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Testing Your Child’s Knowledge Kills the Interest to Learn

According to Doman philosophy, you should never, never “test” your child in an effort to find out what he has learned. Doman claims this to be the downfall of schools – testing children. Nobody likes to be tested, and least of all, the children. And if you test your child, Doman warns, you will kill off his interest in learning faster than you can say, “Read this please?”

You should never ask him to demonstrate what he has learned for others either. A common example is when your child is learning to speak and a proud grandparent keeps asking him to repeat his “new” words as a demonstration for friends and relatives. I’m sure this scenario is familiar: “Oh, he’s just learned to say ‘Daddy’. Darling, say ‘Dada’.” He might accommodate you a few times, but after a while, he’ll get sick of playing parrot. After that, you never hear him say “Dada” again.

So how do you find out what your child has learned if you can’t test him? Doman suggests that you give your child problem solving questions. Apparently, this isn’t considered testing. You’re just giving him a problem to solve if he wants to. In Doman’s example, if you wanted to find out what your child can read, you simply give your child a problem similar to the following:

Hold up two cards and ask, “Which one reads ‘elephant’?” And your child will point to the card that reads ‘elephant’.

It probably goes without saying that you shouldn’t overdo this either because it gets tedious for your child. Are there any other ways you can secretly test your child to find out what he’s learned?

This is where I find products like Fun Thinkers and Brain Quest to be quite useful. Just by observing Gavin working through the problems, I can find out what he has learned and what he doesn’t know. It doesn’t have to be these specific activities. It just has to be something that your child enjoys doing that doubles with the benefit of revealing what he has learned.

In Heguru, the children are asked to do fun puzzles. For example, they might be given pictures of objects, such as a loaf of bread, a letter, and money and they will be asked to put each object with the place they belong to, e.g. a bank, a bakery, and a post office. Another example would be to identify which object is heavier/lighter, which is the front and which is the back, or what is the shadow of? Puzzles like these can be easily created at home with pictures from a magazine, or by printing off pictures from Google Images.

Sometimes, your child may deliberately give you the wrong answer. For instance, if he is supposed to identify the largest object, he will identify the smallest object. As irritating and frustrating as it is whenever your child does that, there is something positive to be derived from it – you will know that your child has learned his opposites.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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