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Competing with public schooled kids


RubyPenn
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My oldest is in 9th grade and is probably college-bound.  My mom, who does support our homeschooling, keeps mentioning to me that my kids need to be able to compete with their public schooled-peers, which makes me second guess what I'm doing.  She sees how hard my nieces are pushed at ps and worries my kids will be behind somehow.  For instance, my 8th grade niece has to do chemistry computations I don't remember doing until high school.  I personally think they are pushed way too hard too young and they have hours of homework to do almost every evening.  But, I guess I would still just like my mind to be set at ease.  Any thoughts?

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I dont approach education like public or private schools. My kids read science topics of interest until high school credits. No textbooks. No tests. No problem sets. No labs. Not until high school science.

My kids first chemical equation is in high school chemistry. I have a chemE and physics grad student. My high school sr will be pursuing meteorology.  My 5 older kids who have gone to college have all been honors students.

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I think the "arms race" in public schools is really crazy, and often damaging and dysfunctional. The problem for public schoolers is that almost all high schools offer the same set of courses, so to stand out from tens of thousands of other public schoolers, you need to do more, and in order to do more you have to start earlier. Start HS math and science in middle school, so you can do more AP courses in high school. If most kids in your school do 5-6 APs, you need 8-10 to stand out; if most kids join 4-5 clubs and have leadership positions in 3, you'd better be able to list 7-8 and be president of 3-4, etc. 

Homeschoolers don't have to play that game, because they have a million other, much more interesting and creative, ways to stand out. They can choose unusual or out-of-the-box courses that are tailored to their interests, since they're not limited to the same ol' same ol' courses list. They can pursue their passions in their ECs, because they're not limited to French Club and Yearbook Club, etc. Allow your student to create a transcript that really lets them shine and show who they are, and they will naturally stand out from a sea of look-alike PS kids.

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20 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

 Allow your student to create a transcript that really lets them shine and show who they are, and they will naturally stand out from a sea of look-alike PS kids.

I'm finding that in my circle of homeschoolers, the majority of high school kids are taking the typical courses as well, especially for science, so I begin to think I should be doing the same.   Did you find that colleges were impressed or intrigued by your childrens' atypical transcripts? 

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19 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

I'm finding that in my circle of homeschoolers, the majority of high school kids are taking the typical courses as well, especially for science, so I begin to think I should be doing the same.   Did you find that colleges were impressed or intrigued by your childrens' atypical transcripts? 

Yes, definitely.  DS had several Top 20 options, and at his first choice school he was awarded the maximum scholarships, despite just barely meeting the minimum score requirement (ACT 33) and having no APs and only 2 DEs, while other students with higher stats, more APs, etc., did not get the same scholarships. He was also able to jump straight into 300 & 400 level courses in his major, because of having studied extensively on his own, and several of his profs have been impressed enough to ask if they could use his work as examples in future classes. The head of the department for his minor just rearranged their fall course schedule specifically so DS can take the courses he needs for the minor, which are normally scheduled at times that conflict with his varsity practice. Both his major and minor subjects are areas he studied extensively on his own before college, and people have definitely been impressed by that.

ETA: @8FillTheHeart also has kids who earned large scholarships based on unique transcripts that demonstrated self-direction and the pursuit of passions at a high level.

Edited by Corraleno
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9 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

I'm finding that in my circle of homeschoolers, the majority of high school kids are taking the typical courses as well, especially for science, so I begin to think I should be doing the same.   Did you find that colleges were impressed or intrigued by your childrens' atypical transcripts? 

My current college student didnt take any APs or DE (except for spring sr yr, so not part of her application.) She has 15 foreign lang credits (she studied 3 languages plus had immersion summer camps for credit).  She had unusual literature and history courses (like French history in French).

She was 1 of the 20 out of state students selected for her Us select honors program and top scholarship. (She was accepted with scholarship to every school she applied to.)

