Thank you for such an uplifting letter. It is a powerful witness to the body of parents who are striving to do the Lord's will through homeschooling to read your positive and upbeat description of the process.
To my mind the peace and energy that we feel when we are about a task is just one of many criterion used to determine the worth of our efforts. Certainly you describe the type of response that Catholic homeschooling is meant to achieve. Our closeness to the Lord through the study of our faith is a beautiful byproduct of academic study. I like to think that when we prioritize our efforts with the Lord at the top of the list then the effects are felt in a very positive way all through our family and subsequently the homeschool. I believe very strongly that homeschooling becomes a lifestyle and as such has the power to change families in very profound ways. Anytime we follow the Lord's will for our lives our lives will be transformed into unions of peace and holiness.
I do not rely heavily upon formal testing in my homeschool. I look to the day to day progress as it is achieved individually per student. In other words an enormous success for one student might well be considered mundane for another. I have a daughter with a learning disability. When her tutor tells me that she only made one mistake reading aloud I am overjoyed. When she makes a 100% on a spelling test it feels like she has just mastered quantum physics. (Maybe I am exaggerating but I believe you can sense that my feelings of her successes are measured in ways far beyond the scope of a written test.)
As the children have continued to progress through the homeschool journey (nearly 10 years now) their achievements from previous years are measured most correctly by their ability to master the next level of work presented to them. One can not master quantum physics without a solid grasp of mathematics from the elementary level upward.
I think testing should remain the personal responsibility of the parent. Certainly genuinely sincere and caring parents want to know the progress their child is experiencing. For the same reasons that one would take a child to have a yearly physical exam, one would feel the need to make a judgment about their academic progress. Testing for this evaluation can mean many different methods and means for each parent.
In years past I have ordered standardized tests and had them administered to my children by a third party. Our homeschool co-op offers the option of testing at the close of the academic year. Some states require formal evaluation at certain grade levels. On and on, there is more than one way to evaluate progress or the need for intervention and help.
No matter what a test would ever say about my child's progress it would pale in comparison to the deep held belief that I have concerning a parent's right and privilege to educate their child. The greatest successes and achievements that I have ever felt have surely come in the evening when the lights are turned down low and we gather at the family altar to begin our nightly prayers. I am peaceful (even after hectic, disappointing days) as I hear the children begin the rosary. I offer up our failures and challenges to the good Jesus and ask for His help to begin again in the dawn. I remind myself that each of our dear children was created for God's purpose and He alone will see to that purpose if I will but return them to Him. God does not need to call the qualified for He alone can qualify the called.
I hope my opinion has helped you, dear mom, and not confused you (as much as quantum physics).
Let us pray together the Hail Mary this evening for each other's intentions. Keep up the faithful work. God love you.
Sending out a prayer,