Age 14 has been a hard year for Hailey and for us. Brilliant and wonderful. Terrifying and difficult. She dealt with a set of struggles that are hers to tell so I won’t write about them here but I can tell you that she showed such courage facing something that has the power to destroy so many. She discovered music as therapy and began writing songs. She came out publicly and joined a group designed to help other LGBTQ kids. She dealt with bullies and harassment. She is still doing all of these things. And she is good, for now.
This year we faced a lot of hard decisions and one of them I keep getting asked is, “Which school will Hailey be going to next year?” The answer usually invokes strange responses because actually…she’s staying here.
Hailey is lucky to have a large support system of adults who want her to succeed and be happy and working together this year we’ve decided that homeschooling would be a really good option for her. At least for a year. Maybe for longer. She’s very self-directed and gets all As in pre-AP classes and is bored most of the time so she should be able to soar through her coursework each week and use the extra time she’d be sitting in class to start a business or write an album or explore a museum. She’ll be able to travel with us and see the world. We’re doing the homeschooling through University of Texas because that way she has structure and when she’s ready she’ll be able to do dual-enrollment, take college classes and get college credit while she’s still in high school, which is something she’s so excited about.
I do worry about the social aspect. She’ll still take music lessons and workshops and go to camps. She’s going to volunteer at shelters. We’re going to check out the community theater. I’m looking for a homeschool group in San Antonio like the one my sister is in in California but most of them in Texas are religious and that’s not really us.
I worry that this is the wrong decision but then I look back at my high school experience and know that I would have done so much better with this option. My sister’s kids are all homeschooled and they are amazing and kind and social and weird in the best possible way. And I repeat to myself the best advice my mom gave me about being a parent. It’s the same advice that I repeated in my head when I had to decide about going back to work or about breastfeeding or about public school or private school. And that advice is: Whatever decision you make will be the right one for your kid. Because you know your kid better than anyone else. And even if it’s the wrong decision (and there will be plenty) it’s just a part of their journey and a good opportunity to show them that you’re not perfect either.
Last night was Hailey’s last middle school choir. They had a competition and she made it to the finals performing a song she wrote herself the night before.
And I watched her and cried a little and I felt torn. What if this is the wrong choice? And then she came off the stage and told me about the workshops that she’d be able to do next year and the album she wants to make and the musical she’s going to write now that she’ll finally have time and autonomy to choose her own path.
So yeah. I think she’s gonna be alright.
PS. This is all still really scary so if you have any advice to give me (as Headmistress of Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings) I’d love it. Any advice that helped you through the teenage years is welcome but in particular if you know of great music or social groups for young teens in North San Antonio please let me know.
It takes a village to raise a kid and I’m so lucky that Hailey has so many internet aunties and uncles who have her back. Thank you.
481 thoughts on “Hard decisions”
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Life is about options. This sounds very exciting for Hailey and your whole family Jenny. All the very best 😃😃😃
She is going to be more than alright! Some of the best paths are unconventional. I cried a little too at her song. What a beautiful voice and soul. You will all be great and I can’t wait to see what she does with the freedom and support to be who she needs to be. Just wow! Congratulations to the whole family for making the tough decision that will allow Hailey to spread her wings.
I would have given ANYTHING for this to have been an option. Maybe I wouldn’t have gone off the deep end in high school if someone had prioritized my mental health as much as my education.
Not everyone needs the social part, y’know? Or at least certainly not the way most high schools do it…
I think you folks are gonna be just fine.
I genuinely wish I had been homeschooled. I think you have made a very good decision for your lovely daughter.
When her first album drops, I will be right there to buy it. Damn, she’s talented!!
Im so excited for what Hailey will be able to accomplish with this path! She really is amazing!!
Well done Halley!!! Applause Applause!!!
I homeschooled my 3 kids for two years during a difficult time in their lives, an it was one of the best parenting decisions we ever made. Two are happily in college now, and one is thriving in high school. We fucked up a few times, maybe a pencil or two flew at me, but honestly, WORTH IT. So excited for all of your adventures!
How did you know I needed this today? We’re debating retaining my son this year and it’s tearing me up. You give me hope and perspective, Jenny. Thank you!
I think it’s a great choice. Wish my parents had made the same one for me; I think it would have altered a lot of my adulthood for the better, and definitely would have helped me as a teenager. She’s gonna be better than all right; she’s gonna be great. And she’s very talented. Keep it up!
I’ve got friends who homeschool, private school, public school, and everything in the middle. Every single one of us worries that we’re making the wrong choice for our kid(s). So you’re not alone by any means, and wouldn’t be no matter what decision you make.
The homeschooled kids I know are great. They’re dual enrolling for their Jr. year, and they’re kicking butt. Like them, I’m pretty sure Haley’ll be fine.
Welcome to the dark side. We do homework in our pj’s and defy stereotypes daily. You’ve got this.
If it’s not the right choice for Hailey, she’ll let you know. And then you can readjust and figure out next steps. Mad props to you both for making the possibly scary choice.
First of all, I’m sorry that it was a hard year. 14 comes with so many challenges already! Secondly, I want to tell you, as a musician myself, that Haley has a gift. I’m so thrilled that you are nurturing her creativity. Even though I support public schools, it sounds like the decision to homeschool is the best for now. Wishing you and Haley a year full of adventure, love, and music!
She wrote that song herself? The night before?! She’s going to soar, indeed <3 In fact, she already is. (I say this all tearfully, that was really touching!)
It sounds like a great plan for her. It really does. I also believe in you and Victor; you are smart people who know your child, and you will know if it’s not working, or if you need to adjust the plan once you’re working with it, etc.
Wait, she wrote that song herself, the night before?! She’s already soaring <3 (that made me cry, so touching!)
Beautiful voice! Go for it! Homeschooling means freedom!!
I had always thought homeschooling would hamper a kids social skills but I’ve come in contact with a good number over the last 5-6 years and the majority are more social and more mature than public school kids the same age. I think she’ll do great.
I am all for doing the things that place kids where they thrive. When I was a teen, a community choir was a GREAT place for me to feel accepted for my (weird to high schoolers) hobby of singing and instead just be around cool adults and learn music- and seeing that she loves music/singing/choir, maybe that would be good for her? I did a quick search and found the San Antonio one has a student program. http://sanantoniochoralsociety.org/student-opportunities.html
There’s also an LGBTQ choir there: https://sites.google.com/liveoaksingers.org/los/home?authuser=0
No matter how she spends her free time and explores her passion, she’s so lucky to have you cheering her on and helping her find her path!
You are making this decision with conscious thought, love, and an honest appraisal of your skills and hers. It’s not a big mistake, but even if it were, she can always sign up to attend a school later. People have all sorts of reasons for how to school their kids, and if you go into it with love, careful thought, and an honest look at her and you, it works out pretty great. The problem areas are when people ignore any of those three qualifiers.
Trust yourself. You are everything she needs ina Mom. You’re doing just fine. If you need proof, look at her and how amazing she is.
Kudos for putting Hailey first……in my day, the kids came last. I chose never to have kids because of the unfortunate evens that I went through in my early childhood.
(sorry for the 2 very similar comments, my computer derped for a sec)
Every kid and family has different needs, so if homeschooling seems like the next right step, you’re probably right. You get to try it out and reevaluate aster a year and see how it worked out. You can make another change after a year or even a semester. I was homeschooled K-8 and then did public high school (none of that was my choice, it was all my parents), and the options for homeschooling are so much better now. I can totally see her thriving as she gets more time to follow her passions.
Oh Jenny, parenting is so hard! My 16yo daughter has struggled mightily this year with many things, and it’s heartbreaking to watch. We do the best we can with what we know at the time. Your mom is right. Whatever you decide will be okay because you love her and she knows it. Hang in there. You and Hailey and Victor are wonderful, loving, caring, talented people. All will be well. Much love.
That sounds amazing. I was bored in my classes and left to flounder without a plan, and no one seemed to care. I devised a course of study involving college classes on the weekends and independent study on top of my regular classes, and graduated early at age 16. The school counselors ok’d my plan just to get me out of their hair, but no one mentioned I’d be graduating without taking the SATs and therefore couldn’t get into any real collages. I wish someone had actually cared enough about me scholastically, like you obviously care about her! Thanks for making the effort. 🙂
PS I still turned out ok. College isn’t everything.
What a lucky kid to have a mom who loves her so much.
As a former teacher, I applaud your choice. Do what’s best for your child and you cannot go wrong. The public school system is not the perfect place for every individual. She will thrive with you guiding her. And, guess what? If it isn’t working the way you want it to, you can always change directions. I wish you both good luck on this new adventure!
This is what I loved most about homeschooling (both as a child + as a parent)…the way it frees up time for kids to do real things that interest them. You might have a look at the Teenage Liberation Handbook. Good luck! You guys will be an amazing home (+ world) learning family.
If, in your headmistress role, you come up with any curricular activities that either Harper or I could participate in/help with, we would happily do so.
High school is not for everyone. I was one of the weirdos that it just wasn’t designed for and I wish I had been given the gift you are giving to Hailey. Instead, my mom enrolled me in college classes at 15 and I took them concurrently with high school classes. When I was 16 I took the high school proficiency exam and left high school entirely and started college full-time. It was the best decision for me.
Jenny, I can’t think of anyone better equipped to homeschool their kid. You got this.
I’ve been having similar experiences with my 7th grader. She came out as bi, started the GSA at her school with some other LGBTQ+ kids, and has been dealing with some social things with boys in particular. Your Hailey is amazing, and she’ll thrive with you and Victor as her guidance. You got this! She’s got this! And Yay for Strangelings (I call mine Weirdlings).
I was a public school teacher. I’ve taken time of to be with my kids. We’ve gone back and forth about homeschooling (go Arizona, working on being last in everything!). For right now, we’ve kept them in school.
Think of it this way, this is not an end all, be all decision. If you start the year off homeschooling and Hailey hates it, she can enroll somewhere else. It doesn’t have to be a final decision. If it does work out, that’s great! I have plenty of friends who are doing a great job with their kids at home. Do what is right for your family. And good luck to both of you!
I don’t have any answers, just a strange tale. I had to be moved from public school to a homeschooling environment when I was a little younger than your daughter. It had its challenges, a lot of them really, but I made it through and I’m now twice as old as I was then. It’s survivable!
My parents didn’t have much in the way of choice. I was very ill, and they were being threatened with criminal charges because I was missing school (my doctor didn’t particularly believe in mysterious chronic illnesses, so I didn’t have the protection of a note or health plan accommodations to stick with public school). That being said, and speaking only for myself, it sounds to me as though you are asking the right questions and planning the right sort of activities to counter what you can of the pseudo-isolation of homeschooling.
From personal experience, I know that many historical sites and museums have homeschooling days with activities and the opportunity to interact with other kids in the same boat with less of a religious framework. I don’t know much about them in Texas, but maybe that’s an option?
Wishing you all the best.
Oh! That song made me tear up. What a great twist! Imma need all the songs.
My kiddo, a gifted writer and digital artist who has spent thousands of hours honing her crafts, homeschooled here in Texas for her freshman year of high school. She went back this year for her sophomore year with so much more confidence. Both decisions were the right ones for her at the time that she made them. We leaned hard on Khan academy and multiple local involved adults to teach her (though I wish I’d gone through an official program), but honestly the things she enjoyed about it most were learning the things they used to teach in home ec but no longer teach, having more time to work with internet friends on projects, taking commissions for her art, and writing a chapter a week on her current novel project. We volunteered at our local animal shelter multiple times a week and took every form of training they offered.
It was an amazing year. Texas has terrific home school laws, so there isn’t much to lose trying it, and so much to gain. And if she chooses to go back later, as my daughter did, she’ll go back knowing herself and her passions more deeply, and that alone is worth it.
This is wonderful! I homeschooled my kids for 10 years and they are pretty damn successful adults. One graduated magna cum laude from U of Alabama, the other is a junior majoring in Environmental Studies at U or Oregon. Home schooling is just an extension of parenting and you’re awesome parents.
Also, now when you talk to yourself, you’re having a parent/teacher conference.
I don’t think socializing comes from school. The people I faced at school – not much positive about that..watching my mom who can strike up a conversation in pretty much any situation – priceless. I’m now an expat, dealing with a kid getting bullied, and I wish I could homeschool him, but it just isn’t my skill set…and right now he has a teacher who begged to have him in class, so for the near term he is lucky, but I get it, and if you think academically it will be fine – which it sounds like from what you wrote and also makes sense from what you wrote – I think the rest will work out…it isn’t as if high school is the best of human behavior, right? Every time someone tells me getting old sucks, I feel the need to remind them that being young is no piece of cake either. She’s already good – the hard part is over. Be proud.
I homeschooled my kids for two years and it was the best decision I could have made. I wish I was still doing it. I’m so happy for Hailey and for your family. I can’t wait to hear about all the adventures she creates for herself!
Jenny, of course I don’t know you or Hailey personally, but following your family online for all this time, you obviously listen to, love and support each other and want the best for each other. If you, Victor & Hailey are all comfortable with this decision I’m sure it is the right one. New decisions can always be made if it doesn’t work out, but I think she will flourish and I’m so excited for all her future opportunities to learn in many spaces and spend quality time with her parents. I was fortunate at her age to have parents who let me self direct as much as was feasible and it was hard but worth it. How lucky you all are to have each other! Can’t wait to follow all the adventures!
I wish my parents could have done this. I think she will be fine and sounds like the kind of kid that will flourish with the added structure free time. Public high school will always be there. I found a lot of the teasing and social stupidness filtered out by 11th grade.
The hardest thing about homeschooling is making the decision to do it! Once you start, you’ll wonder why you ever chose anything else. I homeschooled 4 kids all the way through until they went to college, which for them, turned out to be anywhere from freshman year in high school up through their junior year. We did dual enrollment, starting with just one course so they felt comfortable in the environment. They all went to college, and two earned masters degrees. They have great jobs and two even have their own business together. They’d also like to homeschool their own kids, which I think says a lot about their experience.
The social thing is probably not the kind of socialization you or Hailey want anyway. You’ll find your own people. Join a homeschool group if it works for you, or not. That’s the great thing about homeschooling, you can do it in the way that works best for you.
I tell anyone thinking about homeschooling–it’s not permanent! You can change what you’re doing at any time, so give it a try! There are so many more opportunities for activities outside of (home)school that kids get all the interactions they need in a more fruitful way since the situations can be more tailored. My oldest is doing online Florida virtual school, so he’s doing the exact same work as public school kids, so if we decide to send him to school, he won’t be behind. (It takes him a fraction of the time of a regular school day) There are so many options! Best of luck to y’all!
You’re too close to the situation, so you can’t see it, but with you and your giftedness as the wind beneath her wings (had to say it), there’s no way she can steer wrong. Maybe off course a time or two, but never wrong. Trial and error is just the way of it, for certainty is not provided to us in this life. Reading you was what helped us through with our own 14-year-old gifted strangeling. You taught our family about uniqueness and depression and how to use them vs. losing yourself to them. And so I’ve every confidence that you and your gal are gonna do just fine. More than, actually.
Just want to say that you are rocking parenting and making the right decision. Don’t second guess – she’s clearly over the moon already. Hugs to both of you. It’s gonna be great!
This will be awesome! Don’t worry about the social part. With all the ways people have to keep up with friends, relatives, teachers, groups, etc. she won’t lose contact with anybody unless she really wants to. Not everybody needs the prom or other horrible, horrible school functions. If she doesn’t like the independence from school crap, she can go back the next year. No harm, no foul. I so wish I could have done this at her age. I think it would be a MUCH bigger mistake not to do this and look back and wish you had.
My only thoughts are that you should definitely make a shirt with your school name on it…maybe even a bumper magnet, or a beer coozie…because Hailey deserves it! (And then you get 15% off at Michaels because now you are a teacher …boom, teacher discount)
Duel-enrollment? Will it be swords or pistols? 😉
(Oh hell. And I’m supposed to be the headmistress. ~ Jenny)
She is going to be absolutely fine! I am envious that she has these options and support and could only wish that all kids did. Bravo!
Way to go parents and kiddo! My high schooler made some big decisions which were questioned and criticized, but right for her. She graduated early and saved up thousands of dollars to travel. She’s currently in Sweden having the most amazing adventure. It hasn’t been easy for either of us, but we are all better for the decisions made. Good luck!
I’m from Canada, so I can’t help much with resources but I can help with advice. And here it is
Listen to her
Listen to your heart
Remember to breathe and, most importantly
No matter what you choose, there will be mistakes along the way. It’s gonna be ok. You have your kid’s best interests at heart (well and truly) and that’s what’s going to pull you through.
You’ve got this!
[much love from the dad of a 14 yr old boy on the spectrum. i feel your fear!]
Age 14 is a perfect time to find yourself, explore your options, and reinvent yourself a thousand times if you wish. It sounds like you’re giving her the support and opportunity to do that. Bravo Mama!
A therapist once told me that when dealing with teens and young adults – don’t hold them to the same “timeline” as all of their friends and peers – their brains develop at different speeds – let them! No one says they can’t be ahead or behind. There is no rule that says by age X your offspring must have completed high school, by age Y they must have multiple degrees, and by age Z they must have a house, career, and 401k (although it would be nice).
We (hubby and I) try to be the non-judgemental (but realistic) safe place to fall.
