in Admittedly, I am a nerd. I like data, statistics, reviews, proofs, and logic. Understanding how an endeavor is doing, assessing strengths & weaknesses, planning improvements, and implementing changes are all efforts that motivate me to “make things happen”; especially when the end goal is something of significance. So, what happens when a nerd like me homeschools? I assign grades.
Now while many may be cringing right now, there are still others who may be curious to know why I believe formally assessing our children’s progress is a positive goal, worthy of consideration. Even when children are younger, I find value in this process, both as a teacher and as a parent.
But first, let’s consider the common objections to assigning grades. Grades are pointless since my student and I already know how they are doing and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Grades are not helpful since it becomes about the letter or percentage and not about what was really learned. Grades are hard to assign to subjects like writing, reading, and history unless I do formal testing. Grades are not necessary since it creates busy work.
While such objections are common, I do not agree with the perceived drawbacks to grading. So what does grading look like in the Gary household? In the younger years, just keeping a portfolio of the student's best work is sufficient. However, between third and fifth grade, it is useful to still keep a portfolio and to start assigning formal grades annually. By high school, we add to this process the need to assign credits. Once we begin formal grades, I do not simply list subjects and assign letter grades. Instead, I begin with a definition of what the letter grades mean.
Here are the definitions of each letter:
I do not define grades to be lower than a “C” since that indicates a problem with how I am teaching (and parenting) more than it reflects my student’s progress. In practice, however, I do not even assign grades lower than a "B" since we teach the points either to mastery (i.e. for language and math skills) or to a proper amount of exposure (i.e. the humanities like art, science, history, and literature). So, they receive good grades not because I am their mom but because we teach to the point that they have achieved the stated goal!
Now while these grading definitions may at first appear too broad to be useful, there are some essential points to keep in mind about how to assign them, what they mean, and what benefits result. So let's explore these five major areas of how grades, when thoughtfully issued, benefit the student, the teacher, and the family as a whole.
For access to the full version of this ~2800-word article including grading samples, contact Carol Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org and join The Balanced Homeschooler today! TBH moms may use our private Facebook group to access full articles, such as this one, templates, and many additional resources.*
*Current TBH Moms - https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebalancedhomeschooler/ The full version of this article, originally posted on 6-14-17, is currently available in the "Files" section and ready for you to read on our private Facebook!
Homeschooling since 2000, Carol shares in her blog observations, confessions, and musings that help provide perspective and inspiration for homeschooling moms.