Intermittent warmer temperatures and sunnier days indicate spring is here, and my family feels the full brunt of the spring calendar with our busy spring sports schedule. Baseball, soccer, and gymnastics practices five days a week keeps my minivan hopping from field to field all over the Miami Valley. Each practice is designed to prepare the player for a goal—the game on Saturday. However, does “practice make perfect”? I would argue, no! Even the most dedicated Olympian athletes, those who have come the closest to perfection, experience shattered dreams with the slip of a ski or a missed jump. Perfection on this side of heaven is not something to be grasped, so I’ve chosen to adopt the motto, “practice makes progress.”
Not only is practice necessary in sports, music, or drama, but every day our children engage in practice through schooling. Is learning math facts the end goal? Does completing the entire curriculum book by the end of May constitute success? From sight words, to math facts, to writing creative sentences, children are practicing what they learn. After identifying what your children have mastered, and what they still need to practice, like a diligent coach, homeschooling parents can go back and fill in gaps before moving on to the next lesson. But is the goal about mastering the next lesson? Or the next? What is the ultimate goal for our children? For what are we having them practice? According to scripture, our goal is to adequately prepare them, according to their bent, not for a game on Saturday, but rather, for Life. What knowledge and skills do they need to practice over and over, ensuring they will make progress (not perfection) to fulfill God’s calling on their lives?
Tomorrow and Friday DCSS Homeschool students will participate in TerraNova3 standardized testing. I am thankful our students have the opportunity to practice what they know in a safe, loving environment. At this stage of the academic spectrum, the stakes for academic testing are low. The pressure is off, and students are free to demonstrate what they have learned this year. I believe standardized testing is practice, not the goal. Learning how to bubble in answers, how to think critically about what is being asked on the test, and how to discern the correct answers are good opportunities for our students to make progress. They do not need to be perfect. But as they practice with tests, year over year, your students will be well-prepared for the high-stakes ACT/SAT tests required for college.
So, I pray you and your children can relax knowing that the practice of taking standardized tests are helping them progress toward the future God has called them in the big game—Life!
Philippians 4:4-9 reminds us: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”