The great thing about this choice is that she/you can change your mind if you want. I think that there are a lot of paths that lead to learning. Thinking about what tools she’ll need to be a healthy, functional human in the world means planning ways to acquire them that don’t always (or often) happen in schools. Make friends with some librarians! And, thinking of Jane McGonigal’s work on learning and play is a good way to think about balancing challenges with “wins.” Good luck to both of you and have fun with self-directed learning!
I call myself the reluctant homeschooler. I made the decision for 12yo, and it is not a bad one. Homeschool is no longer dominated by religious fundamentalists (though that’s a part of the population). There a lot of parents who have decided to do it for a lot of very different and very valid reasons. And there are great options for kids who are learning this way. It’s not what I planned when I had him, and much of what I do is in stark contrast to my professional life in education, but it is the right choice for some kids. Good luck!
This isn’t in San Antonio but it is a super rad girls music camp: https://trusttree.org/summer-2019
that my friend runs and it is great!
My kid is also 14 and gay. We are super lucky to live in a really welcoming town, but not everyone has that yet. We have many teachers and parents who are gay and out so the school situation is fairly chill, but if we didn’t have that, home school would have been an option we would have looked into. You are doing perfect!
You’re too close to the situation, so you can’t see it, but with you as the wind beneath her wings (had to say it), there’s no way she can steer wrong. Maybe off course a time or two, but never wrong. Trial and error is just the way of it, for certainty is not provided to us in this life. Reading you was what helped us through with our own 14-year-old gifted strangeling. You taught our family about depression and how to use it vs. losing yourself to it. And so I’ve every confidence that you and your gal are gonna do just fine.
You are amazing, and you have an amazing daughter. Y’all are gonna be just fine. 🙂
I haven’t really been able to find a homeschool group here in SA that isn’t in a part of town I can’t get to. But some of the branch libraries have teen nights. Carver does, and I think Bazan does as well. We’re doing that for my oldest homeschooled kid right now, and hoping to find a group that meets centrally long term. I’d start one myself except that literally every group I’ve ever tried starting has failed.
What a wonderful gift you are giving your daughter, finding and supporting a road less traveled, which sounds like the perfect path for Hailey. Magik Theatre is more focused on younger kids, but could be a place to work or volunteer. I don’t know much about this one: https://www.sacurrent.com/sanantonio/the-rose-theatre-company/Location?oid=2320805. Also the Public (used to be San Pedro Playhouse) is doing awesome community/equity theatre! And the JCC on Military and the Woodlawn have great theatre programs. Blessings on your collective journey!
I so wish I had been able to do this for my son. I wholeheartedly applaud this decision.
You’re right, you DO know her better than anyone else. And I concur with your concern about the loss of social interaction…we all know of one weird home schooled kid that never really fit in. But it’s SO easily remedied by parents who make sure she keeps involved with a wide range of social groups! You can do this!!
check out Nellie McKay – http://www.nelliemckay.com/ Conjuring the image of a lonely all night truck stop along highway 1 on the California coast, all but lost in the fog that comes creeping along the shoreline.. this album speaks of the night, the outsider, the plaintive wail of those lost at sea. Sister Orchid was conceived in solitude, executed in darkness. It comes from a place of quiet, a world of low lights and cool drinks, up against a hard wall. An oasis of hungry eyes and easy promises, warm as a biscuit, the kind of place your mother warned you against.
This is an amazing choice and she is going to be fine. She really will.
After 30 years of doubting myself and making decisions, right and wrong, I find myself with two wonderful adults, smart, funny, adventurous, engaged and engaging, creating their own lives. I think you and Hailey will be better than fine.
My advice is to get your asses to Hawaii for a vacation so that your kid and my kid can hang out, and you and me can sing some karaoke.
I am so jealous. I don’t suppose you’re interested in adopting a 35 year old? I think as long as you know the social aspect is a priority, and continue to make it one, those opportunities will come. She’ll make friends at these camps, and maybe the steps needed in facilitating their ability to hang out will be extra, but you’re already committed to that. I see no way either of you can lose. <3
Always do what you and she think is the best for her. And if it doesn’t fit, you can always make a change. Also, as a former International Baccalaureate teacher, there’s that option as well–I taught a lot of wonderful kids like her:-)
Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten is that the fact you’re worrying about a decision for your child already means you are a great parent. I, too, would have benefited enormously from a year or two of being at home for school but in the early/mid nineties the resources weren’t as plentiful. If it helps set your mind at ease my mom (a teacher) has said if more options like the one you’re using had been available she would have done it in a heartbeat. You guys are such good parents and I don’t mean to sound like I should have horribly cheesy nineties music playing when I say I’m so glad I have you as a resource and guidepost as my kids get older. I’m excited to see where this adventure takes you all!
Kids need advocates. No one type of education fits all kids. You know what’s best…and she’ll let you know when you don’t. Best of luck! xoxo
Jenny, You are doing fantastic! I’m so proud of you and of Hailey! It’s super exciting to see just what life she builds for herself! I know I would have loved for my family to respond with this kind of support at her age. You should look for a local PFLAG chapter in your area for great resources as well. Your local Library may know of a good homeschool group or support group also. Just know that there are good days and hard days, but as long as you all keep moving forward, You got this!! Feel free to message me anytime. I may not have the answer, but I can help find it. Sending tons of support from Alabama!
Lesbian Librarian Mom
Look at it this way. Nothing is permanent. If she starts homeschooling and hates it, she can always join her friends at their high school(s). This is just an adventure to be explored and she doesn’t have to marry it.
Your mom was right, and you are definitely some of her best work. Now that we have the internet, Hailey’s going to have so many opportunities to connect that we never did. She’s going to need ways to find her own space in the world away from you, but given the art, music and lgbtq scenes online, there is bound to be plenty to tap into. This holds so much promise- so much more than sitting in yet another classroom wanting to be out in the world. I can’t wait to hear more of her music. So happy for you, Hailey- and for your mom, who reminds me of mine.
Don’t worry too much! I was homeschooled from the time I was a little younger than Hailey all through high school. And I turnded out fine. Normal enough that people are often SHOCKED when they find out I was homeschooled. (Although I often think it’s just because I’m really good at faking being normal) Acedemically, I did great too. Got through college on scholarships and graduated with honors. And for me, homeschooling gave me the space to make myself into the person I wanted to be. Not only will she be fine, this may actually be really great for her. And I think a good indicator that it’s the right choice it that the people who know her best — her parents and herself — think it’s the right choice.
Also, just get her GED. unless the program you are doing offers some kind of diploma, the GED is the easiest way to just skip a lot of red tape later down the road when it comes to things like college and job applications.
I have no advice. But I do want to say that the last time I was with you and Hailey, I watched the two of you in awe. You two are so connected and so love and respect each other. It’s inspiring to watch.
You’re making the right decision.
I was homeschooled after having a really difficult time with peers and teachers in public school. I took college classes for. My last two years of high school. I am still friends with some of the adults who were in my classes, they supported me in ways kids my own age didn’t (not being 15 helps with not being an asshole). I also met do many queer people in the homeschool theater and dance community, which is thriving and wonderful
I’d recommend the “year of living dangerously” by Quinn Cummings. She made the same choice you’re looking at when her child was younger and it worked wonderfully. It’s also funny. My advice is to do it. You guys can always change your mind. Hailey seems to be an awesomely adjusted kid who can advocate for her own needs if she feels she’s missing out. You’re super smart. You guys are a winning team!
It seems to me, that it’s a lot easier to find your people when you choose your own associations, as opposed to being forced into them in a high school setting.
I think homeschooling is such a powerful thing for so many kids today. The world is wide and the easily accessible information out there makes it such a different space than it was 30 years ago. Good for all of you on making such a strong choice. I think it will do wonders for your girl! Can’t wait to see what she does next!
What an INCREDIBLY EXCITING year for Haley!!! Wow…just WOW! Take it from me, as a mom of a strangeling, she would have likely done much better being homeschooled than attending high school as she didn’t really feel she “fit” anywhere…and not fitting, is a horrible thing. In this age of social media (which we both make a career from), it’s so hard on kids to not be invited to a party and instead, sit home alone in their room and watch it all play out on Snapchat and Instagram. You’re making the right decision…because YOU are making it. That’s it and that’s all. No second guessing. Everything sounds beautiful. Haley is entering a wonderful creative world as my daughter is finally as well (she just became a collaborator on the blog and is heading to art school to become a tattoo artist of all things!) Just do what’s right for you and your child…and forget about the judgement and naysayers. It’s all good momma! xo
What a great voice Hailey has! That was lovely. 👏🏻
What a beautiful voice! And how lucky she is to have a community of adults who support her in being who she is. Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to hear her album!
I love her voice, she is indeed a talented special young lady. Don’t worry Jenny, she’s got your strength and tenacity and Victor’s patience it seems, she’s going to be alright. Yes 14 is a difficult age because your in between being a child and teenager and feelings conflict. But, she if has the moxie to get up on stage and sing her heart out, she’s going to rule the world!!!! As parents we are so afraid for our kids and sometimes underestimate their strengths, but she’s got this! You’ve got this!
My daughter struggled with bullying, harassment and “friends” that figured out which buttons to push to trigger her. After some struggles of her own, we pulled her from public school and put her into an online private school that allowed her to work at her own pace, and then we moved to a smaller town to get her away from some toxicity. Her grade point average went up significantly, she volunteers, she had a job for nearly a year until she decided to focus on prepping for college. she’s decided to try out for the local school’s softball team, which I am grateful that homeschooled kid’s have the option to do. I used to question if we were doing the best thing for her, but over a year later I can absolutely say we did. She turned 17 on Sunday, something I feared at this time last year wouldn’t happen. I am grateful that there are options for kids who need something different than traditional public school. I wish your family well on this new path!
Moms know best. She’ll have a lot more free time to socialize since you’ll be able to get through the material faster. No distractions!
These things are hard, because you never know – at the time – how they’re going to turn out. My little story: my daughter was going into Grade 12 and agonizing because she couldn’t fit Biology 12 into her timetable for her last year at school. She had other science 12 courses, but also wanted Biology. There was an opportunity to take it in summer school between Grades 11 and 12, and I fought my ex for her to be able to do it (he wanted her to work a summer job instead). Flash forward six years – and she’s graduating from university with an Honours and co-op degree in Biology, pursuing a particular field in Biology that she fell into at university (and that has job opportunities), and applying for graduate studies. My point (and I do have one): if it feels like the right thing to do – if you want this for her – then it’s probably the right thing. You just may not see the result of your decision right away, and that’s okay. And…what everybody else said above.
It’s so hard because there is never one over-arching clear best answer but it sounds like you are doing a great job both advocating for her AND listening to her so Brava! FWIW UT online HS saved my son, quite literally. He was able to finish school and graduate while in an intensive outpatient program — the school was wonderful to work with and very patient with his, at times, slow progress.
If it doesn’t work out you change it. No decision has to be permanent. Good luck to you both, I predict she rocks it!
Here’s what I think: some kids thrive in homeschool. Some kids require the schedule and structure of public or private school. If this is what she needs, what she wants, then let it be her decision. From all appearances you’ve been raising her to be courageous and strong and independent. I’m not a fan of letting kids do whatever they want but in this case I feel like if she wants to give this a try, you should support that. NOTHING IS IRREVERSIBLE. 🙂
Kudos to you and Victor for raising such an amazing person. <3
I have no advice but I offer support and encouragement. You and Victor are amazing parents, Hailey is so lucky to have y’all.
I homeschooled my only child, a boy, until he went off to college. He is 30 now, and neither of us has ever regretted the choice. It was the best choice for both of us. There are so many choices out there, and like “mg” above said, socializing is a skill that can be developed in many ways. Look at your brave, talented daughter on that stage singing her heart out. That’s major!
I think y’all are doing exactly what you need to do. And your village here has your back, and Hailey’s, too.
I’ve been reading your blog since Hailey was little. At 14 she may not have it all figured out, and she isn’t supposed to, but this I know: she’s an amazing kid, and I don’t use that word (amazing) lightly. The public school experience isn’t right for every kid, it wasn’t for me. Grades 4-7 I went to a super small, local private school and learned more about myself and who I wanted to be, there, than all of the other nine years of school, put together. Explore this option, and if it isn’t for her, I trust that she’ll tell you, and then you’ll reevaluate and explore other options. Don’t let the Texas homeschool stigma define Hailey’s experience, because she’s got something other kids don’t, you and Victor. I can’t wait to hear how the next school year progresses, I think it’s going to be an exciting part of her journey. And I expect she’ll manage it with her usual empathy, compassion, and thoughtfulness.
I hear LAGS is one of the top schools in the country. She’ll get plenty of the world while attending. She’ll get plenty of all kinds of things.
Many years ago I read this book:
The Day I Became an Autodidact and the Advice, Adventures, and Acrimonies That Befell Me Thereafter (Paperback)
by Kendall Hailey (Author)
4.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
Notice the last name of the author? I would love to buy you (and Hailey) a copy of this book, if you wouldn’t mind sharing an address I could mail it to. As I read your blog post I flashed back on what a great book it was. Over the years I wished I had kept my copy….
It sounds like you did your homework, and you and Victor are making an excellent choice for Hailey. High School wasn’t a happy time for me, but in the 70’s only “weirdos” home schooled, and I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have done it for me even if it was an option. You have her best at heart.
Amazing talent there. She’s going to do great things, and we’re all so very proud of her (and you, for creating this incredible human).
The best advice I ever got about homeschooling: You can always change your mind. Now, the person who said it to me was being an asshole to me BUT! it still has been the best advice. If something is not working, YOU have the power to try something different and you dont have to invite the whole damn world to a meeting about it. YOU have the power to change gears at any given point, YOU get to decide what is most important, and YOU get to pick things based on your child’s needs not on your county’s budget. I have 4 schooling at home and 3 in public school (based on where each kid learns best) and the best thing has been having the option to change my damn mind any time i want to or any time my child needs me too
Parenting is hard af. And what is right for one child/family, may not be right for another. But you know your Hailey. And you know your family. I believe that Hailey will thrive being homeschooled and will emerge from her high school years so much better prepared for life, the world and all the other crap adults have to deal with all of the time.
Ya’ll are so lucky to have one another.
Oops…forgot my email! Viposen@gmail.com
I often wish I could home school my older daughter for similar reasons. More power to you and Hailey
No advise here. Just support. My oldest would have loved to have been home schooled. By her junior year in high school she was over the drama and the lack of focus and challenge. She felt that high school was a waste and was ready to move on to the next step of her life and go to college. My middle child would have done good home schooled also. She actually went on to become a professor at a university. My youngest I wouldn’t have home schooled if you paid me. haha. He would have tried to smile his way out of any homework or class lessons. I’m glad someone else had to deal with his antics! He had plenty. And now he’s a police officer. 🙂 Like you said, you know what’s best for your child and each child is very different. The important thing is that Hailey is excited!
I don’t have any advice, but I can’t be the only one that wants a shirt designed for Lawson’s Academy for Gifted Strangelings, can I?
This sounds amazing for everyone! I’m looking forward to all of her art when she’s ready to share herself with the world. It’s not my place, but I am so proud of you both. You are rocking this! xoxo
Sorry it’s been a hard year. It sounds as though you have made the best choice you can for Hailey, I’m sure you’ll make things work, between you!
My sister and I were both homeschooled; me since second grade, my (younger) sister the whole way through. We’re both successful, mostly-functioning, pretty-happy adults, so I guess it worked out okay! The laws and practices surrounding homeschooling are likely to be much different in Texas now than in West Virginia in the ’90s and early ’00s, so definitely research what may be required in terms of registration, testing, accountability, etc. One welcome opportunity that was available to us by law was the ability to borrow textbooks from the county school system for free (if they had any available, and they usually did).
Socialization is a very important aspect of homeschooling, as you mention. Definitely check in with Hailey on a regular basis and see if she feels happy with the amounts of socialization she’s getting, or if she wants more/less. (My sister and I did dance and piano for years, a community children’s choir for a couple of years, and experimented with community children’s theater, art classes, martial arts, etc.)
Homeschool groups that are very religious are fairly common; our county homeschool group was leaning this way by the time we graduated. That said, even though you’re not homeschooling for religious reasons, it may be worth your while to check them out anyway; they may have more experienced parents who know how to navigate the system and can provide practical advice.
If you continue homeschooling Hailey through high school, consider the GED as a diploma alternative, but be aware that not every college/university requires a diploma or GED; the college I ultimately attended didn’t, and took my “transcript” and standardized testing scores for placement purposes. And don’t look down on the GED as being for “dumber” people; back when I took it, the test was actually more difficult than many high-school graduation tests.
As a “retired” homeschool mom (both of my kids are graduated now and out in the adult world!) I can say that socialization was never a problem. I’ve never known a homeschool family that has that problem. Usually the kids end up doing so much more than they otherwise would, but it’s awesome because it’s self-led and things that really mean something to them. Whether you do it for a year or until she graduates, it’ll be an awesome experience. Hugs!
Relax- you got this and Hailey is going to be awesome. You probably already know about this but just in case… here’s another volunteer/theater/ creative/ social option: http://www.fiesta-youth.org/
Just because certain things have been done a certain way forever doesn’t mean they’re the way we should be doing them. I mean, as a Quebecer, middle school seems utterly ridiculous to me. Why would you make a kid change schools twice when they’re at their most vulnerable? That’s just insanity.
