Throwback Tuesday: Why I Never Gave My Kids Grades

 Originally posted September 29th, 2015, I was feeling bad that I never really gave my kids any tests or graded assignments but after much thought I realized that I didn't want to either. I now know that it didn't really matter-- both my boys that are in traditional school now (at both the high school and college level) and do very well.  Both having been asked to join the national honor society at their respective schools. 

There is much debate and talk about grading schoolwork in the homeschooling community.

I know moms who refuse to give grades, other moms who grade every paper.  Some moms only grade tests and others wont start giving grades until middle school.

I don't test or grade my kids at all.  Usually not even when they ask! 

Much like everything else in homeschooling, there is no one right way or wrong way to do it.

I think many homeschooling families grade because they're used to it, having grown up in public or private schools themselves.  Other families have to find a way to satisfy state guidelines.  Yet, others do it because their kids ask for them.

I'm grateful we don't need to keep grades or much in the way of the records because I truly don't believe grading kids is beneficial or helpful.  My oldest son had so much anxiety over grades and testing by the time we pulled him out of school to start homeschooling that I purposely refused to grade anything-- EVER!

I know that may sound extreme... but... my kids are perfectionists and I found that grading and testing them actually had them performing worse, brought out anxiety and insecurity, and did not truly show me what they did and did not know.

Often even if they got most of the answers right on a test (when they were in school) they could not and would not recall the information weeks later.  So I started thinking long and hard about grades. What do they really show us?  When else do we ever get graded in life?

Think about it, do you get graded on anything you write or do unless you are a student in a classroom?

Grades don't have any real world relevance and for me homeschooling is about trying to educate my boys while keeping the real world practices front and center.
  •  Yes, my boys need to know how to do math.
  •  Yes, my boys need to learn how to read, spell, and write.
  •  Yes, my boys need to learn how to communicate effectively with others.
  •  Yes, my boys will need to know history and science facts.
But, my boys don't need grades to learn any of that.

Let's face it; grades are just a fancy name and way for ranking kids.

Sure it helps to see if the kids know the material but even without a number grade on the paper it is easy for me to see if my child understands the material or not.  Being home with only 3 students allows me to make sure they're mastering EVERYTHING.

If we're working on a workbook page or sheet and they get a few wrong we go over it, fix it, and they tell me the right answer.

If they're getting everything wrong than I know we need to cover the material again.

I don't need grades to see what they're learning and they don't either; and really isn't that the whole point of schooling anyway?  Why introduce something that would make my kids anxious and nervous about learning when we can focus on fun instead?
I know that if my kids are going to go on to college I will probably have to introduce grades, testing, and note taking but for now I can keep focusing on what does work for us and that's focusing on the subject matter at hand and not one the grades.

Linking up with:  Spread the Kindness, Weekend Traffic Jam Reboot,


  1. For sure grades are necessary in traditional schools- if JUST to hold students accountable to learning the material. But, like you said, homeschool is amendable to be anything you want it to be so long as learning is happening and you know when that is happening. With traditional school that simply is not possible without grading. As always, enjoy reading your thoughts on the subject!

    1. Oh yes, I can't see how a classroom teacher could do it without grades-- there are just waaay too many kids to keep track of what everyone know about each subject!

  2. You are such a great mom with the patience of a saint! :)

  3. All great points! I don't see the need for grades when you homeschool. Who will be the recipient of the report card? You? LOL

    1. Very true! LOL It did make it a bit more difficult to pull together a high school transcript though when my oldest was ready to head off to college. I must have done a good job estimating grades though as I gave him mostly A's with a few B's and so far he's made straight A's the entire time!

  4. I think this is a valid point and many of what you said totally makes sense to me, and I work in public schools. That being said, I do think in over crowded classrooms and with so little time for educators to connect makes it difficult, if not impossible, to truly know where each student is at. Like you said, you could achieve that and it is a big distinction. One thing I will say that I do like about tests, is that some study skills have been taught (which doesn't always happen but we've had luck) and they've learned to prioritize and manage time between assignments, studying and their social lives, but could they gain those skills different ways? Absolutely. So in conclusion, I really wish we could all move towards more of this way of thinking and not needing testing to keep students and/or educators "accountable" but rather make the conditions of learning and teaching manageable so that we can have time to teach, connect, provide feedback and support in the right moment. I love this! (also, sorry for the rant)

    1. Not at all! I completely get the rant having been a classroom teacher myself once upon a time.

  5. Grades were the bane of my existence as a teacher...OK...testing was worse! I had some students who worked as hard as they possible could and got Cs. I had others who breezed through the material and got As. I saw them compare grades; one would gloat, and another would despair. I think grades are a necessary evil in public schools as there are so many students and some kind of "standardized" mark is needed. But, in a perfect world, it would be so nice to eliminate them and just teach to mastery and retention. Thanks for your insight into this, Joanne!

  6. Good for you!

    I home educated my children, niece, and grandchildren through the 1980's into 2017.

    Grading them in unnecessary: all children learn differently.

  7. Joanne, you are so right. I like that you mentioned that grades are just a fancy name and a way of ranking kids! These were all great points. Thank you for sharing at Crazy Little Love Birds link party #8.

  8. I don't think grades are really important at all. There are better ways to gauge if a kid is learning the material or not. I don't give grades in our homeschool, other than the grades that are on their online math program. I guess I understand them in traditional school but I really found that being graded stressed my son out and that's partially because in the school he went to he would be graded low for the stupidest things. My main concern is that the kids are learning and understand the concept they are learning. I do have a list of grades for my son who is now in high school so he has a transcript for later, but I will say that I do NOT give him all A's like some people suggest that homeschooling moms do. Nope. If I don't think he's been learning or doing what he needs to do for a subject (such as assignments, being able to tell me what he learned) then I can't give him a high grade in good conscience.

    1. Yes, my kids were getting really stressed out about grades in school too (and I pulled them out in Kindergarten and 2nd grade!). I gave my son mostly A's & B's on his high school transcript, not wanting to be that mom that gave him straight A's but since he's been in college he has been getting straight A's.

  9. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. It's too bad all kids don't have the self-motivation to not need grades.


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