How do you determine grades in your homeschool? This is a question that I have been asked both by families who do not homeschool and other homeschooling families. It's also one of those questions that, if you are homeschooling, there really is no right or wrong answer to. What works for my family may not work for yours, but I will address how I handle "grading" in my homeschool.
I actually do not do grades or tests at all until High School. Why? I don't really see the purpose of testing or assigning grades in the younger years. Our state does not require us to document grades. I do not test my younger children because the majority of our work is completed altogether. The purpose of testing is to determine if a child has mastered a subject area. When we are working together, I know if the children do or do not understand what we are doing and I address that as we go along. In subjects that they do on their own (like Math and Latin) their daily work shows me what they have mastered and what they need to continue working on so there is no need to take tests.
When my oldest started High School, we had to start keeping track of her grades for her High School Transcripts. The idea of giving grades honestly was kind of scary at first because I want her transcripts to be as honest and accurate as possible but also don't want to get caught up in the importance of one particular "grade." Does that make sense? I didn't want Chelsea's focus to be on memorizing answers for the sake of getting a good grade on a test. I want her to do the work and learn the material for the purpose of increasing her knowledge. What I discovered is that many homeschool high school curricula give suggestions for grading their course. Sometimes I follow the suggestions, and sometimes I don't, but it is nice to have a guideline to follow especially when a course may not be easy to assign a grade to, like Art for example (I did follow the guidelines from Artistic Pursuits on that one.) I do not grade day to day assignments although we do keep all of them. I do grade tests, papers, and labs and use those scores to create a final grade for the course and enter those onto her transcripts. For me, grading papers is harder than grading tests, but I also follow the guidelines for grading papers that were included with out literature/writing curriculum.
So while I think that at times assigning grades is necessary, it is not that important in the grand scheme of things. To me, it is more important to create a love of learning atmosphere and keep the focus on that then how many A.B, or C's we have earned that year.