For my first several years of homeschooling I did not keep track of my kids’ grades. I corrected their work and made them fix their mistakes but did not maintain a grade book. I had a general idea of where they were at and what they needed to improve, so it seemed like more work for me.
About 5 years ago, I decided to prepare report cards for a number of reasons. My homeschool evaluator encouraged me to. I wanted to confirm my assumptions about their progress. Finally, my kids were wanting to win a prize at the dentist office based on their report cards. What I did not realize was the incredibly positive effect the report cards would have on our homeschool.
The first thing I did was purchase a grade book. Here is a link to the one that I use.
Quarterly (every 9 weeks for a 36 week school year), I average the grades and prepare the report cards. Simple enough!
THEN I had an inspiration from the Holy Spirit. I decided to add a comment section to the report card where I would make remarks on progress, what things they needed to do to improve, and general comments on them as people. I also used the comment section to address behavior issues. Here are some samples:
The Musician is doing an amazing job this year! She works so hard on completing her work with speed and accuracy. She has incredible focus. She continues to excel at writing, Latin, and grammar. She remembers rules that even the teacher needs to look up and is an excellent resource for her younger brothers. She has turned a corner with Math and Science and is doing a great job in both. She continues to make incredible progress with her music and practices diligently. Finally, anytime she is asked to do something to help out with her younger siblings or around the house, she does so without complaint or attitude. She is growing into a very mature young woman.
The Musician can continue to check over her work for mistakes. She has improved significantly in this area but an extra five minutes in review can make all the difference.
The Musician is an incredible student, loving daughter and sister, wonderful baker, amazing sewer, and faithful servant! We could not be more proud of the young woman she is becoming!
Here is an example from my oldest son, The Capitalist:
The Capitalist has done a great job this quarter. He has an incredible work load but has risen to the occasion. He loves science and drawing. He has beautiful handwriting. He has excellent memorization skills. His composition writing continues to improve as he uses dress-ups, stylistic techniques, and vocabulary words. He has become an amazing cellist. He is learning to play with expression and musicality. He is a joy to listen to!
The Capitalist can continue to improve by checking over his work and asking for help when needed. This would raise his B’s to A’s. His most challenging subject continues to be spelling. He can improve this grade by checking over his work more than once and remembering the spelling rules. The Capitalist can also work on staying focused, especially in the morning when he seems to be daydreaming. He also must get downstairs earlier. This seems to be the difference between getting done early in the afternoon or after dinner.
The Capitalist is such a great kid! He is reverent, diligent, and funny. He has a great attitude and works hard. He makes us proud!
Finally, an example from our youngest son, The Laid Back One:
The Laid Back One is doing a great job this first quarter of second grade. He works hard and completes his assignments quickly. He is an excellent reader. He excels at math. He loves science. In his free time, he has been reading lots of non-fiction books on animals, space, insects, etc. It is impressive how he devours these books and retains the information he is reading. He is progressing rapidly with his violin and has worked hard to improve his technique and posture. The Laid Back One is a huge help in entertaining his little sister by creating games that she enjoys playing.
As usual, The Laid Back One needs to work on his handwriting. This is the one subject that he continues to struggle with. He is capable of neat and legible handwriting when he takes his time. Oftentimes, he scribbles his work so quickly that it looks more like a chicken did his work than he did. He must take more time on his handwriting if he is going to start learning cursive. He can also remember not to do things that annoy his siblings. Sometimes he gets carried away with his silliness. His older siblings have a lot of work to do each day. They could get it done more quickly if they were not distracted. Finally, getting down early in the morning is paramount to anyone’s success. The Laid Back One can continue to work on this!
The Laid Back One is a joy to have around. He has a great attitude, is always singing, and brings joy to our classroom. We are so proud of him!
Here is the key to making the report cards work…..
THE PRINCIPAL, AKA DAD, MUST DELIVER THEM!
First, it gets Dad more involved in your homeschool. Second, you know how the kids are doing. They generally know how they are doing. Finally, they know you know how they are doing. Dad, however, may not know any of this! So if you get Dad to deliver them, everyone will be on the same page. Plus, if there is a behavior issue that needs to be addressed, Dad can talk about it with them, instead of you having to do it over and over again. My husband sits each child down, reads over the report card, and makes various comments about what I have to say.
So after our first round of report cards, I noticed a few things. Everyone LOVED getting them! They were so excited to see how they are doing and what comments I had made about them. Behavior started changing. Kids were getting downstairs earlier. There was not as much attitude. I even had kids setting goals for themselves so they could improve their grades. It was such a positive experience for them (and me)! I was in shock that simply presenting their grades and a few comments could have such a profound effect. Report cards were worth the extra time and energy it took for me to keep track of the grades and prepare them.
I pray that report cards will be as successful for you, as it has been for our family. Do you have any “report card” advice to share?