Q: Hi, I have a 16 year old daughter who has struggled with school from basicly day one.She is in the 9th grade, I recently withdrew her from school looking for different alternative schools for her to attend, even thought about sending her away to job core. She is a very intelligent for her age and has always made good grades on her end of grade tests.She would fail all year and score high at the end of year.She doesn't like the classroom environment at all.She has been diagnosed with adhd around age 7 and we have tried medication several times but she is old enough now and refuses to take it. I am looking into homeschooling her in order for her to get her diploma.I have come across alot of websites that says that a ged or diploma is not required to get a great job but i have learned from experience that not having one makes it almost impossible to get a high paying job. I am 34 and dropped out at 15. My question is how to go about starting,and is there a certain amount of time it takes to homeschool her in order for her to receive a diploma? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
(Note: This question came from our "Ask Us" page.)
A: Hi Angel,
You've asked a lot of questions here, but it basically boils down to this one question: How do I help my daughter succeed?
There are several issues that you need to consider before you can find the answers to your concerns. The answers will most likely come from within you, and from your daughter's heart. The information you get here or anywhere is simply a way for you to find the answer you already have.
That said, your daughter, first and foremost, is smart, capable, and has everything she needs to succeed. Your job is to help her find that, not to tell her how to live or who to be. It's not a matter of grades, or ADHD, or whether you got a GED. Success is a matter of self-worth and self-appreciation. That comes from an attitude towards life and experience, not a piece of paper.
The main thing you want is your daughter to have experiences that reinforce the truth that she is capable and successful. In order to find those kinds of experiences, you need to listen. What excites her? What are her dreams? What does she like to spend her time doing? What makes her feel good? What kinds of successes does she seek out?
Then, do research into your resources - what's available in your area? Is college really the only thing she has available? What about a trade school? Volunteering? A job? A mentor? A work/study program? Starting her own business? Online courses? Self-study? Tutors? Study groups? The list goes on and on. Depending on what she wants to do, and what kind of learner she is, some of these options will be better suited than others. You won't know until you try.
Another important thing to remember is that failure is not failing. When we fail is the only real time that we have a chance to learn. Instead of looking at all of her "problems" as problems, see them as challenges, and opportunities. Because of what she's been through, you know what doesn't work. You know her better, and she knows herself better. You know to avoid those kinds of learning situations. Rather than look back at things that didn't work as a failure, look at them as opportunities to grow and move forward. And when the next roadblock comes along, look forward to it...it's part of the process. If we go through life only expecting success, we will always be unhappy and unsuccessful.
You said that you dropped out of school at 15. Did you get your GED? Did you get your diploma or go to community college? If not, I'm wondering if your transferring your disappointment of yourself onto your daughter. If so, be aware of this. It's really not that complicated to get a GED. It's also not difficult to get into community college. Your daughter is 16. She has plenty of time to get her GED or take a high school equivalency test (depending on your state). She can also start taking classes now at the community college, and online.
We are lucky to be living in the United States. In our country, there is no excuse for not being educated. Any age, any ability, and any interest, education is freely available. If you want your daughter to succeed, the best thing you can do is to adopt that kind of attitude yourself. You need to change your view on education, and on success, and find how your own life is full of wonderful opportunities to grow and learn. If you didn't get your GED, now is the time. Do it with your daughter. If you did get your GED, to back to school, or do a self-taught course. Be a role model, and make it clear to your daughter that no matter what, no matter how much we fail or stumble or waste time, we can ALWAYS set ourselves straight and learn more.
I promise, that although it might take time, it will be your attitude, and your attitude alone, that will be the biggest contributor to the whether or not your daughter's next two years of learning will be a success or failure. You are her mom, and her guide. If you get your educational act and attitude in a positive place, she'll see what it really takes to do that, and learn. If you spend all of your time telling her what she's supposed to do, and lecturing, but not living the example, she won't have any reason to believe you.
Don't be a model of what not to do. Be a model of what TO do. It's easier on both of you, and in the end, you'll both be happier.
Now, that didn't answer your question on whether to homeschool your daughter. In my opinion, it doesn't matter. If you have an attitude that life is full of wondrous learning opportunity, no matter where you go or what you do, you'll be successful.
If you do decide to homeschool her, I highly recommend joining a homeschool group in your state, and joining a Yahoo group for your state so that you can fully understand the legalities and responsibilities of a homeschool parent. If you are unwilling to do that on your own, I'd say stick with school.
Good luck to you! Happy learning, no matter which direction you choose to travel.
Tammy Takahashi lives and learns with her three children (10, 7 and 5) and supportive husband in California. She is the author of Deschooling Gently: A Step by Step Guide to Fearless Homeschooling. She also serves as the editor of the California HomeSchooler magazine, a bi-monthly publication for the Homeschool Association of California. You can read more from her about education and homeschooling on her website. And you can email her at tammy.takahashi @ gmail(dot)com.