Just the other week I was on the phone with a mother who was pouring her heart out to me about the way the public school had been allowing her child to slide by from one grade to the next because in their words, “he was doing well enough.” But teaching “well enough” was a huge red flag to this mother. She, like many parents who withdraw their children from the public schools to home school, realizes the checks, balances, and measures given to children during their formative years aid in the development of later life patterns for success or failure. The standards the public schools are teaching children in this era of diminished testing standards and the No Child Left Behind mentality are far from the diligent godly standards we should desire to form the foundation of their lives.
Rising to the Challenge
“Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Instead, as Christians, the goal we should set for ourselves and our children is to do everything to our utmost ability. We must fight to not buy into the lackadaisical ideology of our society, which is constantly lowering its standards to help more people succeed without lifting a finger or striving for greater success. Furthermore, we need to rise to the challenge of setting our children’s sights to be the most of who God has made them to be, fighting against the lie that “good enough” is an acceptable way to live, and showing them that working hard wherever God asks them to serve is their faithful worship to Him, their God and King.
This point hit home for me just the other day when my oldest son, who is a college freshman, told me the only reason he was getting all A’s as of mid-term was because my husband and I were expecting him to. His insightful comment was perfectly correct. After teaching this child for his whole grade school and high school career in our home, and knowing his heart, I knew we were not holding the bar too high. He has proven to us over and over again that he is very gifted and able to do far more than he gives himself credit.
Thankfully, home schooling has given us that advantage of knowing what he can do, what grades he can achieve when the bar is raised, and how to ultimately set his sights, not on the average score of his classmates, but rather on what he knows to be his personal best. Of course, it would be unfair to our son to ask him to get straight A’s through his college career, as I know some of the classes he will take in his coming semesters will prove to be much more challenging, but for now I am thankful he has left our home school knowing that “good enough” is not an acceptable measure of success.
Setting Appropriate Standards
But that begs the question, “What is the best way to teach children, in their formative years, how to successfully reach your home school’s standards?” The answer is basic, but a method that is not regularly followed in the home school community. The method is grading. Children learn how they are doing through grading their work with clear direction from the parent as to what is expected as a standard of success. Although Texas home school law does not require report cards or grading, we at THSC consider it a good practical approach to home schooling. That is why we now have a new THSC Member Benefit: report cards! This template not only allows our members to enter in quarterly grades for basic subjects, but it also lets them add in elective classes and give assessments based on a basic list of godly character traits.
While grading math is pretty straightforward, subjects with less empirical data, like writing, often leave parents floundering when it comes to grading. There is a method to grading even these more difficult subjects, which will not only help you as a home school parent with grading your children’s work, but will teach your children where the bar has been set for them to achieve success in each subject. This teaching and grading aid is called a grading rubric. Below I have listed some helpful links that will give you examples, the basics on how to create your own rubrics, and even rubric generators for customized rubrics.
- teAchnology: Offers a large collection of pre-made rubrics, especially for grade school subjects and activities
- Teacher Planet: Rubrics 4 Teachers: Lots of pre-made project rubrics, plus a very simple rubric building tool for making simple custom rubrics
- Project Based Learning: Checklist developer: A checklist approach to a grading rubric
- edtechteacher: Great rubrics for high school-level work including blog, video, coding, and media projects, as well as many links to other rubric development material
Giving children grades as well as setting standards for success in your home school is part of being that diligent home schooler discussed in the first blog of this series. Your children will never suffer if you take the time to do what will set them up for the greatest amount of success. We at THSC feel the same way about being diligent to do our part to keep home schooling free in Texas, which in turn allows you to achieve the greatest amount of success in your home schooling endeavors.
To that effort, THSC would like to wrap up this discussion by letting home schoolers in Texas know that giving grades to your children is all the more important if you believe that at any time in your children’s school career they may be re-enrolled in a public school or a private school. These schools have increasingly been resistant to accept home school students at the level their parents say they are studying or achieving. Instead, these school officials want to be presented with records that prove a child’s academic success and course work. Of course, each school district has its own intake procedures, but keeping grades and report cards for a child will almost always improve the ability to advocate for a child in these instances.
Next month I am going to wrap up this blog series by concentrating on high school transcripts and home school diplomas, as finishing home schooling well is a continuous diligent effort from beginning to end. We at THSC desire to help you succeed wherever you are in your home schooling journey.
Are you a member of THSC? Only members receive access to the great benefits, including the report card and diploma templates. If you’re not, please consider joining today. If you are, please take advantage of the member benefits today!
Home Schooling with Diligence Series by Peggy Ployhar
Part 1: Home Schooling with Diligence
Part 2: Resources for Home School Planning with Diligence
Part 3: How to Measure Success for Your Students
Part 4: How to Successfully Home School through High School