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2 hours ago, RubyPenn said:

But, I guess I would still just like my mind to be set at ease.  Any thoughts?

 

My oldest is in college.  She actually is supposed to be a senior this year in high school, but we were both just kinda done.  She and I couldn't make much progress after junior year.  No homeschooler was as lazy as my daughter was.  Rolling out of bed at noon...reading for HOURS before she managed to get dressed....daydreaming....walking around Hobby Lobby all afternoon looking at art and craft supplies...taking days to finish her schoolwork that should've just taken a couple of hours.  We usually did 4-5 hours of schoolwork a day - TOPS.  Four days a week.  We'll toss it all aside to go to the park...go to the zoo...go to an old fort from the 1800s...go fishing...  She has projects all over the house (I mean, still does - lol).  Ok, you get the picture.  

She never did dual enrollment and we never did a co-op.  Honestly, I think she was just too lazy for dual enrollment.  It would've interfered with the time she spent redoing all of her aquariums and checking the ph in the soil of the 50 gazillion plants she has in her room (yes, I'm rolling my eyes).  So, she basically hasn't been in a school since she was 6.  *ahem*

When she took her college placement tests, she tested into the highest math possible.  They said she could've answered more questions correctly and she would've still ended up in that class.  She only has to take one math class for college and she's taking it right now - statistics.  She has a 101% average in the class.  101%....  Yes, I'm laughing right now.  They just got their exams back this week and she scored 102% on the exam.  She went to her statistics teacher's office hours and the lady said if that if my daughter doesn't get an A in her class, she would be shocked.  DD has something absurd - like 50 extra credit points in art history - on top of the A she already has.  She got an A+ on her US history paper.  Yes, my lazy child...  She has an A in EVERY class this semester so far.

And she's not burned out.  She's VERY excited to go to school every day.

Maybe that will make you feel better?  😂 

Editing to add: If my daughter could've competed for the Laziest Teenager on Earth Award, she would've won 1st place.   

Edited by Evanthe
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It’s just different. I used to look at what the top students at our high performing high school were doing and think I had to do that too. I thought my dc would be taking all AP classes to try to keep up. My oldest did a couple AP with PA Homeschoolers and it was fine but just not for us. I used to think because my dc were good students that they would have to take honors/AP everything because they would if they were in school. But with my oldest we just figured out that just because he would be an all honors/AP kid in school didn’t mean that was the path to take at home. He had a good ACT and a solid high school education and has done very well in college. Without any impressive AP courses or scores.

My next ds was not as eager as a student and would never have wanted a single AP. He did plenty of dual enrollment but they were easy gen eds so I’m sure no one was impressed. He got into college with scholarships too.

My current junior likes online classes and has taken a regular high school lineup but nothing labeled “honors” by a provider and no APs. He has excellent test scores and I expect him to get in and get scholarships where he wants to go. 
 

Now my dc are not attending Ivy League or highly competitive schools. The first is at a tiny liberal arts college and the second is at a huge public university. My third will attend our state flagship. So, while the first is at a tiny school the other two will be attending major universities (ranked not in the top 20 but top 100). But the really important thing to note is that the vast majority of those public school kids with 10 APs will also attend the same kind of schools my boys do. So quite certainly my boys aren’t going to Harvard. But neither are most of those other kids. 
 

You need to have the homeschool you desire for your family. You can’t AP yourself into a top school. I will say good test scores are important but my kids got good-very good scores without all the pushing. 

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1 hour ago, Evanthe said:

 

 

And she's not burned out.  She's VERY excited to go to school every day.

Maybe that will make you feel better?  😂 

Editing to add: If my daughter could've competed for the Laziest Teenager on Earth Award, she would've won 1st place.   

Yes, all these posts are making me feel better, especially hearing your daughter is really lazy.  My son is pretty lazy, but is motivated to learn any instrument he can get his hands on. 

