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Taytlyn's Story

Horses and Homeschooling: How This 11 year-old Is Overcoming Bullying

A scan of news headlines over the past year will quickly tell you that bullying is not a thing to be taken lightly. Targeted attacks on a child or teen for physical, psychological, or religious reasons can have devastating consequences. Depending on the severity of the bullying, parents of victimized children may consider homeschooling as a solution.

Taytlyn and a horse

For Tami and Stan Andrews, homeschooling was the obvious choice. Their daughter, Taytlyn, suffers from Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder that results in intestinal damage when gluten is consumed. In Taytlyn’s case, the disease caused nutritional deprivation and malabsorption. Because of cross-contamination risks, the family is limited in where they can eat, and they cannot go on vacations like ‘normal’ families. Considering how food-centric American culture is, the Andrews must be very vigilant to keep their daughter away from gluten.

“Taytlyn’s digestive limitations make group situations like a school classroom difficult,” said Tami. But they endured it—that is, until Taytlyn started being bullied in public school.

Homeschooling provided a safe environment for Taytlyn to learn and begin to heal, both physically and emotionally. Yet even in homeschooling, the family has found challenges. Taytlyn is very outgoing, and homeschooling can facilitate richer socialization than what many publicly educated children receive. Weekly homeschool co-ops presented some of the same difficulties for Taytlyn’s medical condition as she’d encountered in public school.
 
When Maria Chamberlain, the New Hampshire State Ambassador for the Home School Foundation (HSF), learned of Taytlyn’s situation, she arranged a small financial grant for the family through HSF. The Andrews then used the grant to purchase a printer which would facilitate a distance learning program—an absolute necessity for Taytlyn to learn in a safe environment.

Taytlyn and her new printer

“Bullying may occur in a variety of ways,” Maria said. “In Taytlyn’s case, dietary restrictions and issues with Celiac Disease led her family to homeschool in order to provide her with a healthier, emotionally safe environment. And HSF was able to help her family afford some of the resources needed to homeschool.”

But homeschooling isn’t the only balm for Taytlyn’s wounds. Interestingly, horses are also playing a tremendous role in restoring Taytlyn’s whole person. Her homeschool schedule includes attending a horse camp four days a week. She helps in the barn, mucks out stalls, rides alongside other children, and trains the horses. All of this physical exercise, time spent in nature, and interacting with the horses as well as with other children has brought Taytlyn pleasure and fulfillment.

“My dream is to ride a horse along the beach or stay at a dude ranch,” shared Taytlyn. “These dreams are out of reach for me right now, but being with the horses is my happy place. I love being outside with them. And just a few weeks ago, I was in my first horsemanship show!”

Instead of letting her physical challenges limit her ability to live life to the fullest, Taytlyn and her family are embracing her medical restrictions with creativity and positivity. Taytlyn is thriving in her new environments, both at (home)school and at the barn.

The Andrews family is grateful for the support from Maria and the HSF Ambassador Program.

Do you have a heart for helping families continue to homeschool through hard times? HSF Ambassadors like Maria are volunteers who encourage, connect with, help, and advocate on behalf of homeschooling families facing challenges. With as little as five hours a month, you can help parents give their children the opportunity to flourish like Taytlyn by becoming a HSF Ambassador.

If you’re interested in becoming an Ambassador in your area or supporting the HSF Ambassador program, please visit homeschoolfoundation.org/volunteer.

Helping families homeschool through hard times

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