And you know, maybe it’s no measure, but you’re listening and working with her in her best interests and that’s a helluva lot more than I ever had growing up. So it can’t be wrong. Can it? I don’t think so.
I believe in you! Nothing is set in stone. If it doesn’t work, you can always change it.
Also – I totally need a shirt with a Hogwarts-style crest of the Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings! Maybe for all us Internet aunties and uncles, we could have a ‘Correspondence School’ crest?
Just lead with love love lots of love! Even when you’re told to give tough love, reject that and just give love. When we were dealing with addiction and mental health and self destructive behaviour I would tell each kid in those moments that they were a living, breathing piece of my heart and I am scared for them and I will never give up on them
14 was hard for my girl too. She’s 16 now and does mornings at the local High School and afternoons at home- doing online classes, walking her dog, and volunteering at the animal shelter. She is happy again and has come back to us in so many wonderful ways. Go with your gut, Momma. Come from a place of love and know that when you do, everything will work out.
As a public school teacher, college professor, and a music teacher, I think you’ve made exactly the right choice with Hailey. Seeing friends in her other activities will be more socially strengthening because it doesn’t have the classroom drama and gossip attached to it. As you said, no one knows your child better than you do, and you having questions and doubts means you’re being the best kind of parent.
And 14 was a horrible year in this house, too. I feel you. ❤️
I would have given anything to be homeschooled. The end of middle school and all of high school were sheer torture. Even now, 25+ years later, I refer to graduation as being paroled. You’re doing the exact right thing for such an artistic soul. Feel confident in the fact that you’re giving her a chance to find herself much sooner than many of us. She’s going to do wonderful. And so will you.
I would have loved to have had the courage to do this for my son. He is not a guy who sits of the curve at his school. I often worry that he is having his wonderful uniqueness edges softened through the public school system. I have made my peace with my choice to keep him in public school, however he is involved in theatre and D&D groups and hanging out with his cool mom going on adventures when we can. Congratulations to both you and Hailey on your choice to have her thrive in what seems, from here at least, to be the most wonderfully creatively charged home that will keep her edges pointy…not stabby…pointy.
Nothing is permanent. Try it! Change it!
I say go for it. I wish I could have been homeschooled through high school. I loved learning, but with my depression and anxiety, the high school experience with the bullying and dealing with literally 2,000 other teenagers in the halls every day made me want to quit school every single day. I used to beg my mother to let me quit school, I hated it so much.
I was in an accident when I was 15 and had to be home/phone-schooled for three months while I was in recovery, and even though I was recovering from pretty terrible injuries, it was a thousand times more preferable to physically being at high school! I looked forward to my classes every day!
My step-son went through a LOT at that age. (Social awkwardness, coming to the realization his birth father abandoned them, probably depression, thoughts of suicide, etc)
We tried everything we knew how to help him. (The lone exception being he wanted to be home-schooled but it just wasn’t in the cards for my wife.)
Ultimately though, although I’m not overly thrilled with his current goals, they are a vast improvement over wanting to be a professional video gamer and going to live with gamer friends in South America (among others.)
My point is: the kid has learned some difficult lessons. These are all things I know and my wife knows and would have happily passed on to him one evening rather than having him learn them on his own (in a rather difficult manner.)
But now he KNOWS them. Completely and thoroughly.
So from one parent to another, all I can say is that she’s going to make some dumb decisions. She is also going to make some great ones. Simply do your best to support her and keep communication channels open and help her learn from her mistakes. And maybe on occasion, when needed, prevent her from doing something REALLY stupid. She’ll figure it out.
Also, personal opinion (can’t emphasize this enough): keep her off social media (entirely, 100%) until she’s done with school.
i wish i had this option for my son. i honestly think he would thrive. If i lived near you, i would happily drive him to the academy each day. I am thrilled for Hailey (altho the acronym L.A.G.S. might not be the right fit on a resume’ lol). and now i see a small stage w/ a space for your bookshop coffee drinking, wifi working, book reading customers, where they can hear a song or 2 from local talented folks looking for a small start. Damn woman! you have got it going on! Go! be your wonderful self, lifting your wonderful family to new heights!
8th grade is hard under the best of circumstances. Have you read Untangled? It’s about the stages of development for adolescent girls. Really helpful. You are right in that you know her best. Good luck. Happy to chat more if you want. It’s what I do 😊
Exceptional people need exceptional circumstances, and your daughter is exceptional. She has real talent. In my personal experience, most schools do a bad job with exceptional people, because they’re set up to serve the vast majority of students, not individual students with particular talents. If Hailey feels she needs more work in a certain area, she’ll be able to pursue it with homeschooling, and if she masters something early, she can breeze through it and go on to the next challenge. She won’t be made to plod along with the rest of the class just because some few students don’t get the concept being taught. And the social aspect of junior high school and high school is highly overrated.
I am so proud of you.
I went to High School with Grammy award winner Michael Morales. He now runs Rockstar Academy in San Antonio. You can google the Academy and see the many YouTube videos.
Best of luck-
Your instincts sound spot on. Here’s to the new adventure!
Don’t even worry about the “socialization” issue. I think that’s crap. My high school was horrible and could in no way describe it as health social interactions. Both my sons were home schooled. My youngest is graduating high school this year. I think it’s an excellent option.
Hailey is an amazing kid. I think you will find that through this next part of the journey she will be teaching you things. She is in enough outside activities that she will get all the social interaction she needs, with more of the right people, then the jerks she would have to deal iwth in public school. Public school would hold her back. You are helping her soar. And if it doesnt work you can do something different next year. She will still be smart and ahead of of everyone else.
yes yes yes you are absolutely doing the right thing! each child is different, my oldest flourished in a small private school and my youngest did the same homeschooling. i started homeschooling my youngest after 6th grade. she too had been bullied and did not do well in a traditional setting. the first two years of homeschooling we studied exactly what she wanted to and had a wonderful time discovering what she was passionate about. i loved those years. p.s. both girls are young women in their twenties who excelled in college and graduate school and have jobs they love. good for you for listening to your child’s heart!!!
From one strangeling to another, I fully support this. I wish it had been an option when I was her age. Imagine the energy and creative potential that will be funneled into new opportunities! P.S. Where can I sign up for this academy myself? 🙂
I home educated 4 sons, who are now aged from 29 to 38. They are all alive and well and freakin awesome people. The great thing about home ed is that it is so individual, adaptable, and constantly evolving for each student – if you allow it to. Socialization? Even if you don’t find a group of home schoolers, with all the things she has planned, there will be plenty of socialization: real ‘peers’ are not ‘same age kids’; they are the people who have the same interests. She’ll find her friends at the shelters, at the theatre groups, at the places she makes music. And her friends will bve all ages, because that’s how real friendships are. Everything is going to be okay, even when it isn’t. Love to all of you. xxx
My daughter also came out when she was 14, and she has bipolar disorder. She is finishing her junior year in high school but is graduating this year. She is just done with high school for many of the reasons you listed. I initially resisted the idea but ultimately decided that she was mature enough and confident enough in her decision to make this choice for herself. She has been accepted to college but deferred and will work and decompress for a year. It is so hard sometimes to see others travel the traditional path so easily, but I remind myself that you parent the kid you have. And I agree that the non-traditional path opens the door for so many other exciting opportunities. And really, aren’t all the really interesting people non-traditional? I do really understand how scary this can be, but Hailey sounds like such a cool girl who knows her own mind. If this is what she wants, I think it is exactly the right choice.
I know you and Hailey have a great relationship, or you certainly seem to, but as a mother who raised a teenage son (who is now 32 – gulp!), the most important advice I can give you is LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGMENT. I think you are already doing that but a reminder never hurts. There were so many things my son went through during his teenage years that I didn’t find out until much later, and I tried, I really tried to listen and to let him know I was open to anything he cared to share, no judgment. It’s surprising the things kids don’t feel able or willing to share with their parents. I know once I turned fourteen, my parents knew maybe a tenth of what was going on in my life, but that was because we didn’t have a very good relationship. I wanted to do better with my son and I think I did, but not as well as I would have liked.
As for homeschooling, I did that, too, for first through fourth grade. Even in Oklahoma, which is very similar to Texas when it comes to religion and football (I call football the second major religion here and it definitely is in Texas as well), I was able to find a homeschooling group whose focus was not religion – and this was in the mid 1990s. So with all of Hailey’s activities you’ve listed, plus the homeschooling group I’m sure you’ll find which will offer even more activities, you won’t have any trouble finding ways for Hailey to socialize. A lot of homeschools have sports teams that compete with public school sports teams, and even offer their own proms. Hailey will do fine. She has you to help her soar and Victor to keep her grounded. She’s a lucky girl.
I was homeschooled from the middle of 2nd grade till my junior year of highschool. Join clubs, volunteer, get ahead academically.
I didn’t miss out on learning, I didn’t miss out on socialization, I didn’t miss out on trips with my family.
What I did miss out on was a lot of awkward middle school experiences, a lot of peer pressure and bullying, I missed out on a lot of things that I don’t feel bad about missing. I was adequately prepared to enter into a really good highschool for the last 2 years, I had friends, i got involved. it was FINE (despite my budding anxiety issues)! your family will also be fine – in the weirdest best way – and if it doesn’t work, there are a host of other options out there to try next!
Also – how does one apply to the Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings? 😀
Sometimes I wish we’d pursued this option for my oldest (now a college freshman). She was frustrated all through high school at the lack of challenging options available to her. She made it through, though, and graduated as co-valedictorian, and is thriving in college now, so I think we did ok in what we chose for her at the time. We all make decisions for our kids based on what we know about them and what is available to us, and then we cross our fingers and hope for the best. It’s abundantly clear you care about Hailey and want her to succeed in a safe and nurturing environment, and it sounds like she’s going to do just fine. Great job, mom!
I think you’re doing a wonderful thing for Hailey. She needs the extra stimulation she won’t get in the classroom and you’ve put a lot of thought into the socialization aspect of her life. She’s going to be fine…and so are you Jenny. You and Victor are amazing parents…she’s blessed to have you. oxoxox
WOW – just WOW! That Haley is a just a treasure:)
And Jenny – who the F knows what the right choices are – when i think how hard my mom tried to do and what a cluster F of a high school i went to despite her best of intentions – it sounds like your plan is a WINNER!!! Skip the douches…and the bullying and the never ending comparisons to things that really make NO sense or difference. I’d love to have gone to your school:) XO – made my DAY with that song (please let Ms. H know!)
When you have such a strong parent/child relationship, plus the time and know-how to homeschool, it is the absolute perfect decision. It will give you the opportunity to teach Hailey so many things that high schools do not prepare kids for: banking, credit scores, budgeting, paying taxes, buying a car, renting an apartment/house, creating a resume, changing oil and a flat tire… all the super important practical life skills that many of us were clueless about when we graduated. As for the social aspect, it sounds like she will be totally fine. I remained in contact with exactly zero people I went to high school with, and in my experience, being forced to function among bullies and douche-canoes didn’t teach me anything socially. If anything, it made me want to build a burrow and withdraw further. Maybe check meetup.com to see if there are age-appropriate groups she might want to join? I’ve attended a couple of meetups, and there is truly something for everyone.
I feel your doubt and concern. My son was a sophomore in high school when the world came tumbling down for him. He became isolated and depressed. We got him intense counseling and a psychiatrist to give him some meds. All of his doctors and therapists recommended home schooling him and that freaked me out. Would he have friends and a social life? Would he just stay locked up in his room? All of these things kept me up at night and made my anxiety spiral out of control. After many sleepless nights, endless discussions with therapists we decided to find an online school for him for his junior and senior year of high school. He was a different kid! Happy, engaged in the family etc. He didn’t have any real friends but made some amazing ones online (he was also becoming a paid gamer online). Long story short- he graduated, met an amazing young woman online (we have met her and love her and her family) and has moved to AZ to live with her and her family. They have embraced him as their own. I still have my worries- they never go away- but am so very happy that he has found his place in this messed up world. You are an amazing mom and whatever choice you and your family make for Hailey will be the right one. Remember to breathe and be present in the day to day chaos and mess having a teen because in a blink of an eye, they are grown and on their own.
We did secular homeschooling in MN for 6 years and it was amazing! The secular communities I found were very supportive and had great ideas and suggestions for meeting needs elsewhere if they didn’t offer what I was looking for. My best advice would be to join some secular TX FB groups- even if they aren’t in your exact location or exactly what you are looking for and ask if anyone knows of groups or organizations or activities in your area. They might be able to point you in a direction you weren’t aware of. I’ve found there is a lot that happens offline. Homeschoolers are a small group and secular homeschoolers are an even smaller group so there is a lot of connecting and networking and info sharing. That’s how we found a children’s theater group, Kung fu lessons, choirs and bands- all through of of mouth from other secular homeschoolers I met in fb groups. https://www.secularhomeschool.com/content/203-secular-homeschool-support-groups-country-state/
” Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings” <- You know we’re gonna need shirts, right?!
“Pretend you’re good at it” works for parenting too.
As someone who was academically, uh, ahead (graduated from both community college and high school at 17), 1. it is so much better to be interested than to be bored; stay curious, chase things, 100%, 2. you can get used to always being the youngest/smartest, and it is a bit of a shock to the identity when that stops, but it will stop, 3. different aspects of development happen at different times, and that is totally okay (but also kind of watch out, because outside people can assume things about where you are on this based on those markers and, nope, have not matured in that slice yet)(mostly: if you have a feeling you are not ready for a decision or an action yet, like alcohol or recreational drugs or sex stuff or Permanent Career Choices or a credit card, it is really fine to hold off; resist peer pressure, especially when your “peers” are 2+ years older than you are).
Community theatre, volunteering, getting together a “band” to play at nursing homes in the area, improv, there are all sorts of options out there that would love fresh blood. 🙂 Make sure that at least some of it has relationship-building/mentoring time and not just applause-and-leave, but there are so many social options out there. I volunteered with a caterer who did events for seniors, and I learned a ton about both yes, cooking and serving and food safety, but also work ethic, relationships and how to argue well (and poorly), making tight decisions, and working your way up through the ranks (when you join: follow instructions; later, you get to make suggestions; later, you get decisions delegated to you). Having several reasonably-functional non-parent adult models and getting to see some of how their lives worked behind the scenes was really, really useful; it’s great to have peers who are going through the exact things you’re going through, but also having a collection of people who were at farther-along stages in life was a great reality check – 1. this thing I and my peers are all worried madly about will not matter in a year, and 2. learning what you want and don’t want out of the next stage of life, and getting tips for how to get there.
Anyway! I bet it will be fabulous. Go to homeschool-y events (ice skating rinks and other places often have homeschool days-of-the-week) and unabashedly pick up whoever you can who seems a bit compatibly-minded (not necessarily like-minded, but works-together) and set up get-togethers with them; learn and do and thrive (and also know that you don’t have to hit goals right now – learning a craft well takes a while, and it’s better for mental health to not be too famous too young, anyway). Figure out ways to motivate the academic subjects that do not inherently provoke enthusiasm but which need to get covered somehow anyway. It’ll be good, I bet. 🙂
My god, I got such a Jenny Lewis from Riloh Kiley vibe. LOVE it!
I think you’ve made the right decision for Hailey. She needs the extra stimulation that she won’t get in the classroom and you’ve obviously thought out the logistics of extracurricular activities, so it’s all good. You and Victor are excellent parents Jenny…and you’re going to see your daughter blossom!!
We home/public/charter/private schooled/tutored in combinations and separately. with special needs and “normal” kids. We did it all!
Do what you and Hailey need when you need it and let the rest of the world take a flying leap!
Hailey will thrive! You will love this time with her and she will love this time with you. Its just another piece of the adventure.
The commitment is only for as long as you want it to be.
I would like to enroll myself and my 11 year old puppy in the the Lawson Academy of Gifted Strangelings!
I graduated high school from an online charter school and honestly, loved it. It’s nice to be able to go at your own pace and then invest your time in things you actually care about. Sending your family love as you start on this new chapter!!
I was homeschooled through elementary school and chose myself to go back to it in high school. I got to do some amazing things that I wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise and it was definitely the right choice for my mental health (freshman year nearly killed me). I got to college absolutely fine and well adjusted and if both you, Victor, and most importantly- Hailey, want this than I absolutely recommend it. You’re a good mama
You’re doing an awesome thing. As long as she keeps up on academic shit, she’ll be fine. If you want to supplement with something official-ish, get her in Girl Scouts – or just get a copy of the Junior Girl Scout Badges & Signs book and let her run through the activities in there. (Everything from cooking and sewing to car repair and astronomy.)
My daughter just signed up to finish her high school education in college. She’s got two years left before graduation and will attend a community college that will also give her an associates degree when when she graduates high school. The cost is free, it’s part of the public school system, and they provide her with meals and an iPad. School has been very challenging for her with the recent diagnosis of ASD, but this will provide the structure she needs without the large classes that public high schools have. When Hailey gets closer to choosing this option (my daughter is 16) I highly recommend it, especially if she has been getting bored in class because she’s been cruising through lessons.