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49 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

 

You need to have the homeschool you desire for your family. You can’t AP yourself into a top school. I will say good test scores are important but my kids got good-very good scores without all the pushing. 

Thank you.  I think my kid could handle AP courses, but I can definitely see him not wanting to do the work.  He's not motivated as it is. 

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52 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

You need to have the homeschool you desire for your family. 

 

Yes!  I realized this about 2 years ago.  I started thinking "what was I picturing in my mind when I decided to homeschool???  Now, I'm going to start doing that!"  I gave up caring about what constitutes a credit hour and how their transcripts are going to look.  I started doing fun stuff with them again - like read-alouds (we had stopped these for awhile), sketching from an art book while listening to piano music...field trips....PE at the park with other homeschoolers...

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I see this with my nieces.  My sister pushed to have one of them who has serious dyslexia into  algebra early because all her friends were taking it and she didn't want her daughter to feel badly about herself.  So then my brother-in-law spends umpteen hours of time helping her with homework every night.  It's insane.  They also push, push, push for her to make honor roll for her "self-esteem".

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3 hours ago, Corraleno said:

I think the "arms race" in public schools is really crazy, and often damaging and dysfunctional.

 

I see this with my nieces.  My sister pushed to have one of them who has serious dyslexia into  algebra early because all her friends were taking it and she didn't want her daughter to feel badly about herself.  So then my brother-in-law spends umpteen hours of time helping her with homework every night.  It's insane.  They also push, push, push for her to make honor roll for her "self-esteem".

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2 hours ago, RubyPenn said:

I'm finding that in my circle of homeschoolers, the majority of high school kids are taking the typical courses as well, especially for science, so I begin to think I should be doing the same.   Did you find that colleges were impressed or intrigued by your childrens' atypical transcripts? 

Yes, definitely. Specific things were mentioned in acceptance and scholarship letters and also brought up during interviews. Probably the only subject we generally did in a fairly traditional way was math.

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2 minutes ago, Frances said:

Yes, definitely. Specific things were mentioned in acceptance and scholarship letters and also brought up during interviews. Probably the only subject we generally did in a fairly traditional way was math.

Do you mind telling me what some of your courses were?

 

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8 minutes ago, RubyPenn said:

I see this with my nieces.  My sister pushed to have one of them who has serious dyslexia into  algebra early because all her friends were taking it and she didn't want her daughter to feel badly about herself.  So then my brother-in-law spends umpteen hours of time helping her with homework every night.  It's insane.  They also push, push, push for her to make honor roll for her "self-esteem".

Sounds like they're more focused on their own "self-esteem" and keeping up with the Joneses. 🤨

One of the many blessings of homeschooling is the ability to step away from that kind of competition. It's crazy how often I see threads on College Confidential where kids and/or their parents are devastated by not getting into elite schools, lamenting that "all that hard work was for nothing" — because the education itself was never the focus, it was all about winning a prize at the end, to validate their self-worth and provide bragging rights. I firmly believe that colleges can tell the difference between kids who are going through the motions in hopes of winning the lottery and the ones whose educational interests are genuine and authentic. And that's where homeschoolers can have a real advantage.

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My kids have been in what's considered a high performing high school in an uptight high performing area. I was not impressed. The kids have a lot of homework and stress but I felt they were learning very little in almost every subject. Coming out of homeschooling, the kids agreed. I still felt they would be disadvantaged with a homeschool diploma compared to the prestige of our local high school until I spoke with a college counselor. 

I'm sure it varies by school, but the impression I got was that homeschool kids stick out. It gives them a hook and they are inclined to want (maybe even prefer) homeschooled students if they have the test scores to back them up. My kids were never going to be top 1-2% at their high schools. They had interests that would keep them out of number of AP classes necessary to weight their GPA enough even if they had straight As. They were also not interested in joining the sports or clubs the school offered- they had their own interests. I feel that for my kids, homeschooling will help them compete and give them the freedom to pursue their interests that will set them apart. Educationally, I am beyond confident after seeing what's going on in the schools that my kids will be better off at home. 

