In just a few days, we will have reached our halfway point for our school year. I can’t believe we have been doing school for 18 weeks now. Must be because I enjoy teaching school much more then doing school.
With the close of our semester, I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about grades. In my day, elementary schools used a grading system that wasn’t the usual A, B, C, D, and F grades. Instead they used “meets expectations”, “exceeds expectations”, and “needs improvement”. I assume this is a nicer, more broad way of doing grades because in the early grades it’s more about getting the basics down than remembering what year Chris Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
I was about to do my kids’ grades this semester (and I realize that it’s not really important for Kindergarten but hey, I like things like grades. Call me crazy.) I started thinking about the grading system for Kindergarten. As I said, in my day it was about “expectations” maybe they have changed the grading system since then. If a child learned what they were expected to they met expectations, if they didn’t then they needed improvement and some how a child could exceed expectations although I still don’t fully understand how that one can be obvious in something like math but whatever, that’s not what this post is about.
As a homeschooling family, however, there is no “needs improvement” because we do the lesson until it’s mastered. I know the areas that my child is struggling in on a day to day basis and so I can work with him in order for him to learn the lesson. At the end of the year, he will have mastered all that is required in his grade level and we will continue on. There also really isn’t an “exceeds expectations” because if I see that my child is doing his math with flying colors then we simply increase the difficulty. We don’t need to wait until next school year; we advance as we need to.
Now I’m not about to forgo grading my children at all. As I said, I like grades. I think it’s important to have grades (particularly for middle and high school) so that others can see where your child is at academic wise. However, I found the standard expectations to be an interesting thing when applied to homeschoolers. They just don’t really exist. I mean they do, I do expect my son to learn such and such by the end of the year but there’s no sizing up his academic learning.
It would not make sense for me to say my son exceeds my expectations because my expectations are based on his own abilities. Neither would it be logical to say that my son did not meet my expectations because I work with him until they are met. Therefore my son would meet all my expectations. This of course, only works with younger grades as it’s all about mastery. They either know how to read or they don’t. Once you get into upper level grades things get more specific and then I feel like grades make sense. Till then however, my children “meet my expectations.”