An Anxious Daughter – Q&A Sept-Oct

HEM’s Questions & Answers – September-October 2010

Homeschooling an Anxious Daughter

My teenage daughter has problems with anxiety and school was her biggest issue. I’m nervous about keeping up with her grade level but I also don’t want to push her because she gets worried easily. I know there are a people who have gotten through somehow without school so if they have any advice for me I’d appreciate it. -Shannon

Your responses (in comments area below) must meet our deadline of July 15th, 2010. Please recognize that your submission may be edited for length or clarity and indicate how you prefer your question or answer signed.

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5 Responses to An Anxious Daughter – Q&A Sept-Oct

  1. Crystal on June 29, 2010 at 11:47 am

    My advice to you is just to just follow what you have already said. You don’t want to push her too hard. Then don’t! Since you are homeschooling, you have as much time as you want to work on things. She can spend 6 months per semester instead of 4 1/2 months. Or maybe even spend a longer time on it than that, because there will be some subjects that will take less time later.

    Or you could take a page from the unschoolers. Okay, so you want her to learn American History. Does she really need to learn whatever the textbook/curriculum says she does? No! Make up your own requirements. Yes, a teen does need to learn to write term papers if she is going into most subjects in college, but let her choose what to write about now. You can set the stage for it. “Hey, Honey, let’s work on your paper writing by having you research someone from the civil war era. Can you think of any people that you read about that you would be interested in learning more about?” Make it all about the learning experience.

    Don’t grade her poorly. If she does a miserable job on something, have HER analyze what went wrong. Then have her try to correct the mistakes and say what she can do differently next time. Or make her explanation into the next paper that you request her to do.

    Ah, but how do you grade the class overall at the end of the year/semester to put on the transcript? Think about how well she knows the material that she covered. You don’t need to give her heavy pressure quizzes and tests. You can just have discussions over the dinner table to evaluate her without putting her on the spot. Don’t let her know that you’re going to grade her on it. Just say, “Honey, please tell your father/brother/grandma what we learned about today.” Then ask leading questions if she starts to clam up. “I seem to recall reading about dangling participles. Do you remember what the book said about them?” Be honest too. You may have forgotten some of the lesson yourself. “Hmmm. What was the formula for wavelength again? Was it IR^2 or 1/Lamda? I just can’t recall.” If neither one of you remember then you can look it up together after the meal.

    The other advise I have is to learn along with her. Study the material together, or have the whole family study it. If you are all giving oral reports to each other she wont feel as stressed. Also it makes it more fun. You can devise trivia games together. Each of you write 5 questions and answers to what you learned and then put them into a board game that you made up. It can be like Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, even Memory. Whatever you think is fun. You could have zany physical challenges as punishment for missing the questions. “Mom! You forgot E=mc^2 so now you have to hop on one foot while whistling the theme from Star Trek!”

    Learning can be fun all the way up through high school. Help her make it fun, and you’ll all learn something and grow closer through it.

  2. Crystal Listerman on June 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I just noticed that I didn’t sign it and you say above to “indicate how you prefer your question or answer signed”.

    Sign me,
    Crystal Listerman
    Homeschool mom to three in Missouri

  3. Helen on June 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you for the wonderfully thoughtful response, Crystal! And we’ve noted the signature – thank you again!

  4. Sonita on June 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    You’re homeschooling, you don’t have to worry about grade level anymore! 😀

    Seriously, most homeschoolers I personally know, don’t really worry about grade level, or grades for that matter.

    She’s a teenager, what does she want to be when she grows up? Does she know yet? If so, I’d put a strong focus on subjects that will help her along her chosen path, and a lesser emphasis on the other subjects. How much stuff did you learn in high school that you have forgotten and never used since graduation? Why waste time teaching her what she doesn’t need, isn’t interested in and won’t use just cause the public school system does.

    “It is absurd and anti-life to be a part of a system that compels you to listen to a stranger reading poetry when you want to learn to construct buildings, or to sit with a stranger discussing the construction of buildings when you want to read poetry.” -John Taylor Gatto

    Just research how to keep good transcripts for high school. It’s best to keep them as you go along instead of at the end of the year or upon graduation, as you might forget something very important.

    Sonita Lewis

  5. Tonya on July 1, 2010 at 6:53 am

    My daughter also has severe anxiety issues, and she simply was not able to succeed in the typical middle school classroom, especially in math (she is 13). This is our first year of homeschooling, and I have worked out a grading system that takes away the pressure and keeps my daughter’s anxiety at bay. I give her a math assignment, and when she completes it, I go over it and mark the answers I disagree with (I do not call them “wrong” answers). She works through those problems again and then we recheck. When we agree on the answers to all the problems, the assignment is complete. If it takes one day to complete the lesson, I grade the assignment an A. If it takes two days, I grade it a B. If it takes three days, I give a C and I find a new approach to teach the concept. The new approach becomes the next day’s lesson, and we start over. My daughter cannot make lower than a C, and she always has a shot at an A, even if the work is “hard” and she makes many mistakes. Knowing she cannot fail and that she has some control over her grade has helped ease my child’s anxiety considerably.