“The schoolboy ‘crams’ for an examination, writes down what he has thus learned, and behold, it is gone from his gaze for ever: as Ruskin puts it, ‘They cram to pass, and not to know, they do pass, and they don’t know’ ” – Charlotte Mason
While Charlotte Mason did not advocate the type of tests you’ll find in public school, Charlotte Mason did give exams every term. Whether that surprises you or not, she always has a reason for why end of term exams are essential for education. Here is how to easily implement Charlotte Mason end of term exams!
Why End of Term Exams are Essential
Yes, it’s true that we do evaluate our child’s learning comprehension through narration. Yet, term exams are a supplement to these assessments. Narration is short term memory type of evaluation, whereas end of term tests are for long term memory. It gives you as the teacher an idea of what stories and facts are meaningful to him or her.
Plus, an end of term exam is a great tool for your child to retain their knowledge as a long term goal. If your child knows they will be asked about their material in the future, they’ll be intentional about remembering their reading passages.
Think of these End of Term Assessments as training tools — a way for our children to gather intel, categorize the data, and then iterate their thoughts through speaking or writing them down.
Public School Students Pass Exams, Charlotte Mason Students Gain Knowledge
In Volume 4, a passage discusses how student cram to pass a test, but fail to remember what they know. Gaining knowledge should be a delight and a discovery for your student.
When assessing your child using the Charlotte Mason method, your student recalls their knowledge of the subject. Then, they translate that knowledge into a sequential, viable conversation in a written or oral format.
Comparing Charlotte Mason End of Term Exams vs Typical School Exams
Please keep in mind that these examinations are NOT like your typical tests in a typical school. They are not “fill in the blank”, True or False, or multiple choice. These typical types of assessments do NOT mimic real-life scenarios! We do not get multiple choice questions or exams when making decisions. In real life, we base our decisions on facts and history.
Instead, Charlotte Mason encouraged “Open Ended” questions. What are “Open Ended Questions? They encourage meaningful answers using the child’s knowledge and/or feelings. Whereas, a closed-ended question requires a short or single-word answer.
Here are some examples to help: “What is David’s character like in the story?” or “Teach me how you sew a pillow.” These type of questions are obviously much different that your typical test or quiz.
If you are looking for more examples, check out Ambleside Online’s Charlotte Mason End of Term exams.
How To Easily Implement Charlotte Mason End Of Term Exams
Here is how to easily incorporate end of years exams without a ton of effort. First, you’ll want to write down all of the literature your child is currently reading in their lesson plans. Then, apply two or three open-ended questions using the examples above for each living book.
Remember, these exams aren’t like public school where it focuses purely on academics. It should include anything your child is learning — whether it’s handicrafts, artists, hymns, songs, and of course, the precious Bible!
Don’t forget to set aside a few days or even an entire week for end of term exams (for older children). In other words, instead of their assigned lesson for the day, replace it with exam questions. Expect these assessments to take about the same time as a typical lesson.
Younger children who are still perfecting their writing skills can answer orally. Older children should write their answers on paper neatly and the correct punctuation within their ability.
As we wrap up, these end of term exams will not only be extremely helpful for your students, but also give you an indication on you as a teacher. If your child struggles with these tests, use this information to change your approach. Give your child a smaller amount to read, change the format like using audiobooks, or read aloud together.
There are so many ways to make this process easy and pleasant for you and your child. Don’t stress about it, instead, see it as a teaching tool to assess your child’s weaknesses and strengths. And, above all, take this time to learn more about our beautiful history, together!
Example End of Term Exam Questions from PNEU
The PENU school exams have been saved and these are some actual questions from those exams to get you started.
Form 1 (approximately grades 1 through 3)
Bible – 2-4 questions such as:
Tell about Gideon and his three hundred.
Tell something of what happened on Easter Sunday.
Tell how Christ fed the hungry crowds. How does He feed us today?
Tell the story of Moses striking the rock, or, about his last birthday.
Writing – 1 question such as:
Write “How the leopard got his spots.”
Write two lines of poetry from memory.
Write a line of poetry from memory.
English History – 2 or 3 questions depending on age, such as:
What did children play at in the old times?
Tell how Princess Victoria came to be Queen, or, a story about President Lincoln.
Tell what you know about William the Red, or, about “The White Ship.”
Tales – 1 or 2 questions, depending on age of student such as:
Tell a short fairy tale.
Describe the journey of Skirnir to Svartheim.
Tell about two things Christian saw in the House of the Interpreter, or, about Mr. Worldly Wiseman.
Geography – 2 questions such as:
Draw the shape of the earth in a tray of sand, and show where the hot countries are and where the cold OR
Tell about the wild man of the woods and the great bird of the desert.
Can you explain why the sun never seems to remain still in the same place?
Natural History (science) – 3 questions such as:
Describe two water creatures, and tell all you have noticed about them.
Describe the nicest walk you have had this term. What did you find?
Describe two wild flowers you have found and two birds you have watched.
Reading (Phonics) – 1 task, such as:
Father to choose unseen passage, marking words not known.
Numbers/Sums – 2 or 3 questions such as:
There are two numbers; their sum is 960; the greater is 527; what is the less?
If oranges are 10 for ninepence, how many shall I get for three shillings?
If 150 soldiers march in rows of 5, how many rows are there?
I had 48 eggs. I sold one dozen and a half to Mr. Smith and two dozen to Mr. Jones. How many had I left?
French – 2 or 3 questions such as:
Recite Lucienne découpe des images.
Recite Le Chanson de la Laine.
Recite Minet et la Souris.
Picture Talk/Picture Study – 1 question such as:
Describe the picture by Burne Jones you liked best this term.
Describe “The Shepherdess” or “Feeding the Birds,” by J.F. Millet.
Describe Watts’ “Una and the Red Cross Knight.”
Brushdrawing – 2 or 3 tasks such as:
The outline of an animal in brushwork.
A picture (with name) of someone doing something you have read about in your Tales.
Two wild flowers you can find.
Recitations – 1 task such as:
Father to choose a hymn, a poem, a Psalm, and two passages from the Bible Lessons.
Music – Examine work done and 1 question such as:
What piece did you like best of the music you have heard this term? Why?
Tell about some composition by Schumann you have heard.
Singing – Father to choose an English and a French song, and two Tonic Sol-fa exercises.
Drill – (exercise/calisthenics) – Drill, before parents.
Handiwork – Outside friend to examine work.