Homeschooling helps Farmington Hills teen pursue music dreams

Kadan Barnes first performed with his father, Farmington Hills firefighter and musician Stan Barnes, when he was around eight years old.

The 15-year-old high school sophomore still gets up on stage (mostly as a vocalist), writes music, and is learning how to be a producer by working on recording projects of his own. He’s also studying English, algebra, physical science, world history, computer technology and communications.

Jon Aldred for Farmington Hills City Council

Kadan Barnes

Kadan and his mother, Brenda Barnes, say that homeschooling has given him the freedom to pursue the work he loves, while earning a high school diploma through Michigan Connections Academy.

Brenda said she and her husband found the online school through research and talking with other parents. Their two older sons have graduated from the program.

“I had no experience with teaching, but they walked me through it step by step,” she said. “They were always accessible. I knew it wasn’t just me, by myself.”

Kadan Barnes

Kadan started the program in first grade and says homeschooling has allowed him to schedule time to practice and rehearse. But he has also had to learn discipline and how to prioritize his daily work.

“I can make my own schedule,” he said. “Staying focused in the toughest thing. Sometimes, I get lost in the music…I have to stay on task.”

That applies even when he’s away from home. Brenda said the family has traveled a lot, but the kids could always take their laptops and keep up with their classes.

“We didn’t want it to become to easy,” she said. “I didn’t want them to procrastinate. They had to get up and get dressed, and we had an area set up so they could do school work at a desk. You can get too comfortable at home.”

Brenda said Michigan Connections Academy is “an excellent program. Kadan has come a long way with the projects he has done. I’m exceptionally proud of him.”

Here’s a sample of Kadan’s music:

To learn more about Michigan Connections Academy, visit

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