So Here it is, January, mid school year and time for us to record semester one grades. I have to confess, even though I am confident in the education that my children are getting, I have a moment of doubt when it comes time to record grades. After all I am a busy mom, I work 2 days outside of the home and I also help to run our business from home. I have a one year old who is sill quite attached to me; a 2 year old and a 5 year old who both require lots of my attention and constant activity; and a 7 year old girl who is such a big help but still needs much guidance and training. Then I have 3 teenagers, high schoolers. I spend so much of my time reading to and teaching little ones, that I doubt, for a moment, that my high schoolers have gotten what they need.
Besides that as a homeschooler our "school" does not have to be founded on grades, these are my children. For most subjects, we go over or they go over, what ever material is at hand until it is understood. We don't move on until it is mastered, it's as simple as that, it's an "A" or we aren't done.
In a typical school setting where there are 30 students to a class room, one year with each teacher to accomplish said subject, and all subjects compartmentalized. Yes, a grading system would be needed to try to "chart" how much of said subject was internalized by each student that year.
But we as homeschoolers are not limited in that way. When I hear my children discussing "the British perspective of the Revolutionary War vs. the "American" perspective"... Then I know they "got it". That would mean the material was mastered and that, my friend, deserves an "A".
So now here I am, mid year to record my children's grades. I go subject by subject that I have put before them at the beginning of the year to complete. I have trained up my high schoolers to be independent. I stay mostly hands off, only to check final reports I have assigned, and I commonly discuss with them what they are doing just to check that they are still on track with their "school," after all, their school is still my responsibility. I allow them to chart their own course in high school but they know the boundaries and what is expected. If they get off track, I am there to guide them back.
So I get to each subject, some of them they do on the computer, I check their progress, remind them where they need to be by the end of the year, we make a new plan for completion if needed, then move on.
I get to English... What have they done for English? I can't even think, have they done anything?
I had a teacher in high school who, at grading time, would call me up to his desk. "What should I give you an A or a B?" This was so crazy to me, did he not know my grade? Did I really have a choice? I would then have a discussion with him that would end up with me reminding him of all I learned and accomplished in his class. Everyone did not pass his class so I know our grades were not only based on that discussion, but looking back, how brilliant, to remind the student of all they had learned by getting them to regurgitate it back, or was this not unlike our family discussions around the dinner table and me being able to see that they "got it".
So I call each child to me, first Mason, a senior this year, "What have you been doing in English?" He reminds me he is writing a novel. Of course! He is using the book "Learn to Write the Novel Way" by Carole Thaxton. He references it and uses it to get his writing juices flowing. He is always discussing his ideas with his dad, his brother, and me. He shows me his progress, I have to say, I am impressed. We discuss plans to complete it by the end of the school year and I happily mark down "A".
Now Ethan, a junior this year, ... oh my what has he done? So I call him to me, "What have you been doing for English?" He says "Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction"... at first I'm about to blow that off as a joke, it's a book by Jason Austin, using office supplies to make fun little gadgets like catapults, sling shots, ect. Then he says, "No really, I've read it like 3 times." Then I start thinking, he had "OKed" a project with me concerning this book, I just didn't think of it as English. But he is making "how-to" demos on YouTube. He writes and creates dialog, he does research and creates video media, not to mention the computer skills, mathematical and scientific applications. Oh yeah, he gets an "A"! We discussed what I would like to see by the end of the year to include more writing, and I continue on with my grading.
By the way, we are always reading and discussing novels and Scripture around here, so I know that we have that covered, in their English I am looking for more writing.
Now Ethan is very hands on, he would much rather be reading a manual than a story. Twice in the past few weeks I have heard the quote "Find what you love and you will never work a day in your life." I do believe, that is what both of my boys have found this year in English, so much so that I didn't even see it as work until they showed me. To me, this is a dream come true, for my children to love to learn. For them to be finding their strengths and building on them. Now, again, I have no doubts. And I LOVE homeschooling!
It is my hope that this will be an inspiration to you in your home.