You’ve decided to take your child’s education into your own hands. With that responsibility comes a myriad of thoughts and beliefs of what that should look like. For most homeschooling parents, to give (or not to give) grades is a top concern.
I believe the question is valid, but there is also another side to that question to consider – Are grades actually helping your child’s education?
What is the purpose of grades?
The purpose of grades carries quite a few characteristics. For starters, they can serve as a type of progress report. In public/private school settings, they are a way to literally track a child’s progress. Grades are also a form of communication, letting parents know about the progress their child is making.
Grades are also used as a measuring tool. They are an attempt to show how much a child has learned about a particular subject and/or concept. While the purpose of grades doesn’t seem so bad, there are also downsides to them.
For some children, grades can trigger anxiety and feelings of needing to measure up. They can also create a lack of motivation in children who feel like all they’re doing is learning “for the grade.” With these purposes (good and bad) in mind, let’s look at three questions to consider when asking yourself if grades are actually helping your child’s education.
Is having a grade system required by law?
Without a doubt, it is vital for homeschooling parents to know what is required by their state. In some states, it is not necessary to turn in any type of proof of homeschooling, grading, progress reports, and the like. In other states, it may be absolutely necessary to meet such standards.
If you live in a state that requires some form of grading system, my advice is to create a progress report or grade card and fill it out to the best of your ability. In some cases, it may help to keep a few pieces of work with grades written on them to help with record-keeping.
What is my child’s personality type?
Legalities aside, having an understanding of your child’s personality type can help determine if a grading system is helping or hindering them. Homeschool On has a great personality test for kids that you can use to get an idea of their “color type.”
Once you have an idea of your child’s personality type, you can then plug in ways to hold them accountable for their work completed (or not). For the rule-following, people-pleasing child, he or she may thrive with seeing a physical grade written on their paper.
For the outgoing, impatient child, they may thrive better with a more relaxed or eclectic way of tracking their progress. Sara from Heart and Soul Homeschooling talks a little more about delight-directed schooling on the blog.
Are there other ways to evaluate my child’s work?
Yes. There are many different ways to evaluate your child’s work. One of the biggest go-to ways for the do-it-yourself homeschooling parent is to create your own scale or rubric. Simply identify mile markers or milestones that your child needs to reach.
Some parents also go the pass/do-over (better than saying “fail”) route. Pass means they can move on to the next concept, while do-over means that a little more time will be spent on a subject matter. For the younger homeschooled child, you can get really creative. Stickers, stamps, and keepsake work portfolios are ideas for highlighting work well done.
There are also specific things you can look for when evaluating your child:
For the older homeschooled child, it will most likely be necessary to have a transcript of some sort, especially if they plan to pursue higher education.
Other Concerns About Grades
Grades can sometimes backfire on homeschooling parents, leading one to believe that something is wrong with their “teaching” when their child isn’t doing well. Whether you decide to give formal grades or not, find comfort in these tips:
- Every day is a chance to foster the love of learning in your child.
- You have the ability to provide amazing feedback and help your child individually.
- You can train your children to give their best effort in all they do.
- Remember that your child is not a failure.
- Each child is unique and so will their educational journey be.
In conclusion, grades do not have to be a bad thing. What matters most is if they are actually helping your child’s education, or hindering it.
CHIME IN: Do you give grades in your homeschool? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!