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Homeschooling: What About Grades and Curriculum?

Homeschooling Expert Advice from Isabel Shaw

Q: My son is three-and-a-half. We intend to homeschool him once he reaches kindergarten age. He is already reading and doing simple math. We are debating whether to go with a curriculum-based program where an independent firm grades my child's tests, or whether I should write the curriculum myself and do all the grading. I worry that if I do the teaching and grading myself that I will miss teaching him something that he should know, or that when he applies to college he will not have any "outside" grading of his work. The college will say, "Of course he did well and got A's — Mommy graded him."

What has worked for you? Do you do it all or do you buy curriculum and let homeschooling businesses grade your child?

A: Sounds to me like you are enthusiastic and have a bright little boy! You will do well homeschooling him! First, though, you have to slow down a bit. You really don't have to worry about grades and scores for several years, at least. I would also skip a curriculum at this point — it simply is not necessary. Have you read any homeschooling books? John Holt has some wonderful books that would really help you on your journey: Teach Your Own, or How Children Learn would be good starters. For the next few years, I would just make lots of trips to the library, and read, read, read! (Together, of course!) Expose him to lots of new adventures, and let him lead the way. A "curriculum expert" does not know your child like you do. Why would you let this "expert" dictate what your son should learn? You are the expert! Homeschooling is really about learning in freedom. Give him that gift. Trust that he's learned remarkably well up to now. Go with it and see what happens! When he gets to the high-school level he might need tests and grades for college, but for now, enjoy every day and just learn together. Good luck!

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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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