Our eldest is not doing as well on tests lately as we'd like. In one class, for example, she has A+'s on every assignment, but her test scores . . . well, they're definitely not A+'s. We know what a bright kid she is. Hubby asked me the other night if she knows how to study for tests, which initially invoked a bit of resentment in me.
But as it turns out, that's a fantastic question.
See, teaching one-on-one, like in homeschooling, is a different game entirely than teaching a group in a classroom setting. When I taught my daughter History, for example, I knew the information and concepts I wanted her to understand. I tried to present them in a way that fit her learning style. We reviewed them frequently. When she clearly didn't understand something, we went over it again, usually in a different manner.
I knew if she understood the material or not -- and I didn't actually test her until I knew she understood the material. I mean, the goal was her learning the material, yes? If she didn't get something, we kept working on it until she did. Tests, for me, were not to assess her understanding -- I did that as I taught. Tests were just a written record to prove someday (if necessary) that the material had been covered successfully.
But when I taught 25 kids in a high school English classroom, I couldn't assess every student's understanding as I taught. There wasn't time to interact with every student individually and question them about the information. I assigned written exercises which often showed me which kids needed more help, but not always. Ultimately, in a classroom, it's the student's responsibility to take in the information and evaluate themselves to know if they're not getting it -- and then go ask for help. Unfortunately, by test time, it's already too late. The class is done with that unit and moving on.
So, no, I probably didn't teach my eldest how to learn in that situation -- when information is presented to you in a blanket one-size-fits-all fashion and you have to take charge of your learning and make it fit you, and get help when it doesn't. And I should have. I knew all along that she would eventually be going back into a factory-model education system, and I should have planned better for that. I focused on her learning -- but success in school these days is as much about working the system as it is about learning (a fact which I have bemoaned since my first year teaching).
Sigh! Every homeschooling mother has fears of putting her child in a "real" classroom someday and finding out she failed her kid entirely. So, I didn't fail her entirely. But I should have anticipated this problem. My bad.