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Help? Junior at public HS, depression, considering some/all homeschool.

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Hi everyone.


First let me say that we have homeschooled in the past (grades 3-4 while sailing) and had once thought we'd be sailing around the world, homeschooling, for our daughter's high school years. Alas the economy, etc, shattered that dream and, instead, we moved -specifically- to a school district with a "good" school system that had the gifted & talented programs she needed, and International Baccalaureate in high school.


Long story short: sophomore year she began to fall apart. In retrospect we suspect that because she was always so smart, she "coasted" and got A's without really trying, and that once academics ramped up in high school with honors classes, she was woefully unprepared, with no study skills, no time-management skills, didn't know how to ask for help, etc. This year -her junior year- she enrolled in the full-IB dimploma program, which is VERY academically rigorous, and the academic stress quickly became too much. She had a major breakdown and is now diagnosed with major depression, anxiety, and a bunch of other stuff. She has missed a ton of school, and getting through a day of school continues to be very difficult for her. The school has put her on a 504 plan to help with makeup work, math tutor, etc. They are initiating Special Ed IEP testing which may also help by providing a study skills tutor, etc.... but for the short term she's just unable to get through a full week of classes and homework, and is falling apart.


She's super stressed about it because she has her sights set on attending a selective college (Mount Holyoke is her dream) and she's terrified about how her GPA has slipped sooooooooo badly and she's had to drop 2 of her IB classes. College-wise, time is running out.... yet everyone has told us that serious depressions like this takes a long time to pull out of. We've realized that the most important thing for her right now is to recover and learn to manage these stressors, and I believe thats going to mean not attending full school days, at least for a while.


In trying to think outside the box and find possible solutions that wouldn't delay her graduation or hinder her already shaky chances of getting into the schools she likes even more, I'm exploring pulling her out of school at least part of the day. She does LOVE her IB Art class, and tolerates the Theory of Knowledge and even IB Honors biology (plus that's a lab class, so more difficult to homeschool I imagine!) So I'm wondering about having her attend those classes -all morning classes- and then finding alternative ways for her to complete the credits for her other courses:

IB/pre-AP Spanish IV

Advanced Math

some type of honors/AP/IB-level history or social studies class

some high-level English class (she is currently enrolled in IB English.)


Does anyone have experience with such a mixture of public/home school? Any advice?


What do you think are good ways to earn those credits? She might be interested in trying a local community college course; or online courses? What do you all think works best for a very smart, very creative kid with study skills/motivational issues?


If it helps, her recent PSAT scores were

77 critical reading (99%)

59 math (80%)

70 writing (98%)


She's a gifted creative writer, reads voraciously, highly artistic.... but hates math and dry academics.


I really appreciate any ideas. We're so at a loss right now and it's so heartbreaking watching such a smart and talented kid nosedive like this!!!!


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I totally get the IB insanity thing. I am pulling my very bright (HG), all As, but engineering oriented and dyslexic son out of an IB program at the end of the semester.


The only online IB courses that exist (Pamoja) require that the student be enrolled in an IB school, so if you keep her enrolled part time it might work. Unfortunately, I've found that online courses require better study skills than classroom based courses, so it may actually exacerbate her problem.


My son is going to be going the the CC full time beginning in spring quarter where he will take three classes each term. Part of the problem for him with IB is that there are so many classes to keep track of. Would dual enrollment be an option for her?


I would think that even if she stays in some of the IB courses and you homeschool everything else, the IB courses might take up all of her time, at least that's what would happen here.


I'm sorry this is rambling and disjointed. I don't really have any coherent advice, just sympathy!

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Thank you...

What is dual enrollment?


I don't think any online or home-schooled classes necessarily need to be IB. She's already (in the last 5 weeks) dropped 2 of her IB classes, so she's no longer "Full Dimploma" IB anyway. I would think she's want to keep the classes honors or AP level, though, since her "rigor of secomdary education" is so far strong and would hopefully counteract her decreased GPA in the eyes of the colleges.


