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What Does a Well-Done Assignment Look Like?

As a virtual schooling parent, it likely has not escaped your notice that grading your child’s assignments is relatively simple. Did they finish it? Great. How was their grammar? Spelling? Were the answers at least nominally correct? Then you give them their completion grade, and they move on to the next task.

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Emily L. Goodman

If you have experience in a public school setting, you also know that this is not the way grades are usually handed out.

It is possible for an answer to be technically correct while not being the student’s best work. It is also possible for an assignment to be riddled with errors, and yet still be your child’s very best effort—and that’s something that only you can judge. However, there are some things that are fairly universal, and should appear in most major assignments—particularly their papers and essays.

Did they follow the format from the book or online material? If the question asks for full-sentence answers, then make sure that they used full sentences. If your child is accustomed to rushing through their assignments and giving one-word answers, it might improve the quality of their assignment—and their learning process—to insist that they use complete sentences. If that fails to suffice, and you’re getting sentences like, “The answer is ____,” then consider asking for complete paragraphs. Discuss the questions aloud with your child, and work with them on putting their ideas onto paper.

Is it the best work that they are capable of? Some students have absolutely no problem whatsoever churning out a multiple-page research paper. Others struggle and agonize over every word, to the point that the assignment ultimately takes twice as long. If your child is working hard and you know it, then you can accept work that is of lower quality than if your child is just dashing off an assignment as quickly as possible.

Does it make sense? You may not read the material for every assignment your child is given. After all, you’ve already passed the grade that they’re currently completing! However, you have a reasonable idea of whether or not the answer that they’ve put down makes sense—and if it doesn’t, it might be time to go back and take another look.

Is it complete? Does your child’s essay have an introduction, a conclusion, and a decent middle? Does their answer to a question answer the entire question, not just a small piece of it? Take a moment to look it over and make sure of these things before you decide whether or not to accept it.

At the end of the day, as your child’s learning coach, you are the best judge of whether or not an assignment is acceptable. Be clear in your expectations, and don’t give ground! It may take some explaining, some tears, and some re-dos, but in the end, you’ll get it figured out—and so will they.

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