And I'm not even considering the terrible way they treated my kids with disabilities. 

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My ds got into MIT and also got the top merit scholarship to Carnegie Mellon. He had a non-traditional transcript especially because we live in NZ so don't follow the US approach to education, and he did apply with a homeschool transcript. I had to retroactively create courses based on 3 years of readings and personal interests because we basically unschooled all humanities, history, and social sciences throughout highschool. And even with this not-designed, not-tracked, not-assessed approach for highschool humanities/social sciences, he just got named a Burchard Scholar for excellence in the humanities as a sophomore at MIT.  Our homeschool is about authentic learning, rather than box checking and keeping up with the Jones, and it has been my great joy to be apart of my kids' journeys. It has been hard work, but oh so rewarding. 

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Public school in our area is not challenging, so no worries there. My youngest is in our public high school and no way is her education nearly what her homeschooled sisters' was. Very much depends on where you are.

And my public school kid has little homework, despite being on the honors track

Edited by GoodGrief
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We were pretty relaxed homeschoolers; I called it funschooling, even in high school. My kids worried they would not be able to keep up with college level work once they were around other students. These same kids took outside science classes and did some dual enrollment. Then they worried that a 4 year college would be harder than their DE classes.

Colleges were welcoming. I think it's key to remember that they see applicants from very different kinds of high schools, and those students go on to be competetive in college. I had one admittance counselor from a school with 20,000 students call me to suggest my oldest take an additional math class to be more competitive--he said he knew we could swing that as homeschoolers, that public school students wouldn't have had that option so late in the application process.

My oldest ended up graduating magna cum laude. The younger was offered a full tuition scholarship at a nearby university. He chose to go somewhere else and is also graduating this spring magna cum laude.

 

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My oldest three homeschooled through high school. My ds1 would have made a strong run at the  laziest homeschooler award.  He finished his work early so he could backpack around Europe for a few months. My next one was more conscientious but did as little as possible to keep me off her back. All she cared about was swimming and Olympic Trials her senior year. The next one was better, but mostly because I had been worn down...

Ds1 graduated with honors in 4 ys despite missing two semesters for illness, dd2 graduated in three years, swimming D1, with honors and is now in law school, ds3 will double major and is doing well, despite a late diagnosed LD. They all got into every school they applied to (dd1 had 5 athletic scholarship offers).

All of them received a better education than dd2 who is going to public school- taking various AP classes and being on the honor roll. A statement she freely admits is correct.

My last child decided to be homeschooled for high school- I don't worry too much anymore. 

 

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I tried to keep up with the local elite private school with my oldest. It may have suited him, but I'm definitely not going that route with my younger two. I live in a low reg state. My only requirements are that I teach them "English, including reading, composition and writing, mathematics, science and social studies, including history, geography, economics and government." In order to get the state scholarship for tuition deduction, they need a 22 ACT score. For automatic acceptance into the local public U, they need a 22 ACT score. No course requirements on any level other than the general subjects listed above. I can teach whatever I think will suit them. It's been a huge relief and truly earth-shattering to know I don't have to jump through hoops of any kind. If I do my job right, a 22 ACT should be easily manageable. So why wouldn't I take full advantage of homeschooling high school and design their 4 years to help them cultivate their interests? And if I do that, their high school experience will not remotely resemble the rat race that is competitive high school. 

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Thanks Evanthe and MysteryJen! I have an eighth grader who I think is vying to take down your kids for the laziest teenager/homeschooler award. I’ve been really struggling with the idea of whether or not I can homeschool him for high school. His brother is a junior and is a super motivated self-directed kid. He’s not perfect but has been fairly easy to homeschool. Added to that is the fact that he and have very similar personalities and learning styles. I hasn’t been a breeze but it’s been relatively smooth. 

