Written by contributor Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
Like many homeschool families, we don’t use tests as a measure of our children’s progress very often. The math program that the kids use does regular quizzes and tests, as does the computer-based program that my older daughter uses. For my younger kids, though, testing is not my primary means of checking their level of retention or comprehension.
We’ve used a lot of different methods for assessing their progress over the years, but one that I’m really enjoying now as part of the new curriculum we’re using is the oral presentation. Despite very little preparation time, I was really impressed with their first oral presentation – both how much they retained and what they chose to include.
My youngest gave an eloquent synopsis of one of our read aloud books, while my son gave a detailed description of the weather watching instruments we’d made and how they worked. We made some mental notes on how to improve next time, but overall, I found the presentation a great way for the kids to review and demonstrate what they’d learned and a fun way to show Dad what we’ve been doing.
What are some things that you should include in an oral presentation?
If your kids have learned any poems or memorized any speeches or scripture verses, include them! On our second presentation, I plan to have one of the kids recite an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, while the other will be reciting the preamble to the Constitution.
You don’t necessarily want your child reading his 5-paragraph written book report, but including a synopsis of one of the books he’s read or telling a favorite part of a book is a great way to see what he remembers most from the story.
Photo by jimmiehomeschoolmom
Include any hands-on projects or crafts that you made because they give a kid something to focus on besides the fact that everyone is watching him and waiting on him to remember what he is supposed to say.
Describing a science project that you made or the replica of the Nile that you built is a great way to reinforce lessons learned, as well as seeing what he remembers about it.
Showing Dad (or Mom, siblings, or grandparents) her art work gives your child a chance to show pride in her work, but also allows her the opportunity to describe the techniques or mediums used or artist imitated to create the piece.
Who has your child been learning about? Which of these people was his favorite? What did this person do that made him the favorite?
Sharing details about a real person is so much more memorable than sharing dry dates or random facts – and often it’s those memorable anecdotes that help the dates and facts stick in your child’s mind. Encourage him to include his favorite person, along with facts about the person’s life and contributions, in his presentation.
Did your studies take you to new and exciting places? Remind your child to share those adventures with her audience. Where did you go? What happened there? What makes it memorable?
I loved that my daughter included Vermont in her last presentation. We were amazed that it takes 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup and that Vermont produces over 500,000 gallons of said syrup each year!
Q & A
Be sure to have your child ask if there are any questions when he’s finished. It’s a good idea to remind the audience ahead of time to be thinking of questions – and to encourage them not to ask “quiz type” questions that can make a kid feel like you’re trying to trip him up, but rather questions that seek to have the child respond to what he has learned, such as:
- What was your favorite…?
- How does that work?
- How would you have responded?
- What do you think about…?
- Is that how you would have acted?
- What would you have done differently?
Do you use presentations or something similar to assess your child’s understanding? What suggestions would you add?