25 March 2017

Day 33 / 106 - SAT/ACT Preparation

Over the past six months, I have spent quite a bit of my spare time taking SAT and ACT practice tests.  Crazy, right?  I know.  (Secretly, I've come to really enjoy it.)  As a result, I have begun to alter how I educate my children, especially my son, as we prepare for these tests in the near future.  In all my research and studying, I have come away with one defining truth:

How well my children are prepared for these tests can significantly impact their future.

I must digress by saying if you know me, you already know that I have NEVER been one who teaches to a test.  In fact, I am almost certain that, on one hand, you can count the amount of tests that both my children (combined) have ever taken.  I believe today's modern tests are not at all an indicator of my children's learning, development, or education.

I also don't believe that in today's day and age it is imperative for all students to attend college.  Job opportunities and readiness exist in the workplace, not on the college campus.  Most degrees are obsolete before they're even earned, and homeschoolers, especially, have learned how to educate themselves in a fraction of the time needed to earn one.  Plus, college is ridiculously expensive.  That brings me back to my defining truth:

Preparation for these tests is a stewardship issue.  

If your children are planning on attending college, how well they perform on one or both of these tests can significantly impact their future.  Specifically, how much it will cost them.

The majority of homeschoolers I know (my family included) are single-income families.  It takes work, effort, and much budgeting to live on one income.  Most months are about making ends meet, not saving for college for multiple children.  That's the reality.

My husband and I spent most of our twenties paying off his undergraduate student loans.  About ten years ago, he went back to school to earn his MBA.  We borrowed a small fraction of what his degree cost (very small, I must add), yet it will take most all of our forties to pay off this loan.  That is even with the added income that comes from having an MBA.

We are committed to homeschooling our children because we long for them to have different opportunities, experiences, and futures than ours.  Naturally, we don't want to saddle them with debt for the better part of their adult lives.  A few additional points on one of these tests can significantly impact their future.  It's a stewardship issue.

As I mentioned above, this year I have altered my son's schooling so that he can spend adequate time beginning to prep for these tests.  My last post did share how he has ample time to spare.  There are differences between these tests and the types of questions asked on each.  Hopefully, I will post more in depth about the tests at a later date.  Until then, here are two changes we've made this school year.

1.  Math

We do math.  And more math.  And even more math.  In fact, I mentioned this a few weeks ago because our primary focus this year has been math.  I have made sure that his schedule is light in other areas, so that he can spend significant time each day learning and mastering math concepts.  It is important to note that I have needed to relearn higher level math alongside him.

It is difficult to prep for either of these tests if a student has not already learned the higher math necessary for the tests.

The other day, in passing, my son started a conversation with me about factoring quadratic trinomials.  He spoke with such ease about the topic, you would have thought he was sharing about a simple cat picture on the Internet.  I am excited for his growing confidence in the subject.

2.  Reading Advanced Documents Other Than Books

This one does hurt a little because truthfully the best part of homeschooling is all the great books you get to read (or re-read) with your children.  Let me take two seconds to again say: when your children are young, stop all that you're doing and instead enjoy reading books.  All the books.  Unfortunately, the day will come when you will no longer be reading all the great books, all the time.

On the SAT specifically, only one of the nine passages a student will read will come from classic literature.  The other eight passages will be science passages, economic selections, excerpts from U.S. founding documents or global conversation speeches, social science selections, articles on major career fields, and more.  The student will need to read passages, interpret informational graphics, answer questions about the content, as well as find mistakes and correct mistakes in these passages.

This year, we have assigned our son countless articles and essays from varying sources (newspapers, journals, magazines, etc.) After reading, our son has either summed up for us the passage, or answered a series of questions on the topic, compliments of my husband.  I must note that my husband has taken lead on these assignments which has helped me tremendously.

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