Grading for Homeschoolers

I received an e-mail from a woman whose children were early elementary and preschool:

My question is simply what do you do about grading? I have heard some parents don’t feel the need to grade their children and that grading is governmentally instituted anyway. But I do wonder if the children aren’t graded, how will we make out their transcripts?

I would greatly appreciate your advice on this matter. Thank you so much for being of assistance to homeschooling families through your blog, videos, etc.

Here was my response to her e-mail:

What most people don’t realize is that transcripts are not necessary until high school, because you need them to get into college. Certainly, even the public schools don’t give grades to a 5-year-old. They put “Satisfactory” or “Excellent” or whatever. Elementary school doesn’t need grades. But if you wanted to make a transcript just for fun, you could list all the subjects you taught, and write down how you thought your child did at the end of each year.

For example, my kids are way above average in every subject, so if I was inventing a transcript, I would make a list of classes and put A’s on the other side. It’s that easy. If they mess up on some of their math, I might put a B in that subject. Right now my older two sons are doing Teaching Textbooks for math, and the computer grades their work automatically. So they do get grades for math, even though I never use them.

[For people who are not homeschoolers who are reading this, my 11-year-old, for example, is doing pre-algebra and getting A’s. If he got B’s, I would write that down on a transcript, but the fact that he’s 3 years ahead in math would indicate that if he was in a school institution at his age level, he would be getting A’s. So all this talk of grades is completely irrelevant to a homeschooler until high school.]

[Even if your homeschooled child is behind, grades are irrelevant. As a public school teacher, I had an entire room of children who were behind except for one or two. I’m not joking. Our school system spits out functionally illiterate people. At home, the parent is tutoring that child, and the child is progressing as fast as is humanly possible in their particular circumstances. By the way, as a teacher, I was forced to “pass” children to the next grade level, even though their grades showed failure. Grades are a sham.]

As a teacher, the reason I gave grades was to show the students and their parents how they were doing. If they didn’t pay attention at all in class, they wouldn’t know the material. This doesn’t happen in homeschool. I’m looking straight at my child, and I don’t move on until my child has grasped the material. This would be an A. It’s like tutoring really. The parent is you, so you don’t need to show yourself what your child is doing. You already know based on the work your child is doing, and on their knowledge that they have about a particular subject.

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6 Responses to “Grading for Homeschoolers”

  1. Debbie says:

    I graded my kids work like spelling, math etc ones where there were definitive right and wrong answers from k through 12th grade. I just divided the number right into number of questions and came up with a percentage. In the early years it was a gauge to see if I was teaching concepts well or if I needed to challenge them more. When they were in their high school years, I made sure to keep accurate grades and transcripts as well as iIdid IOWA testing yearly from grades 3 on. The state we lived in, testing was required if you did not have a teaching degree or a certified teacher overseeing. I did not orient our study for the tests but felt my kids needed the experience of testing before taking SATs for etc for college. My only challenge with testing is my black and white truth oriented daughter did not want to answer the science questions with what they considered right. After much talking we did convince her she needed to answer with what they thought was right to score well even though we knew it wasn’t true and actually the wrong answer. 😉
    We did unit studies until 8th grade then we had modified units around bible, history and literature but needed to devote more structured classwork to things like biology, chemistry, geometry, foreign language and other upper grade classes.
    Both of our children attended college with scholarships and did very well.They had learned independent study habits which both told me while in college was the biggest advantage they had over non-home schooled kids in their college courses.
    Our son was a brain and liked to zip through his work as quick as possible so because of that I would not let him go on to a next unit or chapter if he scored under 90% on his test. I required the same of our daughter except in the area of math (she had the same struggle in that area as her mom!) where we required 80%. If we had a child with learning challenges I would have done something differently.
    Weekly requirement we had is that all work for that week must be finished before going to a PE/park group that met noon til 3 or so each Friday afternoon. It gave motivation to finish.
    Looking back over our years of home schooling from the lens of a mother of grown and married children, I would definitely test and grade my children. As I told them the grades were as much my grades on how well I was teaching them as how well they were learning.



  2. Debbie says:

    PS to above message
    When we first did the IOWA Tests both of my kiddos scored well except for grammar. I used the test results to evaluate my teaching approach and curriculum. After much research, I made some drastic changes and the next year they both raised 4 to 5 grade levels in that area.All the following years they tested above grade level in all areas which assured me I was not failing them as a teacher.

  3. I am enjoying your blog. Homeschool is such an undertaking. It is great to have great resources out there. thanks Kristy

  4. Laurie says:

    Thank you so much for your great blog!

  5. Kyle McVay says:

    I agree. I do grade math and spelling & do a rubric for writing. I do this so I can determine how weak they are doing in a subject. Do they need more help on a math concept etc. That said I don’t record any grades because once we move on they know it. So like you said it’s an A. Now one thing I hadn’t thought about was considering the actual level they are working at. Like you I have a 10 year old who will do pre-algebra next year. So if common sense dictates that they should get an A. We have a special needs child we pretty much do the same with her. We take a standardized test every couple of years and assuming everyone is still above grade level w just keep on. This is a great article.

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