Enter the eighth grader who has a totally different personality and learning style. He is an out-of-the-box thinker.  He definitely has ADD as well, but is adamantly against taking meds. So far, I’ve mostly been ok with having a different approach with him. But I think as we’re looking at high school next year I’ve started to feel anxious about it again. 

I might not let him read your posts but it’s good to know that there is hope for a kid who comes home from swim practice, makes himself an enormous breakfast using every dish in the kitchen  and then spends hours on the couch with his coffee and his dog before he is ready to think about maybe starting the school day. 

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4 hours ago, Alice said:

Thanks Evanthe and MysteryJen! I have an eighth grader who I think is vying to take down your kids for the laziest teenager/homeschooler award. I’ve been really struggling with the idea of whether or not I can homeschool him for high school. His brother is a junior and is a super motivated self-directed kid. He’s not perfect but has been fairly easy to homeschool. Added to that is the fact that he and have very similar personalities and learning styles. I hasn’t been a breeze but it’s been relatively smooth. 

Enter the eighth grader who has a totally different personality and learning style. He is an out-of-the-box thinker.  He definitely has ADD as well, but is adamantly against taking meds. So far, I’ve mostly been ok with having a different approach with him. But I think as we’re looking at high school next year I’ve started to feel anxious about it again. 

I might not let him read your posts but it’s good to know that there is hope for a kid who comes home from swim practice, makes himself an enormous breakfast using every dish in the kitchen  and then spends hours on the couch with his coffee and his dog before he is ready to think about maybe starting the school day. 

This might be my 8th grader except I can’t get him out of bed for morning practice with his sister who is a junior this year.  Oh, and we don’t have a dog and he prefers tea to coffee😀. Other than that, I could have written this post.

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On 2/17/2020 at 5:37 PM, RubyPenn said:

My oldest is in 9th grade and is probably college-bound.  My mom, who does support our homeschooling, keeps mentioning to me that my kids need to be able to compete with their public schooled-peers, which makes me second guess what I'm doing.  She sees how hard my nieces are pushed at ps and worries my kids will be behind somehow.  For instance, my 8th grade niece has to do chemistry computations I don't remember doing until high school.  I personally think they are pushed way too hard too young and they have hours of homework to do almost every evening.  But, I guess I would still just like my mind to be set at ease.  Any thoughts?

I have homeschooled my three biological children through high school.  My twins graduate this May.   All three have been afforded opportunities and privileges that brick and mortar students would never have had access to.   My oldest daughter is a junior at The Ohio State University as an  Eminence Fellow and Stamps Scholar.   My other son and daughter have both been offered scholarships at universities covering full COA.  

 

 

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I understand what she's saying and I have even used the phrase myself. However, I think of it more as that we as hs moms need to make sure we "package" our kids' out of the box educations in such a way that it makes it easy for admissions departments to compare apples to apples than in an actual "how does my kid stack up to ps kids" kind of way.

My oldest had a few APs and his transcript had a lot of higher level math on it, but that's because that's the kind of person he is and the things he was passionate about, and we were sure to highlight that passion in his applications. He is currently thriving in a well regarded CS program.

2nd DS had no APs and a mostly standard transcript with some out of the box electives. His extracurricular stuff and leadership experiences are (IMO) what made him stand out and got him accepted into the same school as 1st DS with a hefty scholarship - even though his scores were not nearly as high and his transcript didn't have APs and honors classes galore. He would not have had time to do any of those with a grueling course schedule like a lot of ps kids have.

But even if they hadn't been this successful, I still wouldn't trade the precious years I had with them and the copious amounts of free time they had to pursue their passions for all the tea in China 🙂

Edited by Momto6inIN
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I worried about this too.  Did I prepare them enough?  Was my content rigorous enough?  Did I cover everything I needed to cover to set them up well for college?  Now that both are in college, I can honestly say "YES!"  Both dc are Phi Theta Kappa. Both are members of various honors societies.  Both have received some level of scholarship.  Both were accepted to their first choice universities.

