I finished my kids’ homeschool report cards for the year. As I teach towards mastery, not allowing a child to move forward until they have grasped previous concepts, I could justify that it was fair to give all A’s. After all, they learned all of the material, right? Wrong. It is not a good idea to just give a homeschooler all A’s. They need to earn it. But how they earn it can be confusing.
At the beginning of the school year, I set up criteria that let’s the kids know what it will take to get all A’s. This list includes, allowing me to see completed work (they try to avoid this for fear that I may make them do something over). Asking questions when they don’t understand something, and producing work on deadlines is also on the list. Taking initiative in projects and going beyond what is required in the textbook will also earn the child an A. If the child does not cooperate with the set items necessary to get an A, even if they appear to have mastered the material, they have only earned a B. This may seem rigid, but teachers they encounter in college will only give A’s to extraordinary students. They need to understand what it takes to get this score.
Let’s take a look at what letter grades mean. A C means the child has done average work. A B grade means the child has done good work. An A means the child has done exceptional work. Exceptional work is not done by just memorizing material, but by also utilizing it and presenting it back to the teacher confidently and creatively.
If you ever received an employee review from your boss, you can make a simple parallel. Empolyees are generally rated as Does not Meet Expectations, Meets Expectation, and Exceeds Expectations. Exceeds Expectations is akin to an A+ and they are not handed out lightly. You really have to excel and show initiative. Similar effort should be required for a A in a homeschooling subject. I didn’t have to hand out any C’s this year because the kids understood and executed for the most part what was requested of an A or B student.
With that said, I did reward my homeschooled kids with a few A’s. They knew the material and were not shy about presenting it back in projects that showed understanding of the subject matter. They also got B’s in subjects where I had to constantly ask for the completed work and nag them to do it. It didn’t matter if they knew the material or not. They need to do it without me directing them as I won’t be there to guide them in college.