My two boys in grades 10 and 5, write exams in June and again in November. I chose a curriculum that has exams because an exam is a review of everything they have learnt for the year. It helps me understand which subjects need more attention in the new term or new year.
We zone into those problem areas with extra lessons through a tutor or with mom focusing more time on certain areas in the evenings. We can focus on doing more examples if its Maths or English and if it’s a study subject like History or Science, it helps me to monitor studying more carefully, by making sure they study a little harder. Sometimes I do random testing on study subjects, much to their dislike! After writing the June exam we received a report back from TCE principal, I then realised we needed to work harder in certain subjects especially Afrikaans. I sent a message on the home-school WhatsApp group (again an amazing support system) and managed find and enlist the help of an Afrikaans teacher who did tutoring in the afternoons from her home. I noticed an improvement every week. It’s harder to judge this on a day to day basis where they are understanding the concept been taught then and there. Whereas in an exam there are more concepts added and they must learn A plus B together, it can be confusing if the concepts are not fully understood.
They write the exams in the comfort of their own home, so it does lessen the pressure experienced when compared to school exams. They both have their own study space with a desk and chair and we try our best to keep the home quiet and free from anything distracting while they focus. (not that easy when you have the little sister in grade 2, who doesn’t do exams yet!)
I am requested by Theocentric Christian Education to sign a parental declaration form which states that I will not or have not assisted them in any way during the exam. This is very difficult as a parent, because especially as a mom, we have a natural instinct to want to help our kids. I must remind myself that it will only hurt them in the long run. The exam period is their time to figure it out, to work independently and to do their best without mom helping.
I do not have the answers to the exams. The exam question papers are downloaded from the Theocentric Christian Educations website and printed out. They write one to two papers per day depending on the subject, for example maths is written alone, but English paper one and two are written together.
Once the entire exam is completed I scan and email all the papers to T.C.E head office where the exams are marked. I also email my completed marksheet form which contains the marks for test done throughout the year. This continuous assessment marks together with the final exam marks are calculated together and an average mark for the term is then given on their final report.
They set goals to achieve higher than they did last term. They get excited to see what their reports will hold. We also give them different incentives to encourage them to do their best. I believe in rewarding good results, I’ve seen the benefits of a reward system as an incentive for hard work.
Deborah Pretorius is a mother of 3 kids and a BCom graduate on the amazing adventure of home schooling her family.