The Best Laid Plans
No matter how well you plan, something is bound to go awry. Sometimes I see the mess coming as I stare down a week full of obligations outside the home. Sometimes the mess sneaks up on me, as it did during this first week of seventh grade. Lest you think I have some organizational superpowers, let me share with a quick summary of the upheaval of the first week of school: 1 missed medical appointment, 1 injury, 1 hospital visit, 3 unexpected days out of the house. As it turns out, Emma is a trooper and despite breaking a bone in her foot she has managed to stay on track in all but two subjects and is only 2 assignments behind in those.
How do I cope with this? I evaluate each week on its own and always try to avoid filling a week completely full. Every subject will have a day off or a very light day so that when something is incomplete or we lose a day (or three) to life crazies, there's room to shuffle things around.
I sit down every weekend to grade all of the work done the prior week. I use the assignment sheet as a guide, so that I can confirm what has been completed and make notes about what I can't find, need more confirmation on, or need to move to the future.
When reviewing each piece of work, I make constructive comments where necessary and mark incorrect answers. Unless an assignment has a grade below 70%, I do not require corrections. Where corrections are required, each newly correct answer is worth half credit.
If I make a lot of comments, corrections are required or it seems like Emma is headed off on the wrong track, I add "review comments" or "corrections" as an assignment on Monday.
If work was missed, as it was this week in Math and English, I first need to understand what happened. Was there too much work? Did Emma underestimate the amount of time it would take to do work? Was there some outside factor? This helps me understand whether I need to simply catch her up by rescheduling or whether I need to regroup on my plans. Where it is a matter of catching up, I am conscious of not creating an overload in the next week. This may mean adjusting two or even three weeks to keep from piling work up. In this specific situation, there were clearly outside factors in play that aren't completely resolved and will require ongoing flexibility and compassion. I wound up adjusting English over weeks 2 and 3 and Math only into week 2.
I create a grading rubric for each subject at the beginning of the year. This helps me plan how much of a given type of work to schedule and keeps me accountable to do grading each week.
Many homeschoolers choose not to keep grades and report cards unless it is required by their state. Our state does not require these but I choose to do it anyway, as it provides a framework for family conversations about how things are going. It will also come in handy if some unforeseen circumstances necessitates moving back into a school, as I will already have the documentation of what she studied and how she did.