The When, Why, and How of Homeschool Grading

Most homeschooling parents grade their child’s school work because they have never known any other way. It is easy to assume that because we received grades for all our school work from kindergarten through high school, that we must continue to follow this standard. Keep reading to learn the when, why, and how of homeschool grading.

The when, the why, and the how of homeschool grading

When Should I Grade My Student’s Work?

Like many other educational practices, parents often draw their inspiration from the public school concerning how they assess their child’s school work. Many parents collect grades for their children starting in kindergarten and continue through high school for every worksheet, project, quiz and test they complete. Homeschool grading is necessary, but we need to set the record straight as to when they are necessary and when they are not necessary.

Homeschool grading is not usually required until the high school years specifically for the purposes of creating a transcript. The transcript is what is necessary for your child to attend an institution of higher education. The transcript is proof of your student’s education and lists the course of study your child has completed as well as the grades earned for his studies. All other grades given before the high school years are based more in precedence or preference than necessity.

It is not wrong to issue grades for your young child’s work. My concern here is that we know why we do what we do, and that we are educating our children at home on purpose. There is no rule that says we must duplicate the public classroom in our homes. As with all educational methods adopted in the homeschool, first be familiar with state laws, and also know the good and the challenges that can come from the methods employed in your homeschool.

Why Should I Grade My Student’s Work?

I posed before that all other grades given before the high school years are based more in precedence or preference than necessity. This is due to the fact that the grades given before high school are not required for your child to succeed in his or her education. It is just one way that success can be measured.

There are reasons to grade your child’s work before high school. The most obvious would be if your state laws or umbrella school requires these grades. Beyond being required to collect grades, maybe you as a teacher feel more confident in your ability to teach if you keep giving grades. Another reason may be that your student enjoys getting a grade, and you find your child uniquely shows more focus and willingness to work when they get a grade.

On the other hand, maybe issuing grades causes you a lot of anxiety and stress because you get behind on evaluating your child’s work. Does your child struggle in school and lose confidence when he sees that dropping grade? If any of these apply to you, I would submit to you that you reconsider your method of evaluating your child’s progress in the classroom.

I have been homeschooling since 2011 and I have seven children spanning elementary, middle, and high school. We do not give numeric or letter grades for every subject until my children reach high school. Classroom grades are not required by our state laws but standardized testing is. I am able to see how my kids line up according to state standards using the standardized testing. For our regular school work, I have found other ways to give my children feedback on their work and assess their progress.

Here are a few ways to evaluate your student without grades:

  • Amount of Improvement: You can see how much a child has improved, if he is able to progress to the next thing with little or no difficulty.
  • Speed of Improvement: You can see how quickly the child is able to progress through his work and move to the next thing with little or no difficulty.
  • Level of Effort: You can check your child’s progress by the level of effort he is having to exert in order to progress through his work.
  • Participation and Conversation: You can evaluate your child’s understanding of a subject based on his aptitude in conversation and participation. Is he engaged in the project? Is he able to relate his knowledge of the subject back to you verbally in a way that shows his level of understanding?
  • Attitude: You can assess your child’s progress in education based on his attitude towards his education.

Assessment Is Necessary

Not everyone who homeschools has a thorough education themselves. Also not every parent who homeschools knows how to properly assess their child’s work. You may not know what skill sets are normal, valuable, or natural for each stage of learning. As homeschoolers we might be cautious when looking at anything that places our children into a “box,” but at the same time let those standards inform you as to what is expected of other children your student’s age. This is good knowledge to have, and homeschoolers who must take standardized tests to meet state laws use it to shed light on where their child might need a little extra work.

Not assessing your children on a regular basis would be a very dangerous game. Education is a serious matter and therefore should be taken seriously. There are certain benchmarks students must meet along the way in order to complete high school. These benchmarks are important for you to know and strive to hit. If your child is struggling in school to meet those benchmarks there are ways to adapt, but ultimately your child will need to complete your state’s requirements to graduate high school and enter college. Your student’s future is at stake!

Homeschool Grading in High School

Homeschool grades in the younger years may not be necessary, but homeschool records are of the utmost importance. On the one hand, you want to have them ready in case a social worker ever comes knocking desiring proof of your child’s education. On the other hand, homeschool records are the backbone documents that help keep you on track in your homeschool journey.

If you have a high schooler you will want to create a 4-Year Plan for their high school years. This plan will include a map of sorts to direct your child toward higher education and/ or a career path. This 4-year High School Plan should have the subjects and extra-curriculars both required by your state laws and your family for your child to complete by the end of high school. This is an easy to consult guide to keep your on track toward graduation. Download your free copy of the 4-Year High School Plan, here.

Keeping grades for your high school student is paramount for compiling his transcript, but it is also necessary to prepare your child for higher education where grades will be issued. Children who are not used to evaluation will not easily accept criticism from others. Beyond the university setting, our students need training on accepting critique in the workplace as well. I highly recommend that you have your high schooler at some point be evaluated by someone outside the family. You might even consider hiring a professional editor to edit one of your student’s research papers. This practice can introduce your child to a more rigorous style of assessment and be valuable to your student’s growth.

How Should I Grade My Student’s Work

Homeschool Planet’s Online Planner is the perfect resource for aiding you in tracking your child’s educational records and in keeping grades. Homeschool Planet will also calculate your child’s GPA and compile your student’s transcript. You will love how seamless these features are to use!

If you are new to Homeschool Planet and want to try it risk free for 30 days, click here.

Check out just a few of the tutorials for Homeschool Grading with Homeschoool Planet below:

Find more tutorials on grading in Homeschool Planet here.

Wondering what the difference between a Grade Report and a Report Card is?

That’s a fair question! In short a Report Card is a list of classes with final grades from a specific period of time like a semester or a school year while a Grade Report can include a list of grades for individual assignments or a summary by category.

In summary, I hope that you have found this article exploring the why, when, and how of homeschool grading to be helpful in your analysis of your own methods of assessing your student’s work. Where grading a child’s work in the early years is not necessary, there are many good reasons for doing so. For those who need permission to cease and desist from grading all of their child’s work, I hope I have delivered. However, when it comes to the high school years, I sincerely desire that you see the necessity of keeping records of grades with the primary goal of compiling a transcript, as well as a worthwhile endeavor to prepare your student for the real world. This training under your care will go a long way in giving your child the confidence needed to succeed in the future.