Wanted to commend you for offering your child a non traditional path. I’m a school-based therapist and often see families struggle to fit their kid into systems in which they will survive but not thrive, and my wish for all my kiddos is that they have open minded parents who are able to adjust when their child is showing them something isn’t working. In terms of socialization, I think it’s incredibly powerful for kids this age to find their tribe outside of school, and this will be such a fantastic opportunity for that. It can be so hard for a lot of teens to connect and so easy for them to feel isolated when you’re limited by who you’re placed with in a grade, when they get to open their social circles to ones tailored to their interests it provides them with such a healing sense of community.
I didn’t finish high school (got my GED) after struggling with my mental health in my teen years, it is the best gift my parents ever gave me and truly I don’t know if I’d be alive had they not. Currently a very fulfilled, happy, and healthy adult with a masters degree and a career that I love. You are giving your kiddo SUCH a gift in a way that every child deserves but few rarely get.
As a mother who homeschooled my now 20 year old daughter during the time when homeschooling was in its beginning and still not accepted as a fully functioning alternative form of education, I have pretty much seen it all and been through it all as well. Here is my advice;
• First your mother is absolutely correct in her wonderful advice. You and Victor absolutely know best for your daughter. To quote Dr. Who (loosely) “ It’s a fixed point in time and a fact.” Nothing and no one can change this fact. Try your best to make this a mantra until you come to believe it fully. You are an excellent mother and you will always continue to be.
• Next, keep ALL paperwork and documents chronicling the school year. You will never know if you will need it in the future and it is best to be prepared.
• Ignore the naysayers. It is no one’s business but the family’s. You do not have to defend yourself from the world. You know what you are doing.
• Keep handy all the contact information for everyone involved in a safe place to reference if you ever need it.
• Keep the dialogue open between all of you. This is a brave new adventure you are embarking on and you all will need each other’s support.
• Do your best to make sure your daily schedule stays on track and becomes routine. I say this because when the annual assessment comes around from the state you will be asked about this, sometimes multiple times. It is also completely normal. Tedious yes, but normal.
• Check with Texas’s Department Of Education to confirm if you yourself have to meet certain qualifications to begin homeschooling. Also check with the superintendent’s office of your school district to make sure you know documentation they need on file if any.
• Be prepared to see how well Hailey will thrive in this new experience.
You are going to be ok. You got this down pat!🙂👍
I do love your new title – Headmistress of Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings. I think many of us would gladly have joined that academy instead of attending high school! The choice to homeschool Hailey must have been a difficult one but one that was made with her best interests at heart. Best of luck to Hailey and may she keep reaching for the stars!
I don’t have any advice for you, beyond the good advice you’ve gotten already. But I wanted to say that I wish the Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings had been available for me when I was a teenager. I would have loved that school.
As a Mom who choose to pull her son from Public School when he was entering Middle School, I think you guys made an awesome decision <3 She will excel no matter what, this route lets her become her true self without continuing to be a public school zombie and fitting to the conformities they force on these kids.
We will be starting 11th grade in the Fall and we could not be happier with the decision. For my son Public School was letting him slip through the cracks and had not even caught how much he wasn’t understanding. I was shocked and found ways to get him caught up that worked for him, ways that Public School would have NEVER even considered.
So you guys do you! I totally agree with your Momma 🙂
Unschoolers/homeschoolers of our son, now 31 years old. Wouldn’t change that for the world. He took enough tests to get a high school diploma, then graduated from the University of Waterloo in game design, and now designs board games. It took him a while to find good friends at UW, not because of socialization issues, but because he was looking for kids who had a passion, and his classmates mostly wanted to study something that would earn them a good income later, without being at all inspired by what they were learning…
The Socialization Question! Number one most often asked… There’s research out there claiming to show that homeschooled kids are better socialized than their peers, which makes sense, because they have access to people of all ages and walks of life and time to go deep into their own interests and find groups or individuals who share and understand their passion.
So that’s my unbiased (ha!) take on your situation – I love that song you posted, can’t wait to see what else Hailey does. Thank you thank you thank you.
Thank the heavens for options! My daughter faced acute depression as a sophomore which resulted in panic attacks when even driving past the high school. She finished her sophomore year in a district online school environment. Going back never became an option in her mind. She graduated from an online school. She didn’t have the option of AP classes or super fancy electives but she DID get to do some fun things she wouldn’t have done in traditional high school; Japanese, photography, life skills, online gym (which was awesome), and an anxiety/depression support group that encouraged daily check-ins. It saved her. Our goal was just to get that damn high school diploma so that she could then move on with her life.
Also, do you think Hailey might be interested in doing another post or two with you, especially over the summer? She seems like she’s got a lot together and has a great attitude about things and it seems like y’all get along really well. Would probably be fun to read! Maybe let her interview you this time? 😉 (Nothing overly personal, y’all just seem to have found positive ways of handling and dealing with the crappy aspects of life and I’m always looking for that!)
Jenny – We homeschooled my daughter for a couple of years for many of the same reasons I believed you are considering this choice with Hailey. It was the hardest, but best decisions we’ve made. I second guessed myself constantly and could see the silent judgement from people when I told them, but I firmly believe that if we hadn’t given my daughter the time she needed to decompress, we would have lost her to depression. If I had to make the choice again, I would do the same thing. There are facebook groups and tons of extracurricular opportunities, but my kid was always more comfortable around adults anyway. I worried about the things she would miss, school dances mostly. She reminded me that these were things that I thought were important, not things she felt were important. After a couple of years, she felt ready to go back to traditional school and went on to excel, starting an International Club, and graduating with honors and was chosen the Spanish Scholar of the year. She’s about to enter her second year of university and is a happy well-adjusted human being.
Your mom’s advice is sound, and your kid has a good head on her shoulders. Everything’s going to turn out as it should.
As a teacher, I am generally not a fan of homeschooling because so many people do it for religious reasons. However, you are making the right choice. She is a self-starter and a creative person and she will soar with this opportunity. I teach high school social studies (the school I am have been in for the last 5 years is very small so I am the entire department.) If you need any book suggestions for history, government, economics, or geography please just ask.
You are doing fine – Haley is soooooooo lucky. And high school socialization? Way overrated.
It sounds like she is on board – and that tells me more than anything that this is the right choice for her. The nice part is that this isn’t a permanent decision – if it end soon up not being a good fit, you guys can try another’s option.
For the social element and her interest in singing:
(1) some school systems allow homeschool student to join in on elective classes like choir/band/orchestra; or have local ensembles made up of homeschool students (depending on the size of the homeschool community in your area). It may be worth investigating.
(2) some communities have youth choirs that she could join, that have no religious affiliation, but are instead modeled after adult community choirs. Her current choir director may know what options there are near to you.
I think you are homeschooling for ALL the right reasons. I strongly disagree with parents who homeschool their kids to “protect” them from things like science or gay people. But to give a child a chance to safely explore their identity and to find their passion? I am all in for that! Watching Hailey grow has been such a privilege. I can’t wait to see what new heights she will reach this year.
I wish that homeschooling were an option for me and mine. I just allowed my very anxiety ridden 15 year old daughter to skip school last week. She needed a day. She expressed it well. I know that my very strict parents would never have allowed it. I let go of what I was raised to “believe” was right and I believe I made the right choice for my child. Finding the right balance isn’t easy.
First time comment-er – long time reader. Thanks for being you and entertaining me.
I was homeschooled, more unschooled than anything, for middle and high school years. I now homeschool my 3 sons. Don’t fear the social. Can you really consider what happens in school as socialization? Separated by age and clique. My kids have never been to school and are the most outgoing and social boys everywhere we go. They can and do carry on conversations with people of all ages and all walks of life, wherever we go. What you have planned sounds amazing! She will be able to follow her interests without all the extra bits that are never used once out of school (unless you go into a specialized field). You’re totally correct, you are her mother, trust your gut and watch her happiness and creativity bloom.
I LOVE that you are doing what is right for her and your family. And I love your mom’s advice! I’d like to recommend community theatre. I’m part of a local community theatre here in North Texas. We are a true family. I can think of at least 4 teenagers who have told me directly and repeatedly how much they have appreciated being part of our theatre. One, in particular, had never done anything in theatre before and happened upon us one day. She started volunteering for us, and she said it made an enormous difference in her life. She’s not in college and majoring in technical theatre and loving the direction her life has gone because of wandering in that one day. Whatever you decide, please know that someone in North Texas is sending you all lots of loving, peaceful and calming energy… xoxo
It’s all about data collection. If it works in the long term, that’s great, and you, Victor and Hailey learned some wonderful information about how she’s growing and learning as you look to the future. If you decide that it’s not the right decision for you or her, that’s okay too, because you collected data about it, and that is never a waste of time.
Our current 9th grader did MS at a small Catholic school because it was a better fit for him, but he really wanted to try the large town HS, so he moved over. The experience has been… interesting. Not entirely sure if he will stay here next year or move back to a smaller school. But we have collected data!
Hey Jenny. I just want to say that I wish so bad that my parents had been as in tune with me as you are with your daughter. I was also musically inclined and used it as an outlet. I wasn’t especially interested in the public school that my parents sent me to, and I started skipping school. My parents and argued a lot and my mom was called up to the school for a truancy issue. My mom homeschooled me my senior year and I was able to graduate with a 3.9 and get into the college I chose. I still had a social life and enjoyed my last year at home so much more not dealing with the pressures and hassles of highschool. Not everyone is cut out for the torture that is being a teenager.
My son struggled in school, starting in about 8th grade, but he did OK. His junior year of high school, however, was not OK. He simply wasn’t making it in a classroom environment and it showed. He had started to develop some physical problems, too, which didn’t help. He realized that he was drowning in classrooms and came to us after his junior year with a proposal. If we allowed him to drop out of public school for his senior year, he promised to finish it on his own and take and pass the GED before December so that he would actually graduate from high school half a year before his classmates. After a LOT of soul-searching and doubts, we agreed. He dropped out, did his own studying, and he kept his promise. After that, he tried to get through a year of college but his physical problems had gotten bad enough to keep him from even getting through the first semester, even studying at home. Last year at 22, he finally found relief from his symptoms, although not a cure. But he’s doing well enough now that next fall he’s starting a course of study to first become a paramedic/EMT and then a nurse.
Never doubt your love and faith in your kids.
Oh, Jenny!! We are just finishing the first year of homeschooling for my 13 year old, and let me tell you, it saved her life. I was totally where you are now a year ago: “what if this is wrong for her? What if I screw this up?” The thing is, she will find what she needs through this, and so will you, and this has truly been our best year ever. Scary and ridiculous and more joy than we have ever had.
I haven’t read all the other comments, so forgive me if I repeat others’ points: these are the concepts that helped me most. Look into deschooling at first (this idea of taking a month of break for every year she was in an school) and unschooling, if you run into fatigue early on. I’m in Minnesota, where the laws are very different from Texas, but just know it’s gonna be okay. Truly. Find some Facebook groups About home secular homeschooling, preferably in Texas. They will help so much.
Also, I think you need to make sure and include a financial literacy class and contacts. Udemy is a good source for some of those things.
As a former homeschool headmistress, I say go for it unreservedly! It sounds like she is the perfect kind of student (self motivated) to excell when left to direct her own study. High school was really fun for us. I followed a curriculum but also improvised and wrote my own lesson plans (the year we read Dracula, Frankenstein, short stories by Poe, and Phantom of the Opera was GREAT– better than Old Man and the Sea and Red Badge of Courage any time). I also tackled Physics right along with her and we both did better than we thought we would. I wouldn’t trade the experience or the results for anything.
My friend pulled her son out for a few years so he could work on music. He went back to school later, decided college wasn’t his jam, and is a professional and very talented musician and producer. Your mom is right. Whatever your family decides is what is best and, in the long-run, every decision we make has a way of working.
Schools only really suit a narrow range of kids. I say go for it! Make sure you all have a way to communicate if things aren’t going to plan. Or if they’re going amazingly to plan.
Hailey!! She is such an INCREDIBLE human being! I wish my 14-year-old self could have been friends with her back in the day! I don’t have any real advice; I’m just so proud of her. Theatre is what got me through an incredibly shitty high school period and I hope she gets into it and has an AMAZING time!!
Beautiful voice, beautiful song, beautiful soul!
A lot of times even when we don’t know what’s the right thing to do, we’re clear on what’s the wrong choice.
Seems as if she has a lot of connections to people, and most of the time sitting in class isn’t very social anyway. Remembering my school experience, I was bored shitless so much of the time because classes went so sloooooowwwwwly – I went to a good high school, but wish I could have been home-schooled. Most of my time with friends and activities that were fulfilling were outside of school.
She’s lucky to have such excellent taste in parents.
I was home schooled from 14 to 18, and it was the best thing in the world for me. I felt so safe after all the bullying in school. I went through the program SelfDesign for the most part and it allowed me to move at my own pace, and focus on what was important to me. One thing I will say is the program you go through is everything, and if it isn’t working for you there are so many different options, don’t feel confined by one. I wish you and Hailey the best of luck 🙂
I managed fine in school, but I would have probably also managed fine being home schooled. I think schools can be pretty toxic environments these days. Bullying is tough to deal with at any age, but those years are when you really start to get a sense of yourself and those words can have a lasting impact.
I wasn’t out when I was 14, she is very brave She is also fortunate to have people around her who know that ‘normal’ is just a word that means boring and giving the appearance of fitting into a concept that doesn’t exist and those who are labelled not normal/different are some of the best people.
You’re doing a good job Jenny, she will find her own way and that might be something different from anything you’ve dreamed of yet. She has so many opportunities and she’s already got social skills, so that won’t be an issue for her. Homeschooling isn’t an easy option, but I think you’ll all benefit.
Together you will make the right choice. And if it turns out that a different choice would be better, you can make a different one.
Finding ways for her to be social with her peers is great.
Y’all got this and we love you!
We too have had a very bad year for our daughter. Because of some of her very bad decisions, the consequences led to her expulsion from her school and attending an alternative program where she had to self-direct. It was all an online program.
She. Thrived. And became so much of who she wants to be. Her anxiety lessened greatly. Her sleep quality improved. Her self-confidence began to soar. She found a part-time job and found out how she can achieve outside traditional work.
She came back to the kid she was before meeting with some kids that had some sadness in their home life that led them ALL into bad decisions as a group. My daughter was able to pass 4 classes (one an honors class) on her own, online and with limited support as well as distance herself from the group for a while – which helped her enormously in finding some self.
She discovered so much about who she is, where she wants to go and we have withdrawn her from the school system and are eagerly enrolling her in an online program that allows self-direction while getting a diploma.
I’m a little sad we won’t get prom moments, or a stage walk for the diploma or see her get certificates for merit and such – but, it’s worth it to see her become all-around better.
While we were forced to make the choice initially – I’m grateful now. It really worked for my kid. I’m betting it will for yours too, Jenny. Hang in there and MUCH love from a grateful mom who relies on some of your words to carry me through.
I have two gay children, my youngest two, that info doesn’t really have anything to do with the following, I suppose I’m sharing that in a sense of comradery, a ‘Mom-Sisters United’ type thing. 😊
If I could go back and change only one thing in my life, it would be to homeschool my four children.
I am positive it would have completely changed their direction and lives for the better.
A little personal history: I got married in August 1985 right after HS and had my first baby 1 week before I turned 19. I had four children in 5 1/2 years with two miscarriages between the second and third child, my only son is the third child. Yes, 3 girls one boy in 5 1/2 years all before I turned 24 years old. I have two sets of “Irish twins,” ( babies born less than 18 mo apart are nicknamed that). The first 2 -13 mo apart, the second 2 – 16 mo apart.
Anyway, I pretty much had a nervous breakdown when my 4th baby was a year old, looking back, most likely severe PPD. I made some horrendous decisions that I wish I could change, but the biggest is their schooling. I wish I had been at a good place in my life to have made the decision to Homeschool all of them. Out of the four children only one, my second baby girl graduated from HS to go on to college. All of them were asked to participate in the gifted student program in their school when they were at the end of 3rd grade, to start the program in 4th grade, only the one wanted to do the program, as they would’ve had to change schools. She had opportunities to grow that my other children didn’t get.
Homeschooling is amazing, and I’m really happy for Hailey and hope her wildest dreams come true. What an amazing and beautiful creature you are Hailey!
Auntie Shawna Lee 😘💕
She’s going to be more than fine; she will be excellent and amazing. She won’t be alone. Aside from family, she’ll have friends and a huge tribe of aunties who will have her back. Also, I hope you make school shirts for the Lawson Academy of Gifted Strangelings, because her aunties need something to wear so we can show our pride.
You’ve gotten a TON of good advice here. I’m not sure my words would be any more of a help. That said, as the mother to two girls (one of which was bullied mercilessly during her middle school years) and the wife to a HS counselor, here’s what I say:
The structure of traditional HS is NOT for everyone. In fact, I’d venture to say that there’s a much larger population of kids out there that would benefit greatly to some sort of independent study or structured but non-donominational/non-religioun-focused homeschooling.
If the social aspect of HS is what you’re worried about her missing, it seems to me, what you’ve stated here shows your family has thought that through.
If she is on board? I say go for it and wish her all the well-being and positive growth and experience she can possibly fit into her young adult life!
I homeschooled both of my kids (through a wonderful public charter that had an unusual two-day on campus/ three day homeschool program) through 8th grade. I never (ever) thought I would homeschool. It was the best and hardest thing I’ve done. I recommend it! Email me if you want to talk about it.
