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Homeschool Grades and Credits without Formal Curriculum

Some parents work hard to homeschool for free. Free homeschooling is possible, and parents can pull together a hodge-podge of resources for homeschooling. Other parents don't mind the expense of resources, but work hard to provide a unique, custom-fit education for their child, using a wide variety of resources and styles.

When you are pulling together a curriculum from free library resources, short online supplements, or mix-and-match sources, it's hard to figure out what to put on a transcript - especially if you aren't using tests. No matter what you use, these general guidelines may help.

Calculate Credit Value without Curriculum

When using a prepared homeschool curriculum or textbook, calculating credit is easy. One completed curriculum is one credit. If the curriculum says "semester" then it's a half credit. And the student only needs to finish 75-80% of the curriculum in order to receive the credit.

Calculating credit when you don't use a curriculum isn't hard, it's just different. Give credit naturally by estimating the number of hours the student works. You don't have to count exact minutes. You can estimate the time spent to accurately calculate credit.

One Credit: Working about 1 hour per day, or 5 days a week, most of the school year, is 1 credit class or a whole year of class. That also means the student could work for one day, for 5 hours or more, and that would also be a credit. If the student is doing a shorter, more intensive study of something, estimate that 120-180 hours is a whole year-long course, usually 1 credit.

Half Credit: For a semester-long, or half-year course, the calculation is also simple. Working 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week, most of the school year, is about 1/2 credit per year. Working 1 hour per day for half the year is about 1/2 credit. A total of 60-90 hours indicates a half credit course.

5 Ways to Evaluate Grades

You can evaluate grades without a curriculum. These methods of evaluation will work for an assignment grade or for a transcript grade. Give a grade based on general performance and general evaluation. Learn more from my post, How to Assign Homeschool Grades without Grading Tests. Here are some ideas to consider:
1. Grade based on a function of annoyance: A = you are not annoyed, B = pretty annoyed, C = very annoyed. Annoyance-based grades should be used when grading effort, attitude, and thoroughness. If you can tell that your student didn't care about the assignment very much, or rushed through it in order to move on to something more fun, this is when the "Annoy-O-Meter" goes up! Learn how to Use your Annoy-O-Meter Skillfully in this blog post. Be mindful of when you are in an overall bad mood, or having a bad day. Perhaps these days aren't the best days to grade assignments.
2. Grade based on moving on: A = met your high expectations, B = didn't meet high expectations, but probably better than public school, and C = not good, probably time to revisit the concept. These grades are based on comprehension of the concept. How well does your student understand the topic? Can they teach you what they learned about? Often a reliable way to measure understanding is to have your student take the role of the teacher and explain the concept to you as if you had never learned it before. Saying it aloud and putting into a teachable format helps with retention and deeper personal understanding.
3. Grades based on their work: A = awesome, B = better do it again, C = come on, not even close! Neat handwriting, quality vocabulary words, sentence flow, and content are important things for an essay. If your child slopped through the assignment with weak words like, "stuff," "said," "went," and others, it could be a sign they aren't thinking deeply enough. Science and math require different grading standards. Did they show their work neatly? Is the graph correct? These are all quality-based grading criteria.
4. Grade based on mastery: A = the child loves the subject and completes some work for fun, like a delight directed learning subject. Learning a new work on the piano automatically got my son an A. Likewise, if you have a young chef in your home and they make a full meal, with sides and dessert included, I would definitely give that an A! Perfecting an old German Chocolate Cake recipe would earn top marks from me. That's one "sweet" grade! Learn more about Delight Directed Learning.
5. Grade based on achievement: give a sample test at home, like a PSAT®, SAT®, ACT®, CLEP®, or AP®. Give a grade based on the score. The score of these tests can be a grade in and of themselves, but was your student level-headed when taking the test? Did they demonstrate excellent problem-solving skills, even if they got the answer wrong? These factors can help bump up their "mom grade" even if the test score wasn't too stellar. Practice makes perfect, and an encouraging grade from you might make all the difference.
You can also get more help with my free webinar – A Homeschool Parent's Guide to Grades, Credits, and Transcripts.Learn how to collect credits from all styles of homeschool education, and prepare a professional-looking transcript colleges will love! 

How do you implement non-traditional grading in your household?
SAT®, AP®, and CLEP® are trademarks owned by the College Board, which is not affiliated with and does not endorse this blog post or The HomeScholar, LLC.

PSAT/NMSQT® is a registered trademark of the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
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