Do you have a process for checking your child’s work? Without one, you’ll find that the quality of work your child does quickly decreases and that they may not be learning as much as you thought. It is easy to assume that if a child isn’t asking for help that they are understanding what they are working on. It would be lovely if it worked that way but in all my years of classroom teaching and my experience as a tutor and homeschool mom says drastically differently. Most children will plod along happily answering incorrectly either out of misunderstanding or sometimes just to get it done.
So, what is your plan for grading? You have young elementary age kids so you don’t grade? I would ask you to reconsider Yes, even with elementary age children as young as kindergarten. If there is independent work – and there should be – there needs to be accountability and grading provides that accountability to excellence in both answer and form.
Need a place to start? Sure I’m happy to share. I’ve done grading in several different ways – at the end of the week, at the end of each day and for the first time ever this year, I’m doing it as they finish each subject.
Doing it at the end of the week reminded me of my time in the public school classroom. I would sit down sometime on Saturday or Sunday with a giant pile of work and I would go through it page by page marking missed answers and making mental notes about what we needed to revisit. I also would take this time to put together our portfolio for the end of the year because I figured I might as well keep up with that and save myself stress later. This worked for a bit but then one weekend we were busy and I didn’t get to the pile. Then on Monday, I was left wondering if he was ready to move on. Then one weekend became two and two became three and the next thing I knew he was doing sloppy week and I had a mountain of grading to do.
Grading at the end of the day was similar to the end of the week for me. Since I prefer to spend every possible minute when my husband is home playing and working as a family I would try to wait until everyone went to bed to do any grading. Not only did this leave piles, papers and notebooks everywhere until I got to them creating visual clutter – my anxiety increases just thinking about the piles again – but it also meant that I was up grading near midnight regularly. Anyone want to guess how motivated I was to start grading at 11:30? Yeah . . . not one bit. I’d fight myself to get it done disliking every single minute.
At the very end of last school year, I started grading after each subject anyone completed. When I first came up with the idea, it overwhelmed me. So for that mom who is scared out of her mind at this thought or thinks I’m absolutely nuts that there is no way any one person has time to do this – I’ve been there. I’ve been you. And I’m here to say that it has had some serious advantages so you might just want to hear me out.
Advantage 1: No piles of work waiting to be graded. Read things stay put away and not all over your house.
Advantage 2: It takes seconds, yes, seconds to do. Whenever someone finishes something, they bring it to me and with them sitting there I quickly go over it. This leads us to . . .
Advantage 3: If something is unclear, completed in a sloppy way or incorrect because of a silly error, the child is there to explain or fix the problem. No more waiting until tomorrow, if ever, to have them go back and fix their less than “Oreo work”. Clueless about what I mean by Oreo work? Take a minute and check out Oreo work here.
Advantage 4: If something needs retaught, we can do it right away. No time is better than the present. We can sit together, clear up confusion and get the work completed properly.
You may be thinking, “So Kandis, this all sounds great if you have only one child but I’m homeschooling a house full. Someone would need me all the time.” Let me tell you Mama, with three homeschool boys, a toddler, a part-time job in ministry and a house to care for – I feel you, but I also know this works and it has been worth every interruption. The boys have learned to wait, to help one another, to take turns, to do their best work the first time so that they don’t have to go back to redo it and to ask when they are confused before they manage to convince themselves they know what they are doing when they have no idea. The interruptions are worth it. We are all learning better, remembering easier and enjoying the process more than ever before. That is how we keep it smart. That is how we keep it simple. That is how we homeschool.