Check out Say Si arts organization. It could be a really good option for your daughter. Best of luck!
My daughter had a hard time in middle school. She is a freshman this year (well, for another week ) and high school is so much more chill. Her Counselor had told me that middle school was the new high school and I guess she was right. When our kids do dual high school/college classes, they go over to the college for the second half of the day. Maybe you could do that if you’re worried about her social life. But if she has a few good friends, she doesn’t need all the drama at the school. Good luck! And know that you can always stop going to online school and register back at the high school -it’s not a permanent choice.
I love it that you have built a life for yourself where you can do this, and do it well. You will be great. Look how amazing you are to have created this incredible life. <3
Is homeschooling the “right” choice? I have no idea, but here’s what I do know: you will all learn something from trying it out. If it works, great; if not, then you move on to the next thing, and that’s cool too. Best of luck to you all!
“Whatever decision you make will be the right one for your kid. Because you know your kid better than anyone else. And even if it’s the wrong decision (and there will be plenty) it’s just a part of their journey and a good opportunity to show them that you’re not perfect either.”
Incredible advice, tucking this into my back pocket for future.
Godspeed, Hailey! xx
Jenny, I felt the exact same way before I homeschooled my son. We did it for two years and while it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it was 100% the right choice for him. It set him up to be able to succeed in ways that he couldn’t have done at a traditional school. I remember being so scared, but also pretty sure if I was making a mistake it was not doing it sooner. You are doing an amazing thing for your child and I send you much luck!!!
My children are not yet teenagers, however, I have been doing homeschool with them since the beginning & it is the best decision I think I have ever made. Homeschooling can be frickin hard, but so worth it! The advice I always give to new homeschoolers is, 1-Have goals, not a plan (be flexible), 2-You won’t be able to teach your child everything you want, instead, teach them how to find their own answers & 3-Enjoy exploring with your child!
We are going to a graduation party for a lovely home schooled young woman. She will enter university in the fall as a junior. She has started her own business. But most importantly she will set off on her own knowing who she is and what path she wants to follow. I was lucky enough to write one of her reference letters for admission and was proud to say she has overflowing kindness for everyone, her sense of right and wrong is unshakable, and she is willing, and has the courage, to take steps to correct or improve the wrongs. As far as I can see home schooling has only nourished and supported in all the ways that make her a great, smart, funny kid. I will miss her while she is out of state but will so enjoy watching her unfurl those wings and fly. For what it is worth, I think your decision made from so much love, can only be the right one
You are all amazing.
Just a thought I had, re hangout opportunities… I volunteer for Planned Parenthood in Denver and they have facilities all over, many of which ‘specialize’ in certain things. In Denver, there is at least one location dedicated more to serving the LGBTQ community, and it has a hang-out space in the back for community folks to come and hang whenever they feel like it. It’s nothing fancy – a couple couches and a big-ass tv, but also – friendly faces, and a bunch of other young adults that spend some time there occasionally. Does/would anything like that exist where you are?
Jenny, I was that weird kid in middle and high school. I was dealing with bullies and a depression, and my dad had a heart attack when I was 14, and he couldn’t provide structure or rules. My mom homeschooled me, and I was taken out of school halfway through my freshman year. All I can say is that my mom probably saved my life, literally and figuratively. If she hadn’t, dropping out of school would have been my best-case scenario, and I don’t want to think about the worst-case options. I was involved in community theatre, and even though that has its own set of problems, I made lifelong friendships. When I could, I dual enrolled in community college. I’m successful because of my mom’s decision to homeschool me. Public school is not for every kid. You are making a good decision, and it isn’t irreversible even if it doesn’t end up working out for her. The love and support and hearing your daughter are there, which is what will work better than anything else.
Parenting sucks because you don’t get a do over. Both my kids have learning disabilities that were discovered pretty late. In my zeal to advocate for how smart they are (and they really, really are the best kids in the world:), I ignored some of the warning signs. Oops; lots of mom guilt here. But, better late than never and they are fine. Your daughter will be fine. There is never an exactly right choice or an exactly wrong choice in these big life decisions. If over time, you see her veering into isolation, you make a change. It’s really that simple. You do what you think is best as a family. You all are smart. This is the most right choice and the one that you’re going with. That’s it. Done.
Dear Ms. Lawson, I am here with my two daughters (out of five kids) who love to listen to the stories that you write, Ialbeit edited for age appropriateness. And we wanted you to know that it’s going to be all right. These two girls go to public school now, but use to homeschooled. My other children are homeschooled, one with a bachelors and one finishing an associates. And advice I would give in regard to your teenage daughter is to always treat her like the adult you want her to become, while always remind her that you are her mother. Thank you for many evenings/lazy days of laughter. We are so happy you are in our lives. Good luck, feel free to reach out to me for any advice or just to chat.
Dear Beloved Headmistress,
I was in your shoes about a year and a half ago in regards to my son. I had been on the fence for over a year but once I pulled him and started homeschooling him from midway 4th Grade to the end of 5th. Next Fall, middle school we are going to try again to attend reg school. We have an agreement, you must give this a try, an honest try. We will see how things feel over our Winter break, if he needs to be pulled or continue. There is a few things in life that is set in stone, this is not that topic. You will know pretty soon if this is a good choice. Keep up the group events. Follow your heart, this really is an opportunity to fly, you just be that wind. But ya know don’t fart to make that wind…
14 was the toughest age. If you can make it through that, the rest is smooth sailing.
Off topic here. ADD story, because I have ADD. I made my periodic appointment to see my ongoing psychiatrist 4 months ago. I’m having difficulty making my appointments, so I tried really hard to make it. I showed up on time … a week early. Had to return home and come back the following week. I missed the appointment the following week. It hurts. And I had to pay a missed appointment fee, but I did not get a “Good Job Trying Hard” bonus for the week before.
Another time, same situation. I showed up on time, on the right day … at my gynecologist’s office. Still no reward for getting 2 out of 3 correct.
“Headmistress of Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings” is definitely something that will look good on your bio/resume/cv.
Nothing wrong with a different path.
Best thing I ever did was drop out of HS.
She has loving parents and that’s what matters.
She will do well.
I wish my mother had given half the thought to my night school journey that you’ve given to Hailey’s. Sounds like she’ll not only survive, but thrive. And be grateful, in the long run, that her parents were so supportive and caring. She’ll definitely be all right. (BTW, “alright” is not a word. It’s “all right.” A pet peeve or mine. I’m a Grammar Nazi.) You’re a great mom.
Not NIGHT SCHOOL JOURNEY, HIGH SCHOOL JOURNEY. Damned autocorrect.
We are homeschooling our son. Pulled him out halfway through first grade (he’s in 4th now). It has been the best decision for him, and our family. When I told my Mom that we were homeschooling she began to cry, and I thought she was going to tell me that we were making a huge mistake, but instead she told me how she wished she had had the courage to do that for me when I was a child. She told me she knew in her soul I needed it, but back then it was still unclear whether or not it was legal. Those words not only confirmed to me that we had made the right choice for our son, but that school really was that difficult for me, and I’m not just imaging it different through the foggy lens of time. I’m so glad that we as parents have more options to help our children navigate their future.
Well done, Halley! I used to teach in a parochial brick and mortar school for 20+ years and our own kids went to a public school. I remember one of our sons asking if he could come to be in my class and be with the class of super great students I had. I said no for lots of reasons and although he is 34 now I still think about it and wonder how it would have gone. He would not have met some of the great people that he knows now…but still. Then I thought maybe our youngest son should go somewhere else and I didn’t do that either. They are all fine in the end, but still all these years later I think about it. Mom guilt is never over, but you have to make a call. I quit the parochial job and got a job teaching for a state school online. It was the right place for many, but certainly not for all, just like any other place, but it was better with the parents involved as overseers not commandeers. I guess the bottom line is that as parents we never are sure, well, this parent is never sure. I am on the Enneagram as a 2 so that makes since. You love her with all your heart and that is the best thing ever.
As a suicidal, depressed, anxiety-ridden teenager, I was homeschooled via a program my high school set up specifically for me for my 11th grade year. I was almost catatonic most of that year, so I don’t remember a ton, but I never would have graduated high school without it. My teachers came to my house after normal school hours, a different subject each day of the week. Looking back on that time in my life, now 15 years later, I think I would have done much better personally if I was homeschooled all throughout high school, and allowed to explore socializing in different settings than your typical HS after school club. HS socializing was hard for me, girls can be really mean, and my friends didn’t understand any of my issues so I felt alone and isolated even among them. I knew no one my age going through what I was going through. I was never given the option of a support group, or anything of the sort, because my parents were just trying to figure out how to survive it all same as I was, and none of us really knew what we were doing. I chose drinking myself stupid, getting high, and doing other assorted illegal things as my extracurriculars, because I had nothing better to do. I needed something different than what I had. My parents did their best, and I think given the chance to do it over, they may have let me be homeschooled and tried to find other activities for me to do so I didn’t have the strong desire to drown myself in alcohol at night and take caffeine pills all day, usually high most of the time. But they both had full time, demanding careers that left me on my own a lot, and I don’t think they felt homeschooling would have been possible because they were both at work all day. And honestly, I do well with structure, but for whatever reason I didn’t do well with the normal HS structure. Given the structure of homeschooling that one year, I felt better because it was more tailored to meet my needs. I also really didn’t have the option to skip class, because when my teacher showed up, my parents could shove me down the stairs in my pajamas and make me go. Not saying that’s a great solution, but it was an option when I was really fighting back.
I think you are doing the absolute right thing for Hailey. It’s clear you know this, and I think there will be more times where you may doubt your decision or wonder if it was right, but you are doing your child a great service by allowing her to be who she is, and learn in the process. The only advice I have is to keep letting her explore life, herself, the world, and give her structure regarding school work, which it sounds like you are already prepared to do. I never finished college because I was never prepared for it and it was too overwhelming. You are giving her a chance for a true head start with college, and letting her have that experience while still living at home and having the safety and support of her parents. I think that will prepare her well for the rest of her college experience when she graduates high school, whatever that experience may be.
Some people do great with the typical high school experience. My sister excelled, then excelled through her bachelor’s degree, then excelled through her master’s degree, and is now excelling through state certification to become a principal at the charter school she helped start herself. That was never going to be anywhere close to my experience. I needed something different and I never got it, and never finished college because of that. I can still go back, yes, but it’s so unappealing to me because of my negative experiences.
You are flooding Hailey with positive experiences, and allowing her to choose. That is so unbelievably important and such a wonderful choice on your part. Just keep doing what you’re doing. I think she will find her path in life, and be able to enjoy the road along the way. And when hard times hit, because they always do, just keep reminding yourself you’re doing best by your child because, like you said, you know her. I think all of your life experiences, your personal struggles, and also great personal successes have put you in a position to be the best possible advocate and parent for Hailey. It’s really pretty amazing. You have this. You really do. And we are all here to remind you of that if you need it.
You’re going to do great. Make sure Hailey knows it’s okay to speak up if something isn’t working for her. If it’s the way work it handled or if she needs more social time, or more/fewer activity time. She of course needs your guidance, but she also knows what she needs to keep her happy and productive. She is brilliant, just like her mom.
My brother is a very kind ,talented ,musical kid . He is gay and presents very much so in a small farm town in Ontario. High school broke him – for a long time. If my mom had the resources and ability to give him the option you are able to give your daughter J believe he would have succeeded without the trauma .
It’s a beautiful thing you can do for her . She will find her tribe much easier in extra curriculars.
Because she has been in a group setting (public school) for a long time, her socializing structure is in place. This is an opportunity to find her own people and flourish even more. The biggest part of this equation is that you are all communicating with each other. And yes,you know your child the best but you’re also willing to hear other’s ideas. There is amazingness is her future and in yours, also. 😊
Okay, I’m older than you, but I would like to join the Lawson Academy, please, because I never had that option and I am definitely a strangeling. 🙂
I don’t have any experience of home schooling, so no advice and you don’t need me to tell you that it’s the right thing, because as you say, you know your kid best. But it sounds like this is a great option for her. 14 was a hard year for me too, and while I don’t think our struggles are exactly the same, here are some things I think would have wanted to hear.
Keep being you. Don’t let the bullies tell you that you should be anything else. I don’t know how much of the bullying/harassing has to do with being gay or if it’s other stuff too, but let me just tell you, it does get easier. Adults can be jerks about it too, but not as often. You will find more of your people and they will accept you for who you are. And you are worthy of that acceptance and love.
Amazing song and performance, Hailey! We homeschool our kids in two different programs by K12. Our 14 year old is in the Independent Study program (where I actually guide her) and our 16 year old is in the International Academy where she has online instructors for every subject. 16 is ambitious and independent so she does really well. The school also has dual enrollments for various universities, which we will be looking into for her junior and senior years. I’m sure Hailey will do great!
You are one amazing mom.
Longtime homeschooler here, on the second child. First is all grown up and smart and stuff. Plus I throw an annual conference. Homeschooling is WONDERFUL! If you are ever terrified or just need someone to talk to, get in touch. Kathryn
The best thing my dad told me to help with high school… well it was in two parts. The first part is that no one in the world could offer him enough money to go back in time and be high school him and do high school over again. Not the schoolwork, but being a high schooler in high school. Knowing that an adult I respected, who is educated and intellectual hated it as much as I did helped.
He also said that anyone you meet in high school is an accident of geography, and that the only thing you have in common is where your parents are employed – that they aren’t really your peer group, just a random asssortment of people from your age cohort. That when you are an adult with the choices an adult can make, you get to find your own peer group, of people with similar values or hobbies or whatever – and that life gets a lot better when you can do that.
He was right too.
I moved to a house in the city in the best school district so my kids could go to the number one high school in the state. Yeah. Well. Kids live to shake things up, and not only did my kids NOT go to that high school (which would have eaten them both alive), they go to different high schools, which conveniently are long drives in opposite directions from our house. And I’m grateful, because I had options for them I never had for me, and they are both where they belong. Own your choice, she’s a lucky kid.
I am so PROUD of your family and I love this idea!! I had a brilliant son who bombed out of high school and who is now owner of a start up company in a tech field and his product is going to change the world! I have NO worries about her social life. High school SUCKS. I have 2 kids and 10 stepkids and I think high school is only a good fit for about 15% of the population. GO HAILEY go!!! Community theater is AMAZING!! Life is amazing without all the stupid limitations we choose to impose on people.
Hi, I unschooled my 5 kids for some time. Oldest went to UCDavis and got her Bachelors at 21.
Next one is finishing an associates at a community college and he’s 18.
My 15 decided to go to public school
As did my littler ones.
As long as you are present in her life and treat her with respect for the adult you’re wanting her to be. It will all be okay.
My 10 & 8 year olds love both your books, I edited as I read (for age appropriateness). I have spent many lazy afternoons reading and laughing till we cried. Thank you for letting us know that it’s okay to talk about mental health or it’s lack :/
You are Amazingly brave and thank you, thank you.
If you need any advice on the front of schooling email me.
Mom of 5 great kids.
Hailey is so talented and incredibly lucky to have you and Victor as parents. She is going to shine brighter than ever before, and I, for one, am looking so forward to seeing how she changes the world for the better in her efforts. Music is a universal language, and she has much to say. Hailey- if you’re reading this; I’m so proud of you and impressed by your strength and talents. We are all lucky to know the little bits about you that your Mom shares with us. Hopefully one day you will write a book or blog or whatever- something that shares you with other people. So many younger adults (and grown!) could benefit from your wisdom. You are an old soul. XO
Your mom was right – you KNOW your child and will do what you think best at the time. Fourteen is a hard year for all kids, I think – particularly in this day and age with social media, etc.
You will always worry if you made the right decision or said the right thing. That’s part of parenting. You two are excellent parents and your mom is right. Go with your gut instinct and I think you’ve already told us what it is…. You just need a little affirmation because it is always scary. I have 2 girls in their 30’s and was gifted with a grqndchild just about one year ago and watched with awe how my youngest paddled through the first year of parenting. Hardest job in the world. In the meantime remember that you have an amazing daughter and it’s a decision that can be altered at any time. Personally tho from this 62 year old mom – you’ve got this. You do. ♡
I desperately begged my parents to allow me to home school from sixth grade on. If the online options had existed then, I probably would have been able to. I know that I would be a less damaged person had I been able to get out of the horrific bullying situation I was in for seven years. This is absolutely the right decision if you and she believe it is.
She’s lucky to have parents like you and Victor; best to all 3 of you and I’m glad you’re minimizing her exposure to high school “royalty” (cheerleaders and male jocks, ugh).
My goodness. She is a lovely, talented, and wonderful human!! Tears are streaming down my face, so many of my people are going through hard times right now. It is less about the what if, and more about what will be. So much love. And the talent makes me weepy!! (in the best way possible). Fairly certain the entire worls needs a hug right now.
This sounds like a great option for your family! We’re lucky here in Canada in that our school options aren’t tied to where we live. As long as you’re able to provide transportation for schools away from your normal default school, your kid can go to any school in the district. And that doesn’t even apply if you’re going to a special program that’s offered by the school board. Our soon-to-be 15 year old is in a specialized visual arts program for high school. She’s also a year ahead in math (thanks to a program at her old school) which keeps her from getting bored. Plus she has a large group of friends there. You have to find what works for your kid and go with it.
