Mom-to-Mom Support/Grading My Children’s Work

Grading My Children’s Work

For many parents, knowing how to grade their children’s work can be a major concern. How do you know if your child is truly learning? Are you properly evaluating your child’s progress? 

There’s a lot to consider—including whether or not you plan to assign grades and, if so, whether you plan to enroll in a home study program that offers grading services. Here’s what to think about as you’re weighing your options and establishing your grading policies and practices.

Mastering the content is more important than grades

Before diving into grading options and best practices, keep in mind that many homeschoolers don’t assign formal grades. This helps students stay focused on the joy of learning for its own sake, instead of simply studying to achieve a letter grade. If a parent can tell from a student’s daily work that he’s mastered 70% to 80% of the content, then praise and a small celebration may be more encouraging than seeing a letter grade scrawled across his test or paper.

On the other hand, if he didn’t master the content, what is the purpose of giving a low grade? Re-teaching the content makes more sense. And because there’s no low grade hanging over your child’s head, he’ll likely approach the content more positively. 

The drawbacks of grading services

Grading services make it difficult to tailor the curriculum

Families who do want to have grades assigned to their children’s work often enroll in home study programs that offer grading services. However, in order to use these services, you must use the assignments and tests provided by the home study program. This reduces the parent’s ability to tailor the curriculum into a “perfect fit” for the individual child—a major drawback for many homeschool families. How can you adapt the assignments to meet the unique needs of your child if they are predetermined by an outside organization?

Children do better with immediate feedback

Whether one assigns grades or not, it’s important to correct students’ daily work. Some grading services correct daily work, while others only grade quarterly tests and other periodic assignments. 

If the grading service corrects daily work, you will want to keep in mind an additional drawback. Grading services can’t offer the same level of immediate feedback as a parent, so delegating the task of correcting daily work robs a child of immediate feedback, a key benefit of homeschooling. While waiting for a grading service to return the grades, your child may continue to fall behind in weaker areas or suffer boredom by having to complete additional assignments on topics he’s already mastered.  

Immediate feedback is especially helpful for young students, who tend to have short memories. Praise for a job well done is more meaningful if the student still remembers the effort he put into completing an assignment. And if a pattern of incorrect answers on a worksheet shows he misunderstands a concept, it’s much better to correct that misunderstanding immediately so he isn’t carrying it forward into future lessons. 

Grading services require unnecessary work

On the other hand, if the grading service only grades quarterly tests, the parent not only has to correct the student’s daily work but must also calculate scores on that daily work so it can be reported to the grading service. This is an unnecessary burden, especially if your state doesn’t require grades in the elementary and middle school years. (Few states require letter grades, but you can check your state’s requirements at

Record keeping with portfolios

Some homeschoolers think it’s necessary to assign grades in order to create a permanent record of work. This is true in the high school years—you’ll need letter grades to compile your high schooler’s transcript. (See High School of Your Dreams Guidebook for detailed guidance for homeschooling through high school, including a transcript template.) But if your state doesn’t require letter grades in the elementary and middle school years—and hardly any do—there are better, simpler ways to keep records. We recommend creating a portfolio of “best work” for each school year. Portfolios should include:

  • Typical course of study, included in CHC Lesson Plans for each grade
  • Achievement record, included in CHC Lesson Plans for each grade
  • Examples of your child’s best work, for example, writing assignments, spelling tests, worksheets, and/or projects for subjects like math, grammar, science, history, and religion
  • Photos and short descriptions of major science, history, and literature projects
  • Photos of special achievements—First Communion, theater performances, awards, certificates, or anything else that shows your child’s achievements and experiences 
  • Attendance records if your state requires them—attendance can easily be recorded in the CHC Lesson Plans for each grade. 

A homeschool portfolio is especially useful if your state requires periodic evaluation. Again, you can check your state’s requirements at

Once complete, your child’s portfolio also doubles as a memento or scrapbook, which is much more meaningful than a simple letter grade. Consider adding photos of field trips, tickets or programs from performances, and other mementos to remember the school year. 

One last piece of advice: don’t wait until the end of the year to compile your child’s portfolio. Collect samples of best work and put them in a box or file throughout the year—ideally, look at student work each quarter and choose samples for his portfolio. If you’re a scrapbooker, you can collect them and put them into a scrapbook or 3-ring binder. Or you can simply store them in a file folder or box for three years, just in case they are ever needed for legal reasons.

Grading in high school

It’s no surprise that grading is more important in high school—but that doesn’t mean you have to grade each assignment. You can simply assign a grade at the end of the year that you think best reflects what your student learned. These grades will appear on your child’s final transcript—the transcript submitted as part of his college application. 

Here’s a simple chart for letter grades: 

90%-100% mastery of the material = A

80%-90% mastery = B

70%-80% mastery = C

60%-70% mastery = D

60% mastery and below = F

If you wonder how you can assign a grade without grading each assignment and calculating scores, you may wish to read this article by Sandra Garant. The author, a certified teacher, veteran homeschooler, and attorney, explains that “those of us who did not grade our children in high school found proof of our children’s learning in their conversations and in their projects.” She concludes, “Please do not feel overwhelmed by grading. Veteran teachers will tell you that there is no one right way to grade.”

Moving ahead

We are sometimes asked if CHC offers grading services or record keeping. The answer is no. We believe that in most cases, it is better for the parent to be in charge of correcting daily work so that the child gets immediate feedback. Letter grades in themselves are unnecessary before high school, and assigning them often creates an attitude of studying for a grade, instead of learning for its own sake. 

That said, no two homeschools are the same; and what works for one family may not work for another. Consider your students, your goals, and your teaching style. From there, decide what works best for you and your unique learners.

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