I do think that the time management and study skills issue would be problematic with homeschool/online... however she's haveing such a problem with the intesity of the physical high school, and having shorter days there would help with that. She says she feels like overything's too loud, too bright, too MUCH at school and it makes her zone out and shut down. So she's physically sitting in the classroom but unable to concentrate. And sometimes it gets so bad she starts to shake and cry and needs to come home :(


But, yeah, I am apprehensive about homeschool/online because I know it'd fall on me to be nagging her to work on it all the time, and I do not like that dynamic.

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I'm sorry your daughter is struggling... I know this may not be a helpful thought but in a lot of ways I'd rather if a kid is going to hit depression that it happen during high school rather than during college. You are there to help her now and hopefully through this experience she will learn some skills that will help her long term.


My one big consideration for homeschooling a child with depression is always that families go into it with very clear expectations and limits and that some structure is provided. Depression + the need to self direct... that can be a disaster. Perhaps with a third party like a therapist, I'd try to work out with your daughter exactly what the plan will be for academics and for ongoing extracurricular involvement, getting out of the house, etc. With continuing some time at school this may be less of a concern, but totally leaving school for some kids with unresolved depression can just lead to a further, deeper retreat.


One other idea: I'm wondering if anyone has entertained adding an extra year to high school. Is that something you'd be open to? Would it help?

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If it were me, I'd probably try to concentrate on helping her beat the depression, and not worry very much about college applications at all at this point. I would be very reluctant to send a dc struggling with depression away to any college, let alone a high stakes, pressure cooker type. Plus, if she is having a really hard time with the distractions in a high school classroom, I can only imagine that life in a college dorm would be ..... unpleasant. If it will help her get healthy to lower the academic demands on her for the present time, maybe she could think about an alternate route to her favorite college? Around here, there is a 2+2 program that the CC runs --- when you begin classes at the CC, as long as you maintain an acceptable GPA you are guaranteed a spot in the program/transfer school you have chosen. Some of the partner schools are highly selective. Just a thought...... maybe you could just "get 'er done" for high school to ease the pressure while she gets healthy, and then she could pour it on at community college. Some of the brightest kids we know are doing it this way anyway and are saving a boatload of $$.


:grouphug: again.

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You have received some good advice and I have nothing to offer about working with IB courses, but I do know about depressed daughters.


Like your dd, mine began to struggle with depression her sophomore year. This seems to be a watermark year for many young people, both male and female.Like your daughter, my dd had never had to work too hard to get good grades except in math. We did discover that she was lacking in organizational skills and study habits after she began treatment for her depression. She worked with both a counselor and a psychiatrist to handle the medication part. Medicating teens is anything but an exact science and it is a bit like playing Russian roulette in trying to find the right medication.


She stayed in school through her junior year with a stellar first semester and an equally awful second semester. When we went to registration her senior year, she absolutely froze on the sidewalk outside the school and said, "I can't do this." There was no way she could go back into the building.She had learned to cope a bit with the shaking and tears the year prior by disappearing into the bathroom, but that had stopped working.


The road through a serious depression is a long one in our experience. Our dd has been off her medications for a year and still sees her therapist bimonthly. This is our fifth year of treatment and she is happy and thriving.


However, her senior year, when she came home, I really had to learn to let go of my own expectations. There is more than one way to get to your daughter's educational goal and it will take courage on both of your parts to let go and redirect.


Please be sure that she has been screened for anxiety. It is often underdiagnosed and depression is often over diagnosed. Our counselor was at odds with our psychiatrist on that part of the diagnosis. After two years, we ditched the "best children's psychiatrist in town," and went with a psychiatric nurse practitioner who immediately confirmed the counselor's anxiety diagnosis and began the process of weaning our dd off the depression meds that were actually exacerbating the anxiety and switched her to a far more effective medication.


Please, let your daughter heal. That really is the first priority. Mount Holyoke can't happen while she is so overwhelmed. It can happen, just not right now.


I hope this isn't too disjointed; it is still a rather raw subject even though I've been fairly open on this forum about dd's struggles (with her permission).


:grouphug: I can't think of a single person I would ever wish this experience on. My heart goes out to you, your dd, and your family. Please take good care of yourself. It is so easy to forget to do that while you are trying to hold everything together for her, but she needs you to be in one healthy piece. If there were do-overs, I would have sought counseling for the whole family much earlier than we did. A long-term depression affects not only the patient, but the whole family.


If you have any questions, please feel free to pm me.

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