Hi. I’m now in my 40s and was removed from my 9th grade year to be home schooled. It was the best decision my parents could have made. I think sometimes traditional schools over reach. Your daughter is going to be fine. My sister and were both home schooled but did it differently. I’m a morning person snd my sister night. My parents let us work our on schedule. We’re both successful in our own rights. Kudos to you for taking the leap.
Just the fact that so so so many public school teachers homeschool their own kids should reassure you some. I count myself among those. I have a 26 year old and a 10 year old. It’s a wonderful choice. Read “Hold On To Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate. It will really help clarify things.
Love to you all
My advice is to trust her and trust yourself. For our own reasons my daughter and I decided to have her do an online schooling option beginning her sophomore year in high school. No one else supported it and I had the same reservations about the social aspect. But I trusted her and my heart and it was the best decision we could have made for her. The change I saw in her as she was able to learn as she needed to and without the negative challenges that drove her to want to pursue this option brought my daughter back to life and, I believe, saved her. As parents we don’t always know the right or wrong decisions but if they are made in love they are the best we can do!
For many years I volunteered with Rock and Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles. I cannot begin to tell you how fabulous this organization is and how beautifully it supports young girls. There is a San Antonio camp (http://www.sarockcamp.org/) and I’m sure it’s top-notch. Just wanted to share, as I’ve seen the magic of this group up-close! And like so many others have said – you’re rocking it as a parent!
Jenny, it sounds like this is the right choice based on what you’ve said. But you know what? If it’s the wrong one in the end you can unchoose it and find a different path that is better. I think she sounds like she is really going to thrive but if not, we’ll, there are other things. She sounds like she’s very tuned in to herself and knows you and Victor will be supportive no matter what. And that’s really what matters, yeah? You made the decision together and you can change it together.
Seriously you two sound like awesome parents and I am sure Haley knows that.
Are online homeschool groups a thing? I know my pocket friends are some of the most supportive people I have even if I’ve never met them in real life.
her song was beautiful, she obviously has so much talent! theater is a wonderful thing for her to get involved in, theater people are for the most part warm and kind and very supportive. i think homeschooling is a wonderful option, im sorry i didnt have it and that i couldn’t give that to my kids. i know many homeschooling families here and the kids are incredible. as long as you love and accept her, there wont be many mistakes. as the mom of 4 grownups the only advice i have for you is : pick your battles. what is truly important and what can slide away? im sure you and victor are doing an amazing job, stop worrying and just enjoy her being who she is right now. times goes by so dang fast…
Even if it is the wrong decision… it’s not irreversible. You aren’t contemplating a face tattoo. If she hates it, can’t find peers, seems to be regressing into a uncouth animal who grunts at you in the hall and hasn’t bathed in three weeks… then put her back in a school. Homeschooling isn’t a face tattoo… you can change your mind.
But, it’ll probably be awesome. I did home study through our local high school when I was in high school. I didn’t lack for friends or social activity. It was great.
I’ve been wanting so badly to homeschool my own child. He is so smart and spends most of the day bored at school. Homeschool would allow him so many other opportunities. And by the way… I am a public school teacher! Unfortunately, I can’t pull him because I still have to work. But I’m going to keep hoping and dreaming. Good luck to y’all! I think it’s a great decision!
You are probably saving her life. Nothing should be easier to do.
I wish I could have been home schooled. Most kids are little monsters. Incomplete brain development is a terrible stage. Then add a bunch of unsocialized and under socialized minors (a fair number of them being actual sociopaths) thrown together with only exhausted teachers to give them supervision. It’s Lord of the Flies out there. Really, who’s the genius that put this system together anyway???? Its systemized trauma. I’ve never met anyone who remembers school fondly. But every kid I’ve ever met thats been home schooled has been really mentally healthy (well, except for the ones with families that don’t believe in evolution…) confident, and a great human being. They get plenty of socializing without being subjected to guaranteed social abuse.
Great performance Haley!
As a mom of two teenagers who have each had their own challenges and obstacles, and as a Mom who has questioned and second guessed like any other parent, I say as long as everyone is on board, then go for it. You’ll all be just fine 💙
I cannot wait to see the LAGS tee shirts!
Hang in there, Hailey. You can do this. 😀
Hang in there, Jenny. You got this. 😀
As Headmistress of LAGS and an amazing parent, I know your beautiful girl will continue to learn and grow into an even more wonderful adult with you at home and abroad. I wish homeschooling had been an option when I was a Strangeling at her age, when being bullied, ostracized and left out was the norm. In my last year of a tormented and horrible high school experience I finally found a group of fellow-weirdos and we made it through and went on to top schools where individuality was a plus.Wherever she is, at home or in school, she will thrive and will find that core group of friends to socialize with because they share her values and aspirations, not because they are thrown together in a random class. You Go MOM!
I do not miss being 14.. You three have got this! I do have a “tip”, you should make sure to incorporate some sort of body movement every day. Maybe a gym membership, dance class, DVDs done together, or something. Does Victor Zumba? This is not to stay thin but to feel strong in your body. LIfelong respect and caring for your body are so important for both your mind and your health as you age. I would also make weekend brunch dates with friends, new and old. Giggle fits are great for the soul and brunch makes it seem all adulty. Also what do I need to do to get an honorary degree from Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings?
I read that last paragraph as “it takes a villain to raise a kid,” and I think that’s pretty true, especially one with as many super powers as Hailey. Gotta outsmart her somehow.
You all are going to be totally fine. This year is going to be such a gift to Hailey and her future. I was that same kid, and my mom “homeschooled” me from 5th grade. On paper, she was a TERRIBLE candidate to homeschool a child. Her mental and physical diffi ulties kept her from paying much attention to what I was actually doing. But for me? That didn’t matter. I was self driven. I planned my years out and then did my best to finish the normal amount of school work for a year in 3-4 months and generally succeeded. I worked three jobs.
I wouldn’t give up that experience for anything.
She’s your kid. She’ll be awesome, no matter what. The fact that you are seeking, searching, delving says so much about her possibilities. Best wishes to all ya all.
Probably you already know about Arts San Antonio, but if not, they might have some interesting options to explore:
This isn’t really advice but I think it might be helpful. I was homeschooled K-11th grade and it was awesome. It has its own set of pros and cons obviously but I think it can be a great experience.
Well-done Hailey! Goosebumps! You’ve got this!
My high school story: We moved after my freshman year and again after my sophomore year. The moves were planned with no thought about the quality of my education. I was left to take whatever classes I was assigned, regardless of my skill level. You are taking an active role in providing the education she needs at a level she can engage and thrive in. She will have the tools to achieve her dreams because you will make sure she gets them. Kudos and admiration for you and Victor for making this commitment. Hailey is a very luck young lady.
She will be fine. And if it is a mistake, she’ll still be fine, because there’s a chance to rectify an error (and even errors that go unrectified…and believe me, I’ve made more than,my share) she’ll slearn from and still be all right. Kids are far more resilient than we give them credit for.
The best piece of advice I ever heard as the parent of teenage daughters is: this, too, shall pass. No matter what happens, time will smooth the rough edges. And you’ll all be just fine.
I haven’t read all of the comments so this might be a repeat but you are making the right decision! This world is so crazy now! I live in a very rural area in the mountains of North Carolina and we have sort of a family compound-my sister lives with my mom and my daughter and granddaughter and my brother live across the road. All of us except my mom have college degrees in different fields. We hope to homeschool the “Golden child” because all of us with our combined knowledge along with friends with various talents and careers can give her such a wonderful educational experience!!!
High School can be an ordeal. My husband was bullied to the point of violence, vandalism, and the police being called and a decade later is still hurting and mistrustful. I had an okay High School experience… but mostly because my best friend beat the snot out of anyone who made me cry, so I was very much sheltered by that. (And administration refused to believe a girl would throw the first punch, so this resolved most issues within the first month of meeting her.)
You know your daughter best, and if she’s self motivated this would be a wonderful path for you to explore. My hope is that she continues to grow and blossom with your support!
I was homeschooled my sophomore year in high school and it was one of the best years of my life!! So glad she’ll have time to explore all her creative outlets and to travel.
ALL the goosebumps! Hailey has a wonderful, powerful, emotive voice. <3
I know someone whose daughter was heavily involved in dance and had opportunities to travel with her talent, so she did online high school. She was driven, self-directed, and now attends an Ivy League college and is absolutely thriving. If Hailey is involved in activities with people, I don’t think you need to worry about her being isolated. And she’ll likely get a better education that will better prepare her for college.
It sounds like a wonderful plan and I bet it will work out great. But if it doesn’t, you all get to change things. Good luck!
I’ll comment later on schooling…for now….has she sung a ukelele duet of dirt n worms with her cousin? I’d love to hear them singing together. Beautiful. Thanks to Hailey for letting you share this gorgeous clip. My six year old writes songs but they are usually more like demonic psalms. I need an exorcist.
I was the happiest child
With my parents
So happy was I
But then my gods
300 of my gods
Came to destroy things
And my parents were not happy.
No advice – just love. I love that you’re giving her this opportunity and that she has amazing parents. ❤️
A good big weird chunk of the internet is rooting for you.
I’m holding her sweet self close to my heart. Both of my Grandgirls identify as gender queer so I am aware of the struggles. Strong family and love can overcome so much hardship. She is and will always be of our tribe.
I don’t have any advice re: parenting teens or homeschooling, but I can’t recommend enough your idea to check out the community theaters. In my youth and adulthood I have participated in these groups, and it is such a strong, welcoming environment for LGBTQ. And making music and art with a group is an incredibly satisfying and bonding experience. 💗 Break a keg next year!
Sounds like you’ve a great adventure ahead. I’ve several friends who were homeschooled. They are extremely kind adults and, most importantly, happy healthy adults. Remember it’s not “all or nothing”, try to “go with flow”, and do your best to enjoy this special gift of time you’ve been blessed with. I credit this advice to a very good article in BPHopeMag at https://www.bphope.com/blog/obsession-future-mindset/ I recently read. Best wishes to you and yours. You got this!
Nothing much to add, but she is so lucky to have parents like you. If it isn’t right for her, you’ve empowered her enough that she will use her voice and tel you, and you will come up with another solution as a family. Kudos to all of you, and best of luck!!!
I was bullied something fierce in high school and decided to do homeschooling. By high school I had a group of friends, primarily met outside of school. I was doing it through the school district so it was structured. It also let me work at the pace which I wanted (which was a lot faster than it would have been in school). I am a college graduate, so it did not hurt me there (I did the community college to university route in sociology so it doesn’t help me at all in the “real world”). I am 41 now, and sometimes I regret not having a prom or any of the other high school rites of passage but it is not very often.
I think for younger kids (elementary and probably middle school) it is better to send them to school. It helps them develop social skills that will be needed later in life. Teaches them how to work in groups and how to interact with many people in acceptable ways. I tend to notice that the “weird” home school kids are just socially awkward because they have been home-schooled throughout their entire education. By high school though, kids know what is acceptable norms and behaviors, regardless if they apply them. They have learned how to work with others (for the most part). They have learned how to make friends.
I am sure at this stage in her education your daughter will thrive. It will help her focus on her schoolwork and other interests without the added stress and pressure of having to deal with all the baggage that comes with high school.
Do want she wants. My parents insisted I stay in Catholic school until I finished 8th grade. It was the worst decision for me. Homeschooling has so many groups now that do meet ups.
I am sure she will thrive in a way that would have been next to impossible in a regular school. Homeschooling seems to be particularly suited for creative kids, bc they seem to get so throttled in the educational system. If you can find community programs for her, as many as she’s interested in, then she will be socializing with ppl of all ages who share one of her interests, rather than a group of kids who happen to be her age and live in her school district. Now she’ll be free to fly, which is naturally a little scary, but she’ll find her feet in no time.
Wishing you all the best, and Hailey, too.
One of the most talented, brilliant, kind-hearted, driven artist and solopreneurs I know was homeschooled and he turned out just fine (more than fine, actually), so I think this is a good move for Hailey and it would be great if Nowhere Bookstore doubled as a study group meeting place for The Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings (where I would have happily “enrolled” my own Gifted Strangeling had it been an option).
Frequent reader, rare commenter. I think this is a great decision. I was not homeschooled, but I was schooled in a school for quirky nerds and it made such a difference to me – not because of the school itself exactly, but because it was right. I will give you the advice I give my own teen who is entering a special program — it’s all about figuring life out as you go along. Making a choice that isn’t the norm/standard/whatever feels fraught because it seems like a big change — but the fact is, staying in a traditional school is just as profound a choice, we just are accustomed to following that path more.
So I celebrate the choice you’re making and I feel confident that if your fears come true — say it is isolating socially or something (although really, there are so many ways to be social), well, then you’ll either figure out how to address that, or you’ll make a change at that point. I wish you and Hailey all the joy as you go through this new experience together.
I was a public school teacher and I have had my teenagers in public schools; large, prestigious private schools; small, earnest private schools; a nationally renown public magnet school for the arts (Go Hailey! Go Artsy Kids!) and boarding at a meh boarding school 15 minutes from our house ( its a long story but everyone there loved our kid, they just thought we were giant weirdos as parents).
Out of all of that, I would have homeschooled everyone once they hit high school. For motivated, creative kids with supportive parents, I think it always offers so many more perks and opportunities like all of the ones you mentioned. The only reason I didn’t homeschool mine was because I would have had to tranq-dart them like rampaging hippos and then have kept them secured in the basement for the duration. My husband was all “that’s counterproductive” and “your insane, stay away from the children” so I had to let the dream die.
If you think it’s right and Hailey is enthusiastic, homeschooling can’t be the wrong decision. And if you both hate it by December, you can always enroll her in public or private. Public has to take her and private schools always have open seats for the right kid, even if they don’t advertise it.
You DO know her better, and are ABSOLUTELY doing the best thing for her. I was not able to homeschool my daughter (my ex was a shitty parent and an even shittier provider), and I needed that option. Even though she is brilliant, she HATED school….started refusing to go. The school was NOT helpful at all. When I went to them for assistance, they just blew us off, shamed us, etc.
She was not able to verbalize why she was so unhappy, and it almost ended with her losing her life. She attempted suicide, and spent a week in a hospital while I waited to see if her organs were going to shut down. We were lucky, and she recovered. Then began a year or so of desperately trying to find a therapist or pyschiatrist who would refrain from bible-thumping and judgment (Texas) and would take insurance…..never did find one.
I finally left my husband, and discovered a place called The Montrose Center in Houston that took insurance, worked on a sliding scale, and were not judgemental asses. I began taking her to therapy there, and the change in her was immediate and incredible. After her first therapy session, I cried…. because she looked lighter, and I realized she felt happy and hopeful –for the first time in YEARS.
She came out to me as trans 6 months later, and has now been transitioning for about a year.
Do not ever doubt your parenting instincts. Mine saved my daughter.
I’m so glad I discovered you a few years ago – I’ve loved your books, blog, social media accounts etc. Your openness and honesty is refreshing. And you allowing us to get to know Hailey has been amazing… I have a teenager and I understand the angst that comes with all the decisions that face this age! As much as I can know you and Hailey from afar, she seems to be one of the most genuine, thoughtful and driven kids I have seen! I believe she will thrive with this new plan for many reasons – including the amazing support you and Victor have always shown her. For years, I had a negative opinion of home schooling – as some kind of cult like community. But as I have become a parent and gotten to know many others who have home schooled their kids, I have completely changed my mind. Going to a traditional, public/private school does not guarantee social skills at all. I think there are many values to both traditional type schools and home schooling – no model can fit all. Successful home schooling is no small task – and it sounds like you have done your research and picked a great plan. It is normal to be nervous but my gut tells me this is the right plan for her, and if its not, she (and you guys) can always re-evaluate.
You are her best advocate. You make your decision with live and it will be the right one.
Well, I was neither homeschooled, nor am I in Texas to recommend local groups. What I did stop in to recommend is to let Hailey create her own groups when Knowhere opens (or before. That just would give a good venue). From what you’ve shared of her, she is a strong leader with enough confidence to start something from scratch that would help herself and others. Maybe it would be a Junior Bloggess Book Club. Maybe a creative writing group or choir, band, drama club, improv club, or just an open mic night. Or, maybe it could be all of those thinga. Or none.
I guess what I’m saying is that she’s going to be okay. I think this sounds like a great opportunity for her, rather than you sheltering or socially crippling her. As long as she’s excited about learning and interacting with the world, you’re absolutely doing the right thing 🙂
Unfortunately I don’t have any advice to give regarding music or theater, but as a teacher and someone who had her own rough time, I 100% support you and think this is a great decision you will make the best of. I often cringe at hearing parents say they will homeschool because I know it isn’t right for their kid/situation, but I know this will be wonderful for her and YOU will be wonderful for her!
Come check out Gifted Homeschoolers Forum on facebook. We have a great discussion group, and there are classes taught by folks who understand gifted kids (often because they were one, or because they are parenting one). Homeschooling can be scary, but it can also be absolutely amazing.
This is crazy-amazing, Jenny, and I love you to the moon.
As someone who has homeschooled her kids all along (currently they’re 13 and 10), I can tell you how wonderful it can be. Yes, there are struggles, but it is so, so worth it. Also, there are soooo many opportunities for homeschoolers. My kids have tried sailing, volunteering at a local farm, 3D printing classes, frog dissections, and a million other cool things. If homeschooling works for your family (and I think it will), it’s a great way of life. And your quote, “Whatever decision you make will be the right one for your kid. Because you know your kid better than anyone else.” is absolutely spot on. You know what she needs, and you’re giving it to her. Because you rock! You got this, Mama!
