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Pulling my tenth grader out of public school


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I have been on these boards for over a decade now.  For the first time, I sent a child of mine to a public high school last fall.  I had homeschooled my five older kids successfully but our circumstances changed so off he went.  Now he wants to come home.  He said he had been bullied.  Also his girlfriend broke up with him last weekend and told all their friends that they got in a big fight and put the blame of the breakup on him.  He hasn't made friends with anyone outside of his girlfriend's circle.  He has been in therapy for nearly a year for depression and self harm.  I had hoped that being out of the house at the school would help him work through his depression but apparently it is a bit worse now.  He's had to add a new medication to his current medication.  Also his therapist said that he has poor coping skills and for him to try to live as normal a life as possible which includes going to school everyday.  He has missed a lot of school due to various colds, stomach aches, and appointments with doctors.  He has severe insomnia too.  

 

The problem is that he was not very cooperative in doing homeschool with me in the past and also I'm afraid of setting a precedent for him to quit when the going gets tough.  Perhaps he just needs more time to adjust to being in a b and m school after having been homeschooled all his life?  Would he have more opportunities to strengthen his coping skills by practicing them at the school?  

 

It's a tough call for me.  I am a widow and so I don't have the support and strength of a dad to back me up in homeschool.  I do wonder though if I find a curriculum that would fit him better this time round that he would be more cooperative.  He is nearly sixteen by the way.  Also he is having no problem with the academics at the school.  In fact he is earning money tutoring and helping classmates with their homework.  

 

I'd appreciate the feedback from you guys.  Thanks.

Edited by Merry
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I have not seen evidence that attending school strengthens coping skills; it is just as likely (maybe more likely) to overwhelm them; there is no lack of kids in school drowning under their mental health problems.

 

Mental health would be my first priority--ahead of academics. If you decide to pull him out of school I would make sure he has a therapist who is supportive of homeschool; if the current therapist is not I would find someone else.

Edited by maize
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You should find him a therapist that does cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a Therapy that teaches you coping strategies using your personal experiences. It has been a life changer for my teens. As far as homeschooling, if his mental health is declining then bring him home. If you want to keep future options open, use a public online school.

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That's a very good idea about using a public online school.  In fact, my state has one through the high schools though it's not free.  I'll certainly look into it.  Thanks.  And I'll check with his therapist about doing cognitive behavioral therapy.

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Not that my opinion matters, but I'm not totally clear why you're considering bringing him home. His girlfriend broke up with him and he wants to run. That's no reason. I think I would talk with the school and ask what they can do. They might know of some clubs he could join or other things he could do to connect with a new social group.

 

I'd be more inclined to keep him in the school but to get him an after school job with an adult mentor.

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Mental illness is a tough one and there is no easy answer or one size fits all solution. Even therapists can make wrong calls based upon personal bias. The idea that homeschooling is not 'normal' is obviously a bias. So I would take that recommendation with a big grain of salt. That being said, I do think learning to interact with others in outside social circles is important. It just doesn't have to be in a public high school which can become a toxic environment. Taking dual enrollment classes at a local college can be a good way to engage others without the drama of high school. Live online classes can also provide interaction with teachers and students. Working a part time job, volunteering, joining some kind of sports activity or music group can all provide social opportunities. And there are many more which I'm sure you are aware of after homeschooling your other children.

 

If you decide to allow him to come home, I would make it conditional based on him agreeing to be involved in outside activities. The last thing a child struggling with mental illness needs is isolation which can lead to greater depression. That really may be where his current therapist was coming from. The problem is not all social interaction is equally beneficial. Sure, he has a lot of growing up to do. But is keeping him in the current situation the best way for him to learn to engage with others at this stage? Maybe, maybe not.

 

Given your situation, you do have to take your own needs into consideration as well. Would it be practical or feasible to have him at home? If so, what would he need to do make this workable for you? Can he work mostly independently at this stage? I would think carefully about what is realistic for you first after exploring your various options and local resources. Then have a talk with him once you do explaining what would be required if he were to return home.

 

The goal is obviously more than helping him get beyond high school but to prepare him for adulthood. I do like the idea of behavior therapy in combination with whatever decision you make.

Edited by dereksurfs
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Is the insomnia due to an anti-depressant?  That has been our experience.  My daughter also takes a mood stabilizer which happens to make her drowsy. Without it she would be getting very little sleep.  

 

We've tried both traditional counseling and CBT.  CBT was amazing though it could have been the psychologist.  I really wished we could have gotten 3rd dd in with the same doctor.

 

3rd dd went to public school for two years and was a cheerleader.  She had friends, a caring boyfriend, and great grades.  But depression won out in the end.  With depression you can't force yourself to be happy even if your life appears near perfect.  We finally had her come back home.  For a year she pretty much watched television or read books.  We didn't do any school.  This past fall dd suddenly decided to get her GED and had it about two weeks later.  Then she decided to take a class to become a nursing assistant. A week-and-a-half later she was in class.  Within two months she had a job.  Not exactly my dream for her (wiping behinds all night), but as I tell people, "She's alive."

 

But, every situation is individual, right?  You have to do what works in the moment.  

 

Note:  Maybe I'm too open about our experiences with depression, but I hope it helps someone.  We had a very normal life (rarely went to the doctor) until about 10 years ago.  I always hope that sharing our experiences will help others.  Depression happens.  It isn't something to be ashamed of.  And, you aren't alone.

 

 

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Is it possible to outsource most of his classes, to dual enrollment, co-ops, or online providers?  That way, he would be responsible to someone else for most academics, and you could homeschool a few of the subjects that went well for you two last time he was home.

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I think it's really hard to say, but my instinct is to say no, don't leave school.  It is pretty normal for depressed people to want to isolate themselves, but it usually makes things worse.  My inclination would be to look for more supports but carry on with school.  But another option might be school at home, but find other ways to get into the world.  I think that could be trickier though.

 

 

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You should find him a therapist that does cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a Therapy that teaches you coping strategies using your personal experiences. It has been a life changer for my teens. As far as homeschooling, if his mental health is declining then bring him home. If you want to keep future options open, use a public online school.

 

We were able to be part of a charter school in which my dd met in person weekly with a supervising teacher during high school. She got all her assignments from this teacher and was graded by her. She was able to take a couple of on-campus classes that met twice/week. For us, having that additional person on her learning team and as a buffer between us, as well as the chance to be in class in a positive atmosphere was a really good thing. This is my dd who was dealing with depression her first year with the charter. It was a great solution and a halfway point for us.

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