Many homeschooling families have been committed homeschoolers from the beginning. They knew they wanted to educate their children at home and pursued that option from the get go. Others, however, stumble into homeschooling looking for more flexibility or family time, because they have a struggling student, and often because they have been let down by public or private schools.
That’s the story of Seth Manning. Seth’s journey to homeschooling was very different than most and was started with a school diagnosis of ADHD at 9. Seth did well in elementary and middle school, though it did become more difficult to get his teachers to adopt the recommended accommodations for him with each passing grade. But, with time, Seth began struggling. While his mother, Cindy Worley tried to make adjustments to Seth’s education to accommodate his needs, she knew something didn’t feel right about the school’s diagnosis and educational plan. She tried numerous times to get the school system to put Seth’s needs first, to see him as more than just a kid with ADHD, but they were more than satisfied the label and refused to reconsider.
And it only got worse as Seth entered high school. He found himself in a brand new environment, with 6 separate teachers to keep track of, most of which gave him more work than he could keep up with and little instruction or skills to help him stay organized. He had individual needs but was being treated just like everyone else, and this strategy was failing him.
The turning point for Seth came in 10th grade after he was prompted by his English teacher, a class he loved and did well in, to take an Advanced English class for next year. A few months into the course Cindy received a message from Seth’s new teacher saying that Seth was unmotivated towards the material and was not doing well in Advanced English. Cindy was shocked! She knew how much Seth enjoyed his last English class and the struggles she went through trying to get his new teachers to make the proper accommodations. They had come to a crossroads. It was clear that something was not right and Seth needed more from his school and education to truly succeed.
Cindy took action. She found a well-known neuropsychologist in her area who after speaking with Seth told her to stop all ADHD medication immediately, and diagnosed him with dyslexia and dysgraphia. However, this did not ease tensions between Cindy and her school system. They refused to accept the new diagnosis, even going so far as to tell Cindy she only got that diagnosis because she paid the right doctor. Needless to say, the situation had gotten dire. Seth was having panic attacks at school due to the work and Cindy was constantly worrying about Seth’s future.
At the end of Seth’s sophomore year, Cindy started taking a serious looking at homeschooling options. However, even with a flexible work schedule, there was no way she could keep up with a full high school curriculum and workload. But while researching options online, Cindy discovered Bridgeway and was highly encouraged by the flexibility of the curriculum and administrative management. The online programs, advisors, and ability to monitor Seth’s progress remotely gave Cindy the courage to take the leap and enroll. And the fact that Bridgeway provided a real diploma and graduation was important for Seth.
While positive results did take time, it became apparent very quickly that this was working for Seth. Even though he signed up for an aggressive curriculum to make up for bad grades in his sophomore year, he was doing better in the classes he needed to retake. His self-esteem skyrocketed because for the first time in two years he knew he could do well and succeed. As a visual learner, Seth connected better with his online classes and was able to understand and retain more information. Success and achievement are great motivators and by the end of his first homeschool year, Seth was an honor roll student! Making Seth the center of his education, refusing to allow a label to determine his life and educational plan proved to be the U-turn Seth needed to bring hope, healing, and triumph.
Thanks to his flexible homeschool schedule, Seth was able to pick up some part time jobs and still attend one or two classes at his local high school, though he makes sure to pick only the ones he knows he’ll do well in or he really enjoys. This gives him the opportunity to socialize with friends, have a steady income, and gather valuable life skills — like learning AutoCAD in his architecture class. Cindy no longer worries whether or not Seth will go to college. Thanks to his homeschool education she knows that now the door is open to him, even if he chooses another path for himself.
It’s not always ideology or beliefs that drive families to homeschool. The simple truth is that each child has their own needs and learning style, and it’s the responsibility of the parents — their first real teacher — to give them every opportunity to better themselves and succeed.