Hailey is BRAVE and BRILLIANT and she’s going to do just fine!
When we lived in Austin my, then 13 now 26 year old, daughter did the School of Rock. I believe it was eight weeks and she LOVED it. Culminated in a two song set on stage at Antoines. I imagine San Antonio has something similar.
Having raised two girls to adulthood successfully, here’s my advice: do all things with your love of her in mind, listen to her, trust her to point herself the perfect direction.
Your mom’s advice is awesome. My neighbour was thinking of home school for her son and asked me for my advice (I’m a retired teacher). I told her to do what she thinks is right for her and for her son. And….if you decide at some point that it’s not working for you or for him, YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND. Nothing is written in stone. If six months from now, or three years from now the home school option isn’t working for one or both of you, you can choose another path.
Absolutely do what you feel is best for your child ! I would have homeschooled my son except I wasn’t able to financially. It would have been better for him , and he’s doing well now – getting married in September. But if I’d been able to it would have been best – my point is, if your gut feeling is this is the best choice , then it is. You’re the Mom and you just know
I’ve homeschooled my daughter the whole way through, we start high school next year too. It’s been a good fit for her. We plan to keep going through graduation. You got this, you listen to Hailey and take her needs into account. So it will work out. The social stuff with work itself out, you said she’s got lessons, workshops and camps, I’m sure she’ll be able to build some relationships there. And online friends can be pretty great and fulfilling too.
The teenage years are so hard. I think you are making the right decision for her. Traditional school can be so hard on brilliant, talented students. Just hang in there and know it will all work out for you guys!! We all love you!
My daughter just finished her Associates’s Arts degree at our local community college – at 15. We pulled her from the structured curriculum setting she was in (a homeschool co-op structured like a private school) in 9th grade and let her choose classes she was interested in. It worked out great, and she is headed to the University of North Texas this fall to get a Bachelor’s in art or photography. We don’t regret the decision at all. Texas has very easy to live with homeschool rules. We basically focused on passing the TSI tests and then the SAT. If you can get through those, you won’t have any problem with college courses. Good luck!
My advice is not really advice. Middle school is like being thrown in a den full of wild Tasmanian devils. High school is usually better. But some times it’s good to take time to explore yourself and that can make things so much easier. She’s going to do great.
Being home schooled helped me immensely socially. I was in public school through the middle of ninth grade, and I spent the first part of they year dealing with depression and being terrified of getting noticed (not for being depressed, just for, like, existing). Getting to step away from that and work through my issues without also having to face the gauntlet of high school every day was amazing. I had my close friends and a few great activities, and it was exactly what I needed.
I don’t know Texas, so this may not be helpful. But I’m a Youth Librarian (babies through teens) in upstate NY at a public library and I can tell you all the homeschooling families in the area and, generally speaking, if their choice is for religious reasons or if they’re into Waldorf or whatever in my community, because homeschoolers USE the library! Privacy is a serious thing at public libraries, but when families new to homeschooling or new to homeschooling in our area come to me, I have a long list of resources to share, including groups that meet both at the library and in other places in our community. I also know the philosophical bent to the groups that have them guiding their meetings etc. in that way I can help them connect with other families or kids, and also help them avoid issues they don’t need in their lives. Also, if you have a good teen or youth librarian, he or she will likely be psyched to help Hailey START a teen group with a particular theme. Example, recently a teen started an LGBTQ+ themed book club for teens at our library (with some help from me for promotion, book collection and distribution etc) but they run it and it’s brought teen readers from the wider area. If a teen came to me and wanted to start a music group, I’d be really psyched. So I guess I’m saying, try your public librarians.
La vie trouvera son cours. Means life will find its own way. I’m 75 and I can vouch it is so. 😉
Check out the library to see if they have any reading clubs for kids her age. Might be another, low-key option for social stuff.
Jenny, I taught high school for 10 years, including being the drama coach. I had over 2 decades of theatre work, college and community, including being mentored by award winning playwright Mark Medoff. And I’m gay. So if I can help you or Hailey in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m here for all three of you.
(We met briefly at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, so you’ve seen me in person and know that while I’m nuts, I’m still in the acceptable range. Dunno if you remember it, but I certainly do!)
And yeah, you’re making the right decision. It’s all good.
In the California desert, just down the hill (east) from Big Bear, there is a public high school for home schooled kids. Check it out for ideas & look into (charter?) schools started by parent co-ops. Often they are kindred spirits facing similar dilemmas.
The CA public HS option was unique to me. I wanted to work there. Parents like you could send their kid to just one class (like computer programming or math) or the child could simply participate in the extra curricular activities like choir or sports teams. They had a partnership with NASA JPL so kids did analysis of actual data for science.
Look around and you’ll be amazed at all the options out there. Good luck!!
She sounds like an amazing kid with an amazing mom. I grew up in a tiny rural town in the 70s and 80s where my dad was a high school teacher and my mom was the public librarian. Everybody knew them, everybody knew me, and they made sure I suffered for it. My parents’ daily response over 13 years of bullying, K-12? “Just ignore them.” What I wouldn’t have given for any one of the homeschooling or online education programs that are available today. Kudos to you for being open to options and having the courage to choose a different path.
Wrapping my arms around you fellow mama. We all worry about our kids no matter what. It’s rule one of being a parent, even for parents of kids who don’t seem to struggle. My kiddo is one of these old souls who is very sensitive, has a heart of gold, chose a life of massive challenges, and due to his mental health, I had to pull my son out of school halfway through seventh grade, 2 1/2 yrs. ago. After trying medications for his ADHD twice in five years with no success, and being a year into trying meds for crippling anxiety with very limited success, I’m so ready to throw in the towel and run off to Tahiti. Just to make things even more interesting, he’s got learning disabilities. So I do what I can, cry on a regular basis, and pray for the day when he’s older, no longer a teenager, and is hopefully living independently. My mantra is, this won’t be forever. The hard stuff won’t be forever.
You’re making the right decision for right now . One thing that might be possible is that she might be be able to take part in some school activities even if home-schooled. Where I live in Fairfax County (Virginia), parents forced the school district to allow their kids to participate in after-school activities and teams. If you think about it, it makes sense. They’re paying taxes, so why not!
Take a good, clear look at what the “social aspect” would really mean if she stayed in public school, spending most of her time surrounded and influenced by other teens. Then take a good, clear look at what she would be learning by being in and interacting with society as a whole as a homeschooler. I hope that helps you drop any remaining guilt about “stunting her development”.
It sounds like you are doing the absolute right thing for your family.
And when will you have school spirit wear for Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings??
I am the headmistress of the St. Boggess School for Exceptional Boys. Our enrollment is two students, both marvelous, challenged and atypical. I agonized for a long time before we pulled the trigger. Now, six months later, NO REGRETS. It’s possibly the best thing we’ve ever done for our family. It sounds like it’s going to be amazing for Hailey. Good on you for finding the right path for her rather than trying to make her conform to the obvious path.
There are few big decisions that have as easy a do over option as choosing the wrong school. Try homeschooling, embrace it, and if it isn’t what you want, just enroll back in school. The potential rewards outweigh the minuscule risks 1000%.
Sounds like your sister has already blazed the trail so she’ll be a resource so you’re not going it alone, and I’m sure the Univ. of Texas won’t let you down. Congrats, Hailey, for diving into a great opportunity.
Your mom is right. You make the best choice for the child you know. You support. And if something changes, you make a different choice. This one isn’t set-in-stone-forever-and-ever. You’re doing great.
I can’t speak to the aspect of removing kids from school, my kids have only been homeschooled, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way. It’s scary at first, and sometimes frustrating, but so worth it IMO.
As far as socializing, which was a huge worry for me, my kids have a more active social life than I do. Libraries are AMAZING as far as homeschool stuff (groups and activities). Facebook tends to have a lot of localized homeschool groups to get together for groups, resources, field trips, and even swapping or selling books and stuff.
Homeschool is really about freedom. The freedom to focus on subjects of interest, to learn at the speed of the student because every kid is different, field trips, extra time for hobbies or businesses, there really is no limit.
I don’t post on anything like this…ever…but this is such an important thing and you need to know you are doing the right thing for her right now. I currently have a 14 AND 13 year old and while one is social, one struggles at times with awkwardness. I’ve told him flat out many times if it gets too hard and he wants to start online classes just say the word. He’s a quirky, kind and sensitive kid but as you know by now kids can be mean! Let her be home and find who she is. Nothing wrong with that. There’s no rule that she can never go back if she decides the time is right again to give it a try. I would have been so relieved to have that option in high school. As a mom…you’re the bomb!
I love this! We have 2 daughters and my oldest just graduated Saturday from a homeschool program. My husband was homeschooled for high school and it had always been an option for us. My oldest started experiencing bullying in 5th grade and asked to try homeschooling. We started her in 6th. My youngest is a little different and had a difficult time fitting in from pre-K on. School was a bit torturous for her. We planned on keeping her in the brick and mortar school until 6th but felt it would be best to just pull her out. She started homeschooling in 3rd grade. We had some hard moments. Teaching her multiplication and division was pretty difficult but I also experienced great joy when she got the concepts.
They were in dance for many years. This year the oldest started singing lessons and the youngest has been taking violin lessons for 2 years. They have many friends and I’ve never worried that they wouldn’t have enough social time. We love having them around and being able to take vacations throughout the year. My oldest started volunteering at the library at 13 and then was hired part time at 15 1/2 and is now learning Japanese with plans to eventually move to Japan. The youngest is in the process of applying to volunteer at the zoo. So many opportunities can become available when you have the extra time. I’m sure she will thrive and y’all will love it!
My girl is 12 and we recently made the move to actually medicate her anxiety that got out of hand. We changed her schools after bullies in 4th grade, so we already fought THAT battle. I debate with myself on whether public school is still too much, what I can do to make things easier for her.
It’s always a struggle between “How much do I try to make her life normal?” and “Does she really need all the problems that come with attempted normalcy?”
But your Mom’s advice is dead on. Mental Health is a struggle we all fight alone to some extent, but as long as you are there for Hailey to help her get through everything, and as long as you listen to her needs and dreams, you’re doing everything right.
Good luck with home school! You can do it.
Great advice from your mom. My mom recently told me that I should call my son’s college and talk to his professor that gave him a failing grade. Um. That is bad mom advice. I prefer good mom advice.
Well, as a high school drop out who eventually pieced together a bachelor’s degree, I can tell you this would have been an amazing option for me, had it been available! Hailey has the chance to truly make her own way, and THAT is what life is really all about. Best of luck to her. She is a talented young lady, and she’s so lucky to have a loving and supportive family. Hugs to all of you.
I homeschool my 16 year old, we’ve done 8th, 9th and are just finishing up 10th. I was also homeschooled for all of high school. It allows for them to get the extra sleep they need, have some schedule flexibility and pursue interests. Now, my kid struggles with her learning. But even though it’s not easier homeschooling- it is allowing her room to have her needs be met. I do not regret the work for a minute. And the time with her has been amazing. We are so weird together. Advice is just to find a path and follow it, you’ll find something along the way 🙂 learning or monsters who become friends. Something.
Your daughter is lovely. She will help you make the right parenting decisions, and you’ll help her make growing up decisions. I believe she is sensible. That’s a big plus. Love to you both.
Jenny—that is one brave girl … who is being raised by one brave mom. That performance. Wow. Trust her, she does know what she needs. And trust yourself. It IS scary as fuck, but I’m going to tell you what I think…this is going to be exactly the year Haley needs and deserves. ❤️
No matter what you choose you will always wonder what the other possibilities would have become. This sounds like the best choice for this time. I’m sure it will be great.
No local advice but homeschooling is gonna be so great for Hailey. And the best thing about it is if the way you first try it doesn’t work out, you can try a different way, and another different way, til you find your perfect fit. And when/if it becomes just not the right thing for her you can just go back to regular school. Good luck Hailey! You know we’re all rooting for you.
Just think, her literature class can basically be the Bookshop. And math. And economics. And and and. Have her write book reviews so you can put them up in your shop as Hailey’s Hearsay, Hailey’s Haunt, Hailey’s Handbag, Hailey’s Headline
Hailey being homeschooled sounds like a good plan. You and Victor are doing the best for Hailey. Keep up the good work!
We are also changing schools for our son this year and when it came down to it, my son still gets his dad and me as parents so…you know. Win! Your sweet, beautiful, talented and brilliant daughter will have YOU and Victor as her guide (despite his lack of understanding the vital need of a 5′ tall chicken). Anyway, let me know if you ever find the off button for the mom-worry brain. I’d order that off Amazon in a hot second. 🙂
I think you have to just trust your gut and it sounds like you know this is the right choice for now. Also keep in mind that this is not an irreversible decision. If she wants to go back to a traditional school, it will still be there.
Just so delighted to be Haley’s internet auntie. Many good wishes to you three on this next adventure!
I was homeschooled 1st grade through kindergarten, and while I have a lot of mixed feelings about my adolescences and how i was raised, this Strangeling had no help from parents for tough mental health/being a queer kid/being artistic and even still I know that being homeschooled helped me in those years. The freedom to explore, the ability to not be forced to spend so much emotion and energy dealing with other kids (being sent to girl scouts was tough enough for me!) — I didn’t have a choice, but unless an art academy or Hogwarts had suddenly recruited me, I never would have chosen to attend the public or private schools in my area. I learned a lot of really weird stuff. I spent one year writing a novel about Vikings and hand making Viking clothing and other things. I spent hours that I told my mom I was studying biology writing really dramatic, dark science fiction and joining AOL role playing boards. And those things saved me. And I got scholarships to college, have a master degree, paid off my undergrad debt, and have a lucrative career. If Hailey is on board, you are making such an amazing decision for your family.
The teenage years are so rough, especially for LGBTQ kids and artsy kids and weird kids and kids that feel too much. I would have given so damn much to have parents that knew I was any of those things, that validated those things, and that made choices for me based on those things. My child self thanks you, and my adult self thanks you too. I’m so blown away watching this next generation of kids grow up and watching the way they are parented. Today’s teens are one hell of a generation and I cannot wait to see what they do.
Jenny, please come join us at Free Mom Hugs and Free Mom Hugs – Texas (both on FB). Also, you can join the Mama Bears through Serendipitydodah to be part of a closed group just for LGBTQ moms. Lots of good resources and information and SUPPORT there. Link to join us at https://serendipitydodah.wordpress.com/
Feel free to check out Free Mom Hugs on the website https://www.freemomhugs.org/
You are not alone. Your daughter is not alone. If I’ve learned anything from your blog and books, it’s how much you love your family. We all know you’ll fight to do what you feel is best. Well love you.
Boerne Community Theater has an amazing Teen Troupe. They are so supportive and inclusive. They put on a straight play and a musical each year, do lots of community service, and travel each summer to the state community theater gathering/competition. My daughter was a member for 6 years, and made some of her best memories there. You and Hailey should really consider checking it out.
(Checking it out now! ~ Jenny)
You do what’s best for your daughter and she will be fine.
I faced a similar situation when my daughter was going through a rough patch at the end of her sophomore, beginning of junior year of high school. My daughter was going through school refusal(form of anxiety) and depression. We were advised by her truancy officer to try online home school as an alternative. As a single mom, I was overwhelmed and wanted her to “try to be resilient” because that’s what the real world demands. Plus, there’s a huge pressure on high schooler’s & parents to “follow the path” to get to college. I wanted to do the right thing by her. In the end, her attendance was out of control & we decided to try the online home school for her junior year. It was THE BEST decision we did! This allowed her to work at her own pace, learn better time management, go to therapy weekly, and gave her the space and time to heal and become emotionally stronger. She was able to catch up academically, heal and resolved to go back to her brick & mortar school for her senior year and walked with her class. She’s now in a local college & doing better academically than she did in high school.
There’s so many paths and opportunities available to our children now than ever before. As long as you are making your choices with love & listening to your collective guts, y’all will be ok. Hang in there, it’s going to be just fine.
Totally agree that you know your kid the best and therefore you know the best thing to do for her. Suggestion — Look up Secular Homeschooling in your area (and on Google, Facebook, etc) for groups that aren’t homeschooling for religious reasons. Also, in my area a lot of charter schools and homeschooling co-ops have regular times at local art and music schools. (They’re usually between 10-2, while the regular school kids are in school. Which makes sense for the schools, too, to maximize the time and space.) Our junior college also has a lot of options for high school students — both though their community learning and pre-college programs. In my experience, home-schooled kiddos often have more chances for social interactions than regular schooled kids.
I am very much in favor of home schooling. If your child is self-motivated and creative – as Hailey clearly is – school can be a stifling influence. As for socialization, home schooled kids grow up with a self confidence that serves them well in their adult lives. Go for it!!!❤️
Try it. If you hate it, try something else. It will all be ok if the people you love have your back. People say life s short and in some ways it is, but it’s also long. You have time. Try stuff. Change your mind and try other stuff. Don’t let other people set your deadlines for you. Hell, don’t set any deadlines! We’re in the land of the free and the home of the brave so be free and be brave. Go nuts! I’m rooting for you.
