Taking the Road Less Traveled

Education

My daughter, Anna, has been struggling with fatigue, anxiety and depression for several months now and the everyday stress of getting her out of bed and off to school is affecting the entire family. Her grades are suffering and our dreams of seeing her through high school and off to college grow dimmer with each passing day. Which is why we are now considering the previously unthinkable: homeschooling.

We are not a very religious family and we feel our local school district has done a perfectly fine job with our daughter’s education so far. The problem is that her debilitating levels of fatigue mean that she no longer seems capable of making it through a school day without threatening to drop out. We have tried negotiating with her — at various times dangling carrots and taking away privileges — but to no avail.

On Thursday, she came to us with a proposal of unschooling her for the next two-and-a-half years. This approach would consist of removing her from school and allowing her to follow her own interests outside of a traditional educational environment and without a traditional curriculum. The unschooling concept can include self-directed study, elective classes, travel, internships, work, and many other experiences. Frankly, it sounds awesome.

Our big concerns revolve around how well such an unstructured and unusual approach can prepare someone for adulthood. Part of me thinks it could work wonders but another part of me worries that it could be disaster. Wherever we end up in two-and-a-half years, we will look back on this day — from here on known as The Spaghetti Night Massacre — as a major turning point in our lives.

Wish us luck and check in on us to see our progress.

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