Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Grades in Homeschool

I have been reading a lot on the impact of grades in the book The Schools our Children Deserve by Alfie Kohn, which of course has me thinking about how that plays out in a Homeschooling setting. So.....

  1. Do you grade your Homeschoolers?
  2. If so what age(s) are they?
  3. Are you required to do so by law, or for your own records?
  4. Do you share the grades with your children?
According to Kohn and research he has done, grades actually make a negative impact on learning and motivation. Instead of grades being a positive motivating factor, students concerned with how something will be scored are less concerned with what they are learning.

Research in 2 groups of students found that the group that was told they would be graded on the project actually did worse when tested, than the group that was told they needed to complete the assignment, but that it wasn't going to be graded. Interesting!

As an ex-public school teacher I can totally relate to this! There wasn't a lecture/presentation/project that I didn't at least one student ask, "Will this be on the test?"

And do I blame them? NO WAY? If the goal it to have a high grade point average, than finding out the requirements for getting that glorious "A" (even down to the questions on a test) would be important to know! That would make some information more important than others purely for a grade, not necessarily for the sake of learning.

I've been trying to process this as both a teacher, a Homeschooler and a learner myself. In school I taught Art, a very subjective subject (if you will). Though I tried very hard to make effort and not talent the basis for my grading, it was still very difficult!

Now that I am free of those responsibilities I have enjoyed not grading my own kids. We learn and practice learning. If there are mistakes, they are discussed and explained right on the spot, but there is no BIG RED X's and words scribbled on the top of the page. (honestly I've got no time for that folks!)  And it's refreshing. My children don't have the experience of someone telling them they didn't perform something "100% perfectly". They are able to practice mastery at a comfortable level, and re-practice when there is room for that.

DO traditional grades have a place in a Homeschool setting? Do you think grades have a positive effect on learning and students?


  1. Stopping by on the Hip Homeschool Hop from Homeschool Science Press. Mine are too little for grades yet, but this is great food for thought.

    New follower!

  2. My daughter is to young for me to grade her papers...personally I'm not sure I will grade them when she does get a bit older. Right now we just look over her work and if there are corrections I circle what needs to be corrected and then she will just correct it. I think they can be negative if not used correctly. You've got some great thoughts on this. Stopping by from HHH

  3. My kids are too young as well, but I can't see myself grading any of their work. I think that would be one of the benefits of home schooling, that you could work on the "correcting" together, so that they actually learn what was right. I remember so many times in school getting things wrong on a test or assignment, and I never did find out the right answer! Not very constructive. Perhaps grading will be more appropriate for high school, but I'll figure that out when I get there...

  4. We do grades in high school. However, my little guy likes to see grades on his papers so I do it for him, but I don't record it anywhere.