I have to say I’m really proud of you for this decision. I honestly think some kids really could benefit more from homeschooling but some parents just can’t/won’t make that decision. You see what seems to be best for Hailey at this time and you are pushing forward with it, and I’m so happy for her and for you.
I was not homeschooled, but in high school I ended up in an ‘alternative education’ setting after my mental issues became too much to handle at school. It was the best thing that could’ve happened at that point, I went from desperately trying to ‘hide’ in multiple classrooms of 30+ students to forming a sort of ‘family’ in a classroom of 7 wonderful students. The one-on-one opportunities that came with such a small class-size were so valuable to me, and I think homeschooling can be the same in that regard.
My daughter did two years of online school at that exact age. I feel like it saved her. Hailey (or what I know of her from your words) reminds me of my 17 yr old daughter an incredible amount. I am learning to stop punishing myself for the guilt and shame that has seeped into me at the thought that I am failing the most basic “tests” of parenthood–getting my kid through five days a week of school whether they like it or not. My brain knows it is not that simple and I am not actually failing her, but holy crap we are hard on ourselves. I just thought you should know you aren’t alone if you are feeling that shame thing. And also, do it. It is beyond right for our type of kid at that age in their lives. I am pretty sure it would’ve been right for our type of selves too. 💕
The song was amazing. I love this kid. I raised one who didn’t always make the best choices. It was hard but I didn’t interfere unless it effected her her health or safety. She is 36 and amazing. Would I like some do overs? Sure who wouldn’t? This young woman is going to be just fine. Love her, eye roll when necessary, and don’t sweat the small stuff? I learned to ask myself, whether or not “whatever” would matter in 5 years? If the answer was yes, I got involved.
This will be the third year I’ve homeschooled my son. He is also 14, and I would love to tell you it’s definitely the right decision, but I second guess myself daily. I CAN tell you, however, my son is hilarious, kind, smart, and the most caring child you will ever meet. If losing some socialization keeps him from being a little asshole like other kids his age… I will let him take the L.
A good friend of mine is a homeschool teacher here in south west Canada. Our school district runs a homeschool program for teacher support, and the kids meet up a couple of times a week with the teacher. We have a few friends who are students in the homeschool program as well. We can connect you if you want.
Staying home sounds like a great choice & it’s not like exploratory surgery – you aren’t going to do any harm! Plus, she can always change her mind & start classes at a school too! I wish I would have given my kids this choice!
This is NOT the wrong decision! It is perfect 💜 Hailey is going to be a brilliant adult because she is a brilliant kid. This will allow her so many more opportunities, tailored just for her. I’m excited for her & for you, that you will get to share in her educational adventure!!.
I think that if this is her desire/decision and you’re supporting her, it will be fine! That’s what it sounds like, not “we’re forcing her to leave school and stay in with us”, which would be different, not really good. But this is something you test out together. It will be fine! And if it isn’t, you can try something else
Gifted & Talented children are often a little more difficult to parent effectively, because they see so much, process so much, and have questions/concerns that aren’t mentioned in most parenting manuals. Most states have an organization concerned with the education of gifted and talented students, and there is usually a parent group associated with them. The parent group is not only a way to help support bright learners, but also to help each other find ways to parent best, to connect with others experiencing similar thing. Texas has one, and the link is here:
I am so excited for you all! Homeschooling sounds like the perfect choice for Hailey; she can set her own schedule and goals, and make time for the things she really wants to focus on. I homeschool both of my kids, and even though they are little, it gives us so much freedom. I don’t have any local resources for you, but want to say a.)she already has friends, so part of the “socialization” battle is already won and b.) don’t feel like you NEED to join a group or a co-op, especially if there are few around. Just take some time to get used to what you want to do, and try not to stress about it. There are a ton of online homeschool support groups out there too, that can give you ideas when you need them. <3!!
IT IS THE RIGHT DECISION!
I have a 6yr old, and we’re struggling with the same decision (and a lot of practicalities that makes it impossible full time right now) and I have doubts non stop. But every time I am sane I remember that the school system only seems “good” and “normal” because we’ve been told so our entire life. And I know that like me you KNOW that it’s not right for your kid. And your kid knows. Otherwise you would not even have considered this weird and scary and wonderful option. You are a wonderful parent for letting your child fly.
Hooray for homeschool! We managed fine. It kept my kid alive. Even as a single parent without using a structured curriculum…still fine. We are in TX, not religious at all, and there were plenty of non-religious homeschool opportunities near us (though my kid mostly liked doing her own thing.) she is decorating her grad stole to say “Fuck This Shit” (home ceremony, obvs)
Best wishes to you all
Hailey is lucky to have you as her parents, and you are lucky to have Hailey as your daughter. About homeschooling: Go, Headmistress Lawson!
How I desperately wish I had had the option to do homeschool, especially for 9-12th grade. Being a fat, quiet, smart, weird kid in a huge highschool full of skinny cheerleaders and popular sports stars was excruciating. Looking back I was also clinically depressed and overwhelmed with anxiety, but my parents’ view was that school was my “job,” and they hated their jobs, but they had to go to work anyway, so by god I was going to go and they didn’t want to hear any complaints, because my “job” was so much easier than their jobs. My mental health was never spoken about except when I was told to stop being so sensitive and dramatic.
Effed up way of looking at things for sure. I never went to dances or prom (I asked 7 guys to senior prom and they all said no and 2 of them laughed). I found a great college that was exactly what I needed and found my true self then, but I wasted so much time trying to fit in and not be noticed until I got there.
My younger brother also had issues with public school, he is brilliant but got poor grades and did a lot of drugs. At that point my parents stopped caring and just let him do whatever. He has been to 3 colleges and finally finished a degree while working full-time with 2 kids.
Neither of us lived up to the expectations that we would become a doctor (me) or a materials engineer (him) and I really think that my life would have been infinitely better if I could just have stayed home and done an online program. I was reading adult level books when I was 8 and I had so much potential that was stamped out by the supposedly helpful social situation at school.
Hailey will thrive, of this I am sure. You are a great mom. Thank you for listening to your daughter and believing her. This will make all the difference.
You have put together a super solid plan for Hailey! She’s smart and creative (the apple didn’t fall far) and this will open her to opportunities and experiences she could never get in school. You have academic support from UT, she has a chance to work at her own fast pace and start college early, while working on her own art, supporting her community, and learning in the world! She’s so lucky! You are amazing parents! You hooked her up! Do not second guess yourself! And the best part – you and she are free to change your minds at any time!
Kelly was home schooled in the cab of big rig truck and did well. You’re doing the right thing!
Not sure if you will be reading this far down, but you do know your kid best.
My 14 yr old daughter did online school this semester… we had to follow through with the promise of consequences for her actions, so it was not as pleasant of an experience in the beginning… but then she began to thrive. It may have been the therapy, less pressure from school, less distraction from her peers, or her mom (me) as Head Master :-), pushing her and showing her how to be successful with online work. She is thriving. She wants to go back to public school next semester – freshman in high school. After seeing her thrive, I am now nervous about her going back… but consequences have been satisfied. All we can hope for is that she will learn from this experience… and we will continue to support her as she goes along.
Good Luck! I know you and Hailey got this, and she will thrive!
Hailey is so lucky! I wish home-schooling had been an option back in the early 60s – I was bullied from the day I started kindergarten and the teachers said it was my fault for being different. School was an absolute misery.
As someone that was homeschooled – it probably would have been a great option for smart weirdos minus the religious indoctrination and patriarchy. Since you’re not doing the religious thing, and think social opportunities are actually important, I’m sure Hailey will do well!
I am sure she will excell – she’s a great kid and her mom’s not too bad either. 🙂
Wow. I can’t believe how fabulous this sounds for Hailey and your family. I would have loved this opportunity, and I know you’re going to do the absolute best by her. Congrats on surviving a tough year and I look forward to reading about the wonderful albums, musicals, and travels that Hailey has in the future! You are the best mom.
I thought Highschool at its best was boring and at its worst cruel. Someone should report it to CPS. I’m glad Hailey has an alternative option and a Mom open to exploring them. two thumbs up.
Our girl was a child actress from age 6-14. and as such was largely schooled on set under our supervision. This was her passion so we supported her choice just as you are supporting your talented , fabulous kid. We got a lot of flak along the way from outside observers …. don’t listen!! Our now grown woman graduated from Baylor with 4 degrees and is a heart failure / heart transplant specialist. The life experience and self confidence she gained from her “unconventional “ upbringing gave her a skill set that would not have been available in a “traditional” setting. Bless you for listening to your daughter’s heart ,allowing her to build her wings so she can soar into her future!! Please order me a Lawson Academy sweatshirt … size large. Go team!!
I was homeschooled in Texas by parents who wanted it for the same reasons you do. When a kid can get through subjects quickly and has extra time to live and do and see and experience, many of them (including me) are the better for it. I started dual credit classes at 14 part-time and 16 full-time. I ended up going through college relatively quickly (still loved it, still had amazing experiences, went to a huge school), and then went to law school; working my dream job now. I’m outgoing and my parents put me in a million activities, and it sounds like you have similar thoughts. I tell you this chapter of my story just so you know that it is entirely possible to be social, well-adjusted, friendly, kind, educated, and full of experiences as a homeschooler (I might be half of those things if I’m lucky, but I think my parents did a fab job). Please feel free to ping me if I might be able to help. I’m 12 years older than Hailey and if my experience can be any perspective or of use, I’m happy to share more. Thanks for letting me ramble. You’re going to do great.
When I was pregnant I received some great parenting advice that I’ve remembered well through all the years. “Do not try to be the perfect parent – because you won’t be. Be good enough.” Sounds like the path is the right one for Hailey right now
Great for Hailey! Good for you Jenny! And best of luck to you and your family! Hailey will be fine, kids are resilient.
I feel like boredom is the death of genius. So anything you can do to keep Hailey’s mind engaged and keep her full of questioning and wonder is a good thing. Traditional school isn’t for everyone. And if she’s anything like her mother, she’s pretty much already outpaced what high school can (academically) throw at her.
I think your (and her) plans for the near-term future are phenomal ones. It sounds like she’s not only going to get the education she should have, she’s going to have a lot of opportunity for a far richer and more well-rounded overall experience than any public school would be able to offer.
And, honestly, if Texas schools are anything like the schools in my area, they’re all mostly teaching the kids to take standardized tests – they’re not teaching them to learn, to be curious, to wonder, or to search for their own answers. If she’s not going to get those things by sitting in a classroom all day for four years, why make her suffer through it? Some kids need that. Some kids won’t get the basics without it. But Hailey (from all that you’ve said about her) has a brilliant and expansive mind and she is so very lucky to have parents who can recognize that and give her the freedom to explore it.
Good on you, for being brave. Good on you, for being willing to let Hailey spread her wings and fly.
Goodluck homeschooling! My kids are young, but have enjoyed homeschooling so far. The Facebook group Secular, Eclectic, Academic (SEA) Homeschoolers may be able to help you find a non-religious homeschool group in your area.
Yeah!!! I homeschooled my youngest for two years and it was a great learning experience for both of us. I think you will both love it and she will thrive!
Hi! I was homeschooled for many years and it was the best decision my parents could have made for me – academically and otherwise. Other than occasionally not getting a pop culture reference my peers would get, I’d say I’m pretty darn socialized. In fact, as a young person, I was very comfortable around people of all ages and I credit homeschooling with that. I would note that my brother was also homeschooled for a short time. It was the wrong choice for him because he isn’t self-driven and is more out-going, so my parents put him back in school – no harm, no foul. What you said is exactly right. If this doesn’t work, you’ll do something else. It’s all good. And I don’t know her of course, but I suspect that Hailey is the kind of woman who will thrive when given the freedom to do so.
High school can be wonderful or disastrous. Social bonds can be made for life or wounds inflicted that can take a lifetime to heal. You are doing everything you can to provide your daughter the education and social experiences that will be healthy, enriching, and maturing. I teach college at an Ivy. The home-schooled kids are some of the most interesting, curious, courageous and engaged students. They have learned to ask questions, expect thoughtful answers, and they aren’t afraid of their professors. They have learned to take responsibility for their own education because no one is spoon feeding it to them. The cons of home-schooling can be isolation and a narrow point of view (if parents are trying to “protect” their children from a wider world view).
You are a great mom and Victor is a great dad. She will shine in her own way.
Sounds like a great decision to me! (i’m kind weird though and not a parent so that it for what it’s worth) Every kid should be this excited to learn! Homeschoolers have so many more options these days and who knows? Maybe you can start a non-religious homeschooling support group. I’m sure you’re not alone.
btw is it bad that I’m a little envious of Hailey? If this were an option back in the 90s I’d probably be a much more confident person… Best of luck!
High school was the worst four years of my life. I absolutely hated them. I think if I had been homeschooled I would have had a better chance to keep my head on my shoulders, and not get pulled into some of the terrible social groups that showed me things like self-harm and giving into the darkness. That’s not to say i wouldn’t have still struggled with those things, but I would have had a safer space to explore other outlets.
You’re a badass momma, you got this!
Public School AP Psychology and College Prep teacher here. You’re doing the right thing, Mama Bear. Enjoy freshman year at a different pace, experiment with curriculum from UT and the national parks and Smithsonian and the library of Congress and the BBC and and and… Breathe. So many of my very broken kids needed time for their wings to heal before they fly off to adulting. You’re giving her that. Some of my kids go homeschooled for a year or two, some for all four—it is your family’s journey.
My friends 6 neices snd nephews were home schooled in a religious collective. They are the most thoughtful sincere typical young adults. Her nephew did a stupid college thing, told his parents that he needed money for books, then was caught on mtv spring break concert by his sister. We still laugh about kt. Hailey, will be more than fine. She loves you. More than anythibg and she wants what every great kid wants, to do what her mom is doing,in this case, be independently self employed. What better place to start than at home with you. This is exciting!!! So my friends nephew wanted to go to a highschool for his sr. Year, they found a small charter school. He graduated valedictorian of his sr. Class if 7, wich looked great ocollege applications. By the time he was 25 he had more money saved up thsn anyone i know. And he just got maeried. You, ny friend, have an amaxing journey ahead of you.
I wish I had been offered this opportunity. I count high school as pretty much four wasted precious years, trying to both fit into a predetermined mold, and equally trying to resist it. I could feel the mask being forced on my face, and I pushed and punched and kicked back as much as I could. I hope Hailey enjoys and utilizes her precious opportunity to the full.
I swear i can spell
I was homeschooling starting at age 15 in the beginning of 10th grade after begging my mom to let me be homeschooled since elementary school. I was similar to Hailey, smart, bored in class, and tired of all the dumb social stuff that comes with high school. I took high school classes through a state virtual school and then did dual enrollment where I went in person to a local community college. I loved it! I did community theatre and dance the whole time so I had plenty of socialization. You will do what is right for Hailey, but know that I never regretted what I got to do. 🙂
Your mom’s advice was perfect! Trust that you and your family made this decision thoughtfully and for all the right reasons. Of course some fear and anxiety will creep in – only natural when you are going outside the comfort zone/norm – but I wish for you that excitement and joy at the possibilities that are going to present themselves to Hailey, become the emotions that take the lead!
I am the Dual Credit Director at a community college and I see kids soar with a combination of homeschool and college classes. The college classes are challenging and the college environment is much more accepting of unique individuals. I think you are making a great choice for Hailey.
My kids are in Montessori and I always have to defend that decision to people….which I think is ridiculous! Especially because they’re always asking questions like, “How can your kid learn enough if they don’t have homework?” If your kid is motivated to learn, they will…..no matter where they are at. Props to you for deciding what was best for your child!
We have been homeschooling our daughters in CA for 9 years. We receive compliments from people all the time – cashiers, waitresses, their friends’ parents, neighbors, and now their co-workers, that they are lovely young women – polite, outgoing, funny. I think adults notice how they are different (engaged, compassionate) from other teenagers and that is because they are out socializing with people of every age, not stuck in a classroom with kids all the same age. There will be challenging moments, and you may be asked, by those who don’t understand, to defend your decision, but you are making the correct choice. I’m so happy for your family.
I totally wish her the best because from the past few years of reading your blogs and books and everything in between it is beyond clear that she can handle it and that she will also have a HUGE support system to do it and rock it. If anyone could do it, it would be you guys. Sending all the love!
First – GOOD FOR YOU to decide to do homeschooling. Second – check with your local Board of Education to see what activities Hailey can still participate in. Ask the local library what programs they have for Home Schooled kids. I teach (after my day job) at Hamden H.S. in Conn. We have a full theater department and have welcomed home school kids in. Had to ask the Board of Ed to verify the student really lived in town (Hailey going to public schools so far counts) but then they were just like all the other kids.
First, that song was beautiful.
Second, just like you said, whatever choice you make is the right choice for now. You can decide to change it at any time. It certainly sounds like Hailey is mature enough to deal with it, so GO FOR IT!
My son quit school half way through his senior year, my daughter finished high school a year early and went to college. Every one has their own path. Kids are so unique, they will lead you one way or another down the road that is right for them. Just be there, ever present in their life and support them, and live them with everything you’ve got…It will all be ok. My two kids are adults now and doing great, happy, smart, productive members of society. What more can a mother ask for! All the best to you and your family!!
Forgive me if someone else already said this, but we need a school tshirt for Lawson Academy….. I already know I will like whatever the graphic is.