Sunday, July 10, 2011


It is perplexing how a child can get a D as a final grade in a subject that he likes, get an A on the midterm exam, an A+ on the final exam, understand the material completely, and have these words written by his teacher : 
"A pleasure to have in class"  
"He was extremely inquisitive and well-spoken; a rare combination for freshmen nowadays.  I enjoyed having him in class and look forward to working with him in the future."

I know why, but do you?

He enjoyed the subject matter and the teacher but chose not to spend time doing homework and other busywork. And I guess this is what happens. And I am very calm, surprisingly enough.

All along we decided, when he chose to go to high school this year, (the first school experience ever!), that he would be responsible for his own learning. That he would make the decision whether to do homework, study, etc without any nagging or reminders from me, unless of course he asked me to. But, of course, he never asked. :]

I have had nine months to talk to myself and reassure myself that grades do not matter (even though deep down I know they don't), but I knew the real test would come when I opened that report card. And I was calm as could be, even when I looked at the D. 

I know he understands the material. I know grades are not a measure of what he knows...or of what he has learned. 

In fact, He was often annoyed that the kids in his classes had no understanding of the subject matter. They could pass the tests but had no understanding for discussions- one of his pet peeves of kids at school. But we know from our own school days that kids learn the game early on, just memorize for the tests .

Does it bother him that he got a D? No. 
Did he even care about his report card? No.
He knows it is not a true measure of his learning and of himself.

This is a part of going to high school and still remaining an unschooler. 

He will share his experience at the Northeast Unschooling Conference this summer with me as I talk about a mom's journey of supporting my son's choice to go to school while he remains an unschooler. 


  1. Hi Marcia,

    I too had a son who chose to go to high school after being unschooled and I took the same stance that you did, I didn't care about the grades or the effort given to the classes.
    And he, like your son, was a joy to have in class, was really present during discussions and class work and he barely did homework because he already knew the material and was ready to move on.
    But what he did do that was different from your son is that he had a conversation with a few of his teachers, asking what he could do in lieu of repetitive homework and surprisingly, many of them(not all)gave him other options so that he could maintain his grade point average.
    The whole experience gave my son a real learning opportunity, how to advocate for himself with those in power and to decide what actions were worth his time(if not doing homework earned him a D, was it really worth attending the class at all?)and for a couple of classes, the answer was no so he dropped them.
    And those lessons really helped him when he went off to college and beyond.
    So for next year, perhaps you can suggest that your son(with you present if he wants it)have a meeting with his teachers, requesting some alternatives to the repetitive homework. The worse thing that can happen is that they all say no. But the real benefit is that your son learns how to question how things are done and how to advocate for himself.
    I look forward to your talk at NEUC!♥

    Take Care,

  2. Thanks Erica,
    He is already thinking about next year and what he wants to do about grades and homework. Great suggestion. thank you



Please share your thoughts. I would love to hear what you have to say. happy day!