This week, precisely today and until Friday, we are doing exams for term 2 of years 2 and years 4. I started exams last year after putting the task off for quite a while. Exams with Ambleside Online and Charlotte Mason are different, they should not intimidate us. They are not to give grades, catch you in what you don’t know, or test you in which you have memorized. It’s an extension and reflection on what we do on a regular basis. Example of a question for year 4, “tell about two of these: Benjamin Franklin, James Oglethorpe, la Salle, King William’s War, or Chief Pontiac”; for math, an exam from the program they follow or a couple of questions are provided at the AO page, the children are asked to show their handicraft, to recite to father what they have committed to memory, show their music instrument pieces, describe a picture from their picture study, a piece from their composer study, sing their favorite hymn and folk song… Exams are made to give a chance to the student to reflect upon a terms worth of learning and shine and rejoice in all.
As I tweak a bit the questions to fit our Bible reading schedule and our Geography detour, I look at those areas and questions I am almost sure the girls will most likely not remember (since I don’t know many of the answers, I am assuming they won’t either). I am probably too harsh. It can be the case they surprise me remembering more than I expect, and doing better than I expect. It should humble me that, even though I have read many of the books, and some twice, I still cannot articulate a good answer to many of the questions. But even if they cannot answer to some, or even many of the questions, I should still be glad for that which they will be sharing and showing me.
Let’s be honest, I don’t like exams because they expose without shame those areas in our studies we have not done specially well, -and we teachers are to take responsibility for those-. I conclude I should not fear exams but do them, and do them as often as they need to be done (at the end of each term). “Humble yourself, Silvia”, this is not a competition for your daughters, or a chance to come back and brag about them, or whine about them… take it as it comes. Rejoice in whatever goes well, and set to work on that which needs attention. After all, they have their lifetime to keep facing these real exams that come to make them stop, look back, and recall that which they care about and know.
As soon as I finish typing this and I hit publish, I will retire to pray about exams, because my tone of voice, my whole attitude when asking them these questions, will matter much. They will sense my disappointment, my doubts, my anxiety, and I want to be the teacher that rejoices, that is content with whatever the outcome of the exams, and that will be able to see growth and humbly roll up her sleeves and simply keep on keeping on.
Not only they do better at exams every term, likewise, we, moms and teachers, should be learning to conduct the exam week or days in a gracious manner, keeping in mind why exams are important and why we should not fret about the outcome but rejoice, learn from them, and keep working.