It is very hard for me to maintain balance between academics and interests. Interest led learning has always been a priority in our home, whether it was baking, crafting, music, pet care, photography. In each area that the girls discover there are all the elements of academics, from research, to writing, to collaboration, experimentation, and ultimately their success and demonstration of leaning comes when the go out into the "real world" and get the pet and care for it, or bake a batch of cupcakes for someone who pays them for their time and talent, or when they win a contest, or when they do something successfully which affords them a second opportunity.
This is where I get a bit overwhelmed because if you are truly life learners, then grades are arbitrary. You "pass" when you succeed, when you receive accolades from mentors, when you are given a payment, when you are given a second opportunity. You "fail" when you don't meet the assignment, you cannot do the job, your work is shoddy or you are simply told by your mentor that you did not meet the assignment. Both these scenarios have happened. Last year in photography Grace was told directly that she failed an assignment. It happens. She also won a people's choice award where she competed against adults and professionals. Lilah has baked cupcakes for a party and was paid for her work. The cupcakes were beautiful and allergy friendly. She has also thrown away batches because they fell flat. How do you grade this? She researched the heck out of allergy friendly, vegan recipes. She measured. She used care. Sometimes the results are better than any cupcake you would spend $5 on at Whole Foods, but sometimes the results are not good. Life dictates the "grade".
In October Grace was given the opportunity to fill in for our neighbor who is a photographer who does most of the work for our town. His photos fill the town calendar, are featured on the town website and any print brochures the town produces to advertise events. Her assignment was open ended, just photograph an event, the annual Pumpkin Festival. We went, we walked around, we looked for photo opportunities and then she met with Roger and went over her work. He had great feedback for her. He pointed out where she did well, and he pointed out where she could have done better. It was a great opportunity and one that is impossible to grade. How do you give a grade to this? She has some great pictures. An A? She has some not so great pictures, a C? She got the historical buildings in the pictures. An A? She did not know that kids need release forms, despite having parental permission. An F? See the dilemma?
Life is not really gradable and when your homeschooling style and philosophy is life learning, the grade is the outcome. I have two wonderful daughters, both with their own interests and talents. They both love God and love their family. They are kind, caring, compassionate girls. They volunteer. They look to serve. They are honest, genuine, and authentic. Parenting is hard and for Greg and me, the measure of success is who you have become throughout your education, not what letter you are, what number you are, what rank you are.