth; ask questions; praise effort; and encourage more effort and focus.
Tips to help in your assessment:
Math: The online dashboards of our game-based adaptive programs are rich with analytic data that ensures your Wonder will master math processes. Be sure to ask your own tough math questions in real life and you’ll soon discover our Wonders know how to “do math” in the real world through our projects and quests – from graphing S.M.A.R.T. goals, to counting the money earned in selling their books and designing gardens.
Reading: Ask your Wonder about the books he or she is reading. Read aloud in the evenings; listen to your child read; ask probing questions about the story and characters. Help your child choose books that are not too easy and not too challenging.
Writing: Wonders write every day. First they learn to capture profound thoughts on paper; editing, revision and grammar soon follow. (For me as a parent, this is the area where I must be the most patient with poor handwriting and grammatical mistakes. I must remind myself that diligent practice and a love of writing will fix these problems in time.)
Science, Civilization and other Areas: Listen to your Wonder's interactions with adults and pay close attention to the questions he or she asks. Look for “lessons learned” from the portfolios or the skills displayed at exhibitions.
Some Parting Words
Yes, it’s easy to get scared and worry about your Wonder's future. You’ve probably worried what they are missing by going to a school that does not have grades, grade levels and a standardized approach to learning.
As a dad, I have to remind myself that learning is hard and messy and happens at different paces within the same age range. There are plateaus – even pauses – in learning rather than steady progressions, and these times are difficult. So is resisting the temptation to compare them to other children.
And, there are times when I have trouble trusting my children’s choices. My son went two weeks straight doing only math during core skills time. I worried about his reading, until he said: “Dad, I’m going to focus on that next. I was on a roll in math.”
Next time you worry like me, please take some time to dig into those six resources of hard evidence of transformative learning, take a deep breath and trust your child. As hard as it is to do so, it beats the certainty of empty letter grades, hours of meaningless homework and the forced regurgitation of facts that all too often are substituted for real intellectual and moral growth. Then you can relax and truly enjoy this amazing journey.
[Blogs or portion of blogs may be adapted from the blog of our partner school founder and advisor, Laura Sandefer.]