Oldest will graduate this May.  She was well prepared for her core classes.  One day last year (her junior year at university) she called me laughing.  One of her classes was covering editing.  I required Editor in Chief as part of my english program.  She was the only one in the class that had ever done that type of editing.  She was laughing because she hated editing in high school but she said that section of the class was very easy for her thanks to high school preparation.

Do your due diligence.  Plan out a solid high school college prep program:  4 english/literature, 4 math, 4 science, 4 social studies,  1 gov, 1 econ, 1 fine arts, 2 foreign language, 1 or 2 PE (depending on state requirements), 1 health, about 10 electives.  Teach them how to learn: how to research, how to take notes, how to plan and prioritize work. Instill a love of learning and curiosity in general. 

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On 2/17/2020 at 5:37 PM, RubyPenn said:

My oldest is in 9th grade and is probably college-bound.  My mom, who does support our homeschooling, keeps mentioning to me that my kids need to be able to compete with their public schooled-peers, which makes me second guess what I'm doing.  She sees how hard my nieces are pushed at ps and worries my kids will be behind somehow.  For instance, my 8th grade niece has to do chemistry computations I don't remember doing until high school.  I personally think they are pushed way too hard too young and they have hours of homework to do almost every evening.  But, I guess I would still just like my mind to be set at ease.  Any thoughts?

So, I pushed my senior DD hard in order to "compete with the public schools" and so that we would have a "rigorous curriculum".  Never again.  And younger DS is getting a different type of teacher.  DD got into all the schools to which she applied, with Trustee or Presidential scholarships, but it seriously was not worth it.  She got seriously ill in 10th grade and was ill for nearly a year; she was too over-extended and stressed to recover properly.  Starting senior year, I could see that she was burnt out, so we finished up fall semester and this semester she is slacking and doing what she wants to do for run.  Otherwise, she would be too burnt out to succeed in college.  The only things college gave a hoot about for "merit aid" were a college-prep curriculum, GPA and test scores; those 3 things determined merit aid.  The rest was useful for smaller scholarships, but not critical.  So my advice here is to concentrate on getting those English and math skills rock-solid (in order to get a great standardized test score), have a great GPA, and have your child pursue whatever interests him and in whatever doses he would like.

So my new advice (and what I am doing with younger DS) is to put together a solid high school curriculum, keep high expectations and grades up, and not worry about keeping up with the Kardashians.  A solid curriculum, done regularly and conscientiously, will allow your child to "compete", if that's what you desire.  But, we are hopping of the competition train, as well.  It serves no one.  You just wind up with an academic arms race where the kids are too burned out and apathetic to give a crap about anything, and the only "winners" are the last ones standing with the stamina to outlast the latest arms race (who has the most APs, who has the most dual enrollment credits, who has the highest GPA, who is most "well-rounded", who has the most activities, etc).

Edited by Reefgazer
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On 2/19/2020 at 9:47 AM, MysteryJen said:

My oldest three homeschooled through high school. My ds1 would have made a strong run at the  laziest homeschooler award.  He finished his work early so he could backpack around Europe for a few months. My next one was more conscientious but did as little as possible to keep me off her back. All she cared about was swimming and Olympic Trials her senior year. The next one was better, but mostly because I had been worn down...

Ds1 graduated with honors in 4 ys despite missing two semesters for illness, dd2 graduated in three years, swimming D1, with honors and is now in law school, ds3 will double major and is doing well, despite a late diagnosed LD. They all got into every school they applied to (dd1 had 5 athletic scholarship offers).

All of them received a better education than dd2 who is going to public school- taking various AP classes and being on the honor roll. A statement she freely admits is correct.

My last child decided to be homeschooled for high school- I don't worry too much anymore. 

 

I'm dying laughing at the bolded - that is my DD exactly.  Told Ds right in front of me to just "do what she wants and she'll leave you alone", LOL.

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