Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Homeschooling - Grading Work Not Required

When I began teaching my children I never even considered giving them grades. After all, I have a pretty good idea of what they know and don't know. One of the main purposes of grades are to communicate how well a child is doing in school. When the teacher and parent are different people, grades are a very valuable communication device.

In addition, to letting guardians know how their child is doing, grades also serve to rank kids among their peers. One question I have received from people not intimately familiar with homeschooling is "How do you know your children are where they are supposed to be?" This is another way of asking the ranking question.

What's important to me is not so much how my children stack up against their peers, but rather that they are happy and being challenged to their full potential. If my child couldn't read at grade level, it would be ridiculous for me to give him grade level material and a corresponding low grade. Instead of helping my child to read, giving a low grade would effectively serve to take away any possible motivation he could have to improve his reading skills. On the flip side, if my child could read way above grade level, it would be equally ridiculous for me to give him grade level work and an A+ mark. My time would be much better spent finding interesting books at an appropriate level.


To me knowing how to challenge and motivate my students by introducing appropriate materials is much more important than how the student ranks when compared with peers. Reading, writing and math are primary focus core subjects. Each school day, all three of my children are challenged with interesting materials in each of these categories at their own levels. We don't give grades and don't plan to anytime soon.

Here are other thoughts on grades.

Passing Grade - Barefoot Hippie Girl
To Grade or Not to Grade - Every Bed of Roses
School Without Grades or Tests - One Magnificent Obsession
4 Surprising Consequences of Grading - Navigating by Joy

This post is linked to:
Living and Learning at Home

9 comments:

  1. I like your reading grade example. Demonstrates your point very well!

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  2. I mostly agree - especially in finding skill-level appropriate material. Where I disagree is probably more a factor of my student then a philosophical disagreement. I have found that my slap-dash, get-it-done fast student is very motivated by grades. Getting a bad mark because of sloppy work or ignoring directions is a more powerful tool with him then repeated instructions and pleading from me. I may change my tune when my more emotional daughter gets a bit older.

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  3. I agree too. Your reading example very clearly illustrates your point. Ranking children is one of the most ridiculous and cruelest things the school system does to people. I'm very glad that many homeschooling parents understand the invalidity of grading to not impose it upon their own children.

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  4. "What's important to me is not so much how my children stack up against their peers, but rather that they are happy and being challenged to their full potential." Love, love, love this sentence!

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  5. I don't grade either although every once in a while my kids will ask for a grade so I give them one and I am tough about it so they know they earned an A but they might get a lower grade if I know they didn't try, but again it is only if they ask:)

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  6. I agree with your philosophy as well. Great point about grades being a communication device between teachers and parents. I live in Michigan and we don't have to report anything, but don't people in some states have to report grades? I could be wrong on that...

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    Replies
    1. I think some states require reporting. In Colorado, where I began homeschooling the kids had to be tested in odd grades 3rd, 5th, etc. It's good to know Michigan is lenient as we hope to be moving there again someday.

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  7. I have never given my boys grades either and yet we started a new spelling curriculum that gives "tests" on Fridays and the first question is always "What's my grade?" Followed by is that an A? A+, A-, or a b?.... It drives me bonkers. Each week I tell them it's not about the grade I just want to see which ones we might still need to work on...

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