Grading and Testing

Is it necessary for you to test and grade your kids?

Short Answers

Testing kids—It depends. At some point, kids need to learn HOW to take a test.

Grading kids—It depends. High school students will need grades for a transcript.

For a more nuanced answer, let’s consider what homeschooling allows you to do—the approach that highly paid tutors can use as they work with students.

Benefits of Homeschooling—Testing

  • You can have open-ended, informal chats with your kids about what they just learned in history, in science, in math, in language arts—whatever they are studying. As you listen to them, invite them to share what they enjoyed, what they found interesting, what was confusing, and whether they are finding it difficult to remember what they just studied (which can be a clue that the curriculum you’re using isn’t connecting with your learner).
  • Because this is informal, you don’t have to pressure your kids. If they feel safe in sharing what they really think, you will discover far more about what they have REALLY learned than any test will show. (To create a safe environment for this kind of informal sharing, be careful of the words you use, the facial expressions you show, and the attitudes you display. If they sense that you disapprove of them, they will shut down or hide what they are thinking. This is NOT the Inquisition!)
  • When you decide that it is time for your students to learn HOW to take a test, make a game out of it. Help them understand that some tests are written in such a way as to “trick” students who aren’t paying attention. As you teach them the skill of test-taking—carefully reading each question, carefully looking at the type of answer expected, and checking their work to make sure they fulfilled what was required—make it an adventure! Tests don’t have to be something to dread if kids are prepared.
  • And, as homeschoolers, you can look at tests as a helpful report for you, and an opportunity to make some improvements.If Jimmy didn’t do so well in math, then take a look at what he struggled with and find some creative ways to help him learn that topic. If Carrie didn’t do well in language comprehension, consider how you might bring new ways of introducing vocabulary and critical thinking skills to her (and to all of your kids). They did not fail, they just haven’t had a chance to learn it thoroughly yet!!

Benefits of Homeschooling—Grading

  • You have optional ways of grading your kids (when they need grades). You can use “rubrics”—an objective, specific, and fair way to evaluate their work. Take four minutes to watch the “Why Do Great Teachers Use Rubrics?” video explaining how this works. This tool allows your students to know ahead of time how they will be evaluated and what criteria will be used, so they can all succeed!
  • You can use tests that show what your children KNOW, not what they DON’T know. This kind of test offers students different choices, so they can choose to write about what they have learned. Having choices allows for different kinds of interests, different kinds of learners.

  • And, you can use different testing methods—auditory, written, visual recognition, and creative approaches to answering questions (music, art, drama, dance, and more).

Remember, stay relational!