How does a homeschooler “end” the school year?
Traditional schools have a “last day” scheduled on the calendar even before the school year begins. They know exactly how many days are left at all times. When you homeschool, things are quite different but that’s the beauty of it – we aren’t tied to the calendar. We can school on Saturdays and through snow days. If we want to be done at the end of April, then we set that goal and truly be done by May 1st!
We did exactly that. We wrapped up 4th grade at the end of April and now my son is off enjoying a well earned summer break and furiously creating videos, tutorials, and animation projects for his YouTube channel. (Check it out if you have time – he amazes me)
I had a few more things to do before I could call my year “done”. Every teacher has those last few days to wrap up; to submit grades and recommendations for the students. Someone has to report their progress throughout the year. Traditional schools have guidelines for this, but as homeschoolers we [sort of] make the rules up as we go… So how do you give an accurate report on that?
There’s no way for me to grade my son’s achievements on an A-F grading scale.
He’s a square peg – those are round holes, and he fits into none of them.
So we throw out the idea of grades completely and, along with my attendance record, I submit a written evaluation that is broken down by subject.
I track progress and make notes throughout the school year so my end of the year evaluation and paperwork is quite a bit easier and much less stressful. That may not work for everyone, but it has definitely taken a huge weight off my shoulders this year. I use a very simple format I hope you will find useful for those struggling with questions and uncertainties.
- Page 1: A simple list of subjects we covered and my plan for our next step
- Page 2: I note the materials and workbooks we used
- Page 3 and on: I list the subject header and then write a bit about what we accomplished
I keep it simple. In some subjects I include a list, his reading list for the year; some subjects I include samples of his work, a few choice paragraphs from essays or papers for writing; and for others, I just write. I write what I think of his achievements; is he working hard, is he interested and learning, is he growing? What are his pitfalls? What does he excel at…?
The key thing to remember is that this information is for you. Yes, you are submitting the record to the school board, but the real value to this “record” is so you can look back and see growth; for you to see patterns throughout his development and guide him into his future.
Once you change your mindset, the end of the year evaluation takes on a whole new meaning. It’s a scrapbook of accomplishments; good and bad. Something to look back on; a reminder of where you were, and how far you’ve come. Write honestly, write what you feel, write what your expectations were and wether or not you feel he met them, exceeded them, or fell short. Include information you would find relevant 10 years from now – because that’s when these are going to come in handy. These are not for the school board to use. These are for us to use and learn from.
Homeschooling is an adventure – Ending the year with a written evaluation is recording one chapter in your story. Take the time to write it down (the good and the bad) so you and others can learn from it later. As time passes you won’t forget the story, but you will forget the details.