For the first time in my homeschooling life, grades have become a big deal here in the Hill House. I will be very honest and say that as a young, inexperienced homeschool mama, I thought it ridiculous and completely unnecessary to have grades in homeschool.
I’m with my children all day long and I see exactly what they’re doing, so why in the world would I need to grade them, for crying out loud?
Ah. These words would have been said by my homeschooling mama self when my oldest was only in 2nd or 3rd grade. Little did I know how grades would help our homeschool in these later elementary and middle school years.
How We Got into Giving Grades
As you might can tell, I was quite resistant in giving grades to my children. I went into this process with a moderate amount of kicking and screaming. 😉
I was a bit caught up in the ‘homeschooling ought to be enjoyable and my kids should love it and this is not a traditional classroom and it should never be!’ mindset.
But I have to tell you how thinking back on that mentality makes me laugh and cry and cringe all at the same time because OH MY if you could see our homeschool now!
We have a set time for specific classes.
We have daily graded work.
I’m strict about our school start time.
Clearly, I’ve had a pretty drastic change in mindset in our homeschool, and with that came the dispensing of grades.
As we made our way to upper elementary and started middle school, I saw that my older children needed a gauge. Mere words – “Great job!” – were not cutting it any longer. They needed a tangible, definitive grade on the work they completed.
Those grades helped them see the correlation between their hard work and the grade they received. It helped them see that some subjects come easy without much work, and others require focused attention.
I realized that grades were an incredible motivator to put forth the extra effort and do their best work.
I tried grades for awhile, saw the wonderful fruit, and we haven’t looked back.
Our Homeschool Grading System
While searching for a more streamlined way to keep track of grades, I came across this free gradebook from Joy at Fivejs.
It is truly amazing.
Joy’s directions are very clear and easy to customize for each child, even if you aren’t spreadsheet savvy.
Here’s my process for grading my children’s work:
- Each week, I make both of my older girls a daily work list. I highlight any quizzes or tests, to make sure they aren’t forgotten by mama or child. 😉 I keep the original copy and make a photocopy for each girl.
- As assignments are completed throughout the week, I write the grade in red pen and a circle so it’s easy for my eye to spot.
- Every week or two, I enter the grades in my spreadsheet from Fivejs and it automatically calculates the current average.
And that’s it! It’s a pretty simple process once you get the spreadsheet set up as needed.
→ I originally started giving grades in only math, English, and Latin, beginning in 4th grade. Because we moved to Memoria Press this year, grades now look different in our homeschool. Memoria Press requires mastery (not just exposure) to particular topics, and with that come quizzes and tests. Many quizzes are oral, while some are written.
As a result of this mastery learning, my older girls are now tested in almost every subject. It’s worked out extremely well, by the way. (I was very apprehensive when we started this very new-to-us type of learning!)
Mastery versus exposure learning is a post for another day. 🙂
→ My 2nd grader receives grades only on her spelling tests each week. She is still at elbow for everything, and I have no need to give her grades at the present.
→ My 4th grader needs to see how she does on her daily work, so I grade and record all of her daily Latin, math, spelling, English, science, and history work.
→ Yes, I even grade what they’re learning during our Bible time. In the past, our morning Bible time has been very loose – just reading Scripture and discussing. While there was retention and exposure to Bible accounts, I didn’t require a whole ton of memorization. My kids were memorizing numerous Bible verses in Awanas, and I didn’t see a need to add more of that at the time.
This year, however, we’re using Christian Studies I from Memoria Press. Up until Christmas, we were only doing the lessons orally. Now, I’m requiring a weekly oral quiz on the Bible verse and the Unit Tests. My girls have aced them. I couldn’t be more shocked! They will all tell you that Bible time is usually their favorite and the tests aren’t burdensome because they know all of the answers. The grades on their tests show them how much knowledge they have about the Bible, and they feel so proud of themselves.
Of course Biblical head knowledge doesn’t transfer to heart knowledge, as only the Holy Spirit can work on the heart. It’s my job as their mama to teach them the Word of the Lord and how it applies to their lives – Deuteronomy 6:4-8. Giving grades in Bible class has only added to that in a positive way!
→ I don’t believe that every child needs grades, but I do believe that my children work more efficiently and with a different level of intensity when they know grades will be given.
So tell me about grades in your homeschool. Do you give grades? If you do, what helped you make the decision to give grades? If you don’t give grades, how do you measure your children’s work? What are your thoughts about giving grades in a homeschool setting?
I just started giving actual grades in classes this year (7th grade). I have graded some things for a while (spelling tests, math work), but never calculated an actual grade for a class until this year. I need to check out this spreadsheet for some help! I know that actual grades will be helpful for high school.
Yes, go download Joy’s spreadsheet! It is a bit of a learning curve, but she gives great instructions. It makes it so much easier for me to deal with grades now that I’ve taken the plunge. 🙂
We are easing into the concept of grades. I’ve never seen the point, I do a periodic progress report for my records and my state doesn’t require anything. My now 4th grader starts to freak out if he thinks there is going to be any type of evaluation to his efforts. When he freaks out, he tends to freeze and complete nothing. Complete brain shut down. But… I know that grades are going to have to come into our life soon, so I’m trying to ease him into it. Teaching Textbooks has helped introduce the concept because it grades automatically. Now to convince him that a B isn’t the end of the world and does not make him a complete failure.
Yes, grades are inevitable it seems. 🙂 I had no concept of that, however, when I was just starting out homeschooling. It wasn’t anywhere close to being on my radar.
My son was also in the 4th grade when grades started to appear in baby steps.
Best wishes as you get it sorted out!