Grading in homeschooling is done by the teacher, just like it is in public school. The difference is that in homeschooling, this is usually a parent. This is where it becomes tricky – it can be a little difficult to grade your own child. There is often no benchmark against which you can evaluate your child’s performance. In most cases, you also have little or no awareness of how well other children are doing in the subject. Obviously the traditional method of grading is perhaps not the best method to follow.
In my opinion, when assessing a homeschooled child (any child, for that matter), it is more important to assess whether the child has actually understood the subject that is being taught rather than using a grade on a test to determine their level of knowledge. Let me be honest – when I was going to school, I was an expert at memorizing facts for a test and then forgetting them as soon as the test was over.
This is one of the great things about homeschooling, right? If your child has not understood something, you will go over it again! This will work in your child’s favor in 2 ways.
- Your child knows that if he or she fails to understand, the topic will be repeated till until they get it!
- Your child also knows that once the topic has been mastered, he or she will get full credit for his hard work.
Don’t we all like to get full credit when we do something great? Getting full reward for the hard work put in is a great motivational factor, especially for kids.
It can be difficult not to get emotional when assessing your own child. You love them…and you may be tired of doing algebra with them! Ha! Don’t give in to the cries and tears of your child if he or she resists certain topics or subjects – be tough. Some things they will love and some things they won’t – they will still need to learn them! It can also be hard on you as the teacher when have to go over the topic over and over and over… You’re going to have to adjust your attitude on this as well. Remember that when teaching harder concepts, the child
may WILL get restless and may WILL get frustrated or belligerent. That is just part of it – take a break if you need to. Go for a walk with the kids or take a snack break. You’ll get through it!
Some states require yearly tests, and this may help you to judge your child’s ability compared to his/her peers.
Even if it is not mandatory, you may still want to test your child every year. These tests may help reveal the variations in your child’s learning pattern. Unexpected areas of strength and areas of weakness may be revealed. This may help to structure your teaching to cover the areas that are weak, and build upon the areas that are strong.
There are several websites that deal with the various age groups, and allow free downloading of questions and tests. This is an excellent and cost-effective method to assess your child on a wide variety of topics. One thing I like to do when we are starting a subject is a “pretest” – simply hand your child the test, ask them to fill out what they know, and then grade them – you can do this privately, not in front of them! See what they know and don’t know about a subject. Tailor your lesson plans to their strengths and weaknesses and then give them the SAME test when you are done! Reassess and see what (or IF) they learned anything!
The main goal of my homeschooling method is to foster my children’s natural curiosity. If they are curious and are moving forward, then the actual understanding of concepts will always move them forward!
We just have to get through algebra.