This is my first year using the Charlotte Mason Method in our quarterly exams. This method has relieved all the pressure I felt when we had the true/ false questions with the occasional fill in the blank sections. Many standardized tests prioritize memorizing facts, but often lacked the child communicating ideas. They memorize information, but learn very little. I find the opposite is true when using the Charlotte Mason Method in exams. My child’s heart and his ideas are center stage. He narrates all he knows-what he loves, what disgusts him and why (they are opinionated!), and what inspires him. A Charlotte Mason Exam gives my child the opportunity to communicate how the facts apply to real life. The best part is that learning doesn’t stop when the exam is over. It continues because like Charlotte Mason said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.”
Tools you need to give Charlotte Mason exams
Mead Notebook. You will need one for each child you teach. Divide the notebook into four even sections for each quarter of exams throughout the year. I break each quarterly section down evenly based on how many subjects the child is studying. For example, if your child is studying 6 subjects then the quarterly section should be broken down into 6 sections for each subject.
Pencil or Pen. As your child narrates, you will write down their response to the exam question.
Recording Devise. This is optional. I choose to record the exams. It’s a great way to see your child’s growth over time. I use my iPhone and then transfer the files to my computer.
List of open-ended questions. For each subject, I ask two questions. I write each question down in the Mead Notebook, and below the question, I write down my child’s narration.
What a Charlotte Mason exam looks like
First, I make sure my child’s Mead notebook is divided into four equal parts. I write down the subject and the two questions I’m going to ask them for the exam. It’s important that during exams, you try your best to keep the house quiet. If you have littles, do the best you can. But life happens. Don’t freak out if during an exam, your little one yells, “I’m done!!” at the top of his lungs because he needs you to wipe his butt. Like I said, life happens. Do the best you can with the season of life you are in.
I set my phone to record. I say my child’s name, the quarter (first, second, third, fourth). This makes it easier when I’m putting the files on my computer. After I ask the exam question, my child has center stage. He tells me everything he knows about the question. During his narration, I’m writing everything he’s telling me. This is not a time to point out what he doesn’t know. Never tell your child during an exam something he said wrong. Your job is to write-that’s it.
At the end, there are usually no comments or discussions about their narration. After they leave, I write down some notes I want to remember. I may even record my thoughts as well. Notes have more to do with me as a teacher than with my child because my child’s narrations directly reflect how I teach throughout the year. I ask myself these questions: What habits need to be a priority in myself and my child to encourage them to do better in their narrations? What are their strengths? Weaknesses? After I answer these questions, I can see what areas I need to focus on for the rest of year.