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We're now a couple of weeks into our homeschool year, and are fine tuning our routines and expectations. There have been successes as well as things that we've realized we'll need to change or work on harder. This morning I finished a session of entering grades and updating lesson plans on the Homeschool Tracker Online, so I'm in a grading and evaluation mindset right now.
How we measure our progress and success has definitely changed over the years! One way it's changed is in how specific we are about our goals and the target dates for reaching them. I think that's just a natural progression as we move from the elementary and beginner stages of homeschooling into the high school years. In the early years, the goals were broad and the 'deadlines' were very flexible. The educational goals included: learning to read; learning how to research and find answers to questions of all kinds; making the connections between things learned in school to the real world and everyday life; and establishing a solid foundation in the Scriptures for their faith.
As we moved into high school years we had some more specific goals. Overall, we were still aiming for the ability to learn independently and apply knowledge practically; but there were more details included in the goals. A certain number of credits in specific subjects, a minimum grade earned before moving on, and a set number of hours or percentage completed in a textbook in order to earn credit. And a little less flexibility in the deadlines by which these things were to be achieved.
Our goals, academically - for graduation
4 English credits
3 Social Studies credits
3 Math credits
2 Science credits
2 Bible credits
1 Phys.Ed. credit
1 Technology credit
1 Fine Arts credit
1/2 Health credit
5-1/2 Elective credits
When we're using a high school level curriculum or textbook, it's quite easy to tell whether the work is completed and what grade is earned. For subjects like Phys.Ed. and Fine Arts, we log hours (in gym class or other sports, and in music lessons), so those are pretty straight-forward as well, although the grading is much more subjective.
When it comes to real world readiness, we have some goals there too. A few years ago, my blog hop series about Homeschool Essentials for Graduating highlighted the things I felt were essential for students to accomplish or learn before the end of their high school years. Besides completing their coursework and credits so their high school transcript meets requirements to enter the college or career they've chosen, I think it's important for them to know how to manage a household and have real world skills for getting (and keeping!) a job and being good citizens. Most importantly, I believe they must be firmly grounded in Biblical faith before they graduate.
Some of those things are a little harder to evaluate and measure success.
Although we choose our high school coursework with an eye to the standard requirements for graduation, we still believe in providing well-rounded and well-grounded education. We try to cover a broad range of subject areas, and all from a Biblical worldview. Hopefully they "learn how to learn" so they can find their own answers when they need to. When I see that they take the initiative to find out about things they are interested in, then I can mentally check off that box.
The real-world skills they are learning include practical knowledge and using common sense. Teens aren't naturally very good at that, it seems! They should know how to do things like balance a checkbook, manage their resources, run a household, make their own plans to prepare for further education and their chosen career; and they need to be able to get along with all kinds of people and maintain healthy relationships. I can tell if they know how to handle their money, prepare meals, and do household chores. Choosing a career path and getting launched on it has an individual timeline that's different for everyone. It was easier on us as parents with the son that knew what he wanted to pursue and found the school that would get him started. Then there's the kids that graduate high school without knowing exactly what they want to do next. There's uncertainty so it isn't always a comfortable place to be, but we try to encourage and help motivate without imposing our own wishes; and trust that we'll be able to check that box off in time as well. And in the meantime, we are encouraged to see and hear that they are demonstrating strong work ethics and respect.
Checking off the box that they've got a solid faith is actually not my job. Our job as parents is to teach them as best I can and bring them up "in the way they should go" (Proverbs 22.6) and "in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). It's also our responsibility to disciple them and set good examples. It's their job to own their faith and to live it out. But it's awesome to know that they have professed faith and been baptized, and to see them grow in the Lord. As we see that they are participating in the life of the church, and using their individual gifts and talents in ministry, we have confidence that God is at work in their lives.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ~Philippians 1:6
How do you measure success in your homeschool? Leave a comment and let me know! Then please link your posts about homeschooling high school here - I'd love to see what you are working on! Also, please visit your neighbors and leave some encouraging comments!
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