Homeschooling, or why school didn’t work for us, part 2

Here’s part 1 of “Why school didn’t work for us”

The vomiting, weight loss, and freaking/tweaking behavior can’t go on. Even if it means the child can sit at his desk and do his work. So parents make the only choice they can make at that point: they pull him from school.


No doubt you’ve guessed it by now: this is our story. It’s  why we decided to homeschool. Our backs were against the wall and for our child’s sanity and our own we didn’t feel that we had any other choice. Yes, we could have stayed and worked with the wonderful, calm, experienced, organized teacher and eventually worked something out. We know she knew there were problems. But the wheels turn so slowly in our school system…and we couldn’t wait for that. Our problem was immediate. We weren’t willing to wait 2 years for him to be more than 2 years behind. And for what? An hour a day with the resource room teacher? Everyone knowing he couldn’t do what the other kids were doing? Kids picking on him (because oh yeah, did I happen to mention he was the class ‘loser’?). Constant anger, frustration, and disappointment?

Nope, we had no other choice.


I could probably write a BOOK about what’s happened to our family in the few short years we’ve been involved with public school as parents (and more as me as teacher-librarian). The system mostly fails kids like mine (and maybe yours) and it seems as though for every person who feels happy with how their child’s school deals with his or her disabilities there are 20 that are miserable.  I know that parents of ‘average’ children often feel the same way; now that we’ve pulled Little J from school his older brother, a very successful middle-school student, will follow him next year. Now that we’ve tried it we’ve seen how well it can work (for them; for me it’s often very difficult I have to admit)

I have great hopes for how homeschooling – or some other (future) form of alternative schooling – will solve many of our son’s problems with learning. I’m happy to report that in the 2 months he’s been home his reading has increased by a grade level and just today we played a game that involved counting money!  Some days have been incredibly hard: because he either couldn’t do the work because he didn’t have the skills, or was anxious about the work, or couldn’t attend long enough to accomplish the work (and probably a combination of all 3), he developed many behaviors to avoid doing the work. This has been a constant battle, but one which I know we’ll overcome.

I have a blog about our homeschooling journey that is filled with a lot of posts about muddling through. I need to get better about updating it(especially if I ever hope to write the aforementioned book), and I’ve written about it on A Mom’s View of ADHD as well, specifically in this post: “When Winter Break Lasts Forever: Why We’ve Decided to HomeSchool our ADHD child” and “Would you, could you, homeschool your ADHD child?” which I wrote back when we were trying to figure it all out. Please have a read if you’re interested or if our story rings true. And share your own story – either here or on Facebook.  I know this is a constant struggle for anyone raising a child with special needs.


Adrienne Ehlert Bashista lives in central North Carolina with her husband and 2 boys, ages 8 and 11. She is a contributor and co-editor to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories. To read all of Adrienne’s posts on this blog, please click here.



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14 thoughts on “Homeschooling, or why school didn’t work for us, part 2

  1. Pingback: Homeschooling, or Why School Didn’t Work for Us | Easy To Love But Hard to Raise

  2. Hi Adrienne,
    Tough journey. Thank goodness he has you. Learning should be an experience filled with wonder and curiousity, but I can commiserate with your experiences. A preschool teacher was fired for physically abusing Ken. She left imprints of her hands up and down his arms. Picking him up and throwing him in chair again and again. In elementary school, he spent alot of time alone because he struggled w/ large groups (in a large closet; the door was off the classroom). A highschool science teacher hit him in the head with a board twice and picked him up and threw him down. School hasn’t been a place where Ken could always trust adults. The one truly successful place was a special program Ken attended for kindergarten but Ken’s home district pulled him back and even after I advocated year after year for him to go back – he was never able to. I currently teach in that same program next door to that same kindergarten teacher where Ken had success. I wanted to be a teacher but in a place where I could feel comfortable and know it was a place where kids needs were truly considered.

  3. I’m so glad to have met you and Penny ( online anyway). At least I know two other mothers on the planet that have been through the same pain and struggle that our family has been through. We have sons the same age and the story is almost identical. I’ve felt so alone fighting this for so long. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. You are so not making me want to tough it out at school. Anything but. I wish we lived in the same town so we could co-homeschool or something. I have a fear of joining a local homeschool group here — they tend to be entirely driven by religion — to each his own but that’s not our thing. It is pure torment to send my kid into the school building every morning and know that he’s so unhappy and that they are slowly chipping away at his self-confidence, persona, and spirit. What to do?

    • I had the same fears as Penny, and after much agonizing, I’ve decided to take the plunge for my 11 year old. In the South, so many homeschool groups are religious, but I’ve been SO relieved to discover that there is a secular group here.

    • I empathize so much with your struggle to find a group that fits both you and your son. I am hoping that you will find a solution that works.

  5. Hi Penny, I know it’s so hard to decide what the best choice is. Maybe there’s a couple parents who homeschool that would be good partners? At least now the online support is there for homeschoolers. You’re such a good mom that you’re trying to find the best solution.

  6. I had one of those “What-the-heck-am-I-doing?” days – wondering what made me think I could homeschool my son and still try to be a normal person. Thank you for reminding me why my husband and I decided to make the choice we did! Beautifully written.

  7. Wow, you moms are so strong. My son has dyslexia and ADHD, we did not even try the public school knowing it would turn out much like the experiences that I read about here. We decided to send him to a private school fornchildren with learning differences. My child does not even realize that he is different than most kids. Please if you are having problems with the public schools find a private school and have a private Educational evaluation done it will save your sanity. We have refinanced our house to pay for the school and it is so worth it.

  8. Hi…

    I know the frustration of dealing with the schools. I have a 6 yr old that we recently adopted. He is developmentally delayed and also diagnosed with learning disabilities, and some other issues. He has problems processing things, so it takes him a while. While in Kindergarten, we had to put him in the Day Treatment part of the school system to help with his behaviors. While there, he only had 6 other students in his class. We were told he was getting one on one assistance with the teachers. When school finished June 10, 2011, he only recognized 12 letters in the alphabet, and could count to 2, yes 2. I worked with him 9 days and he knows the alphabet and can count to 18. We have an IEP for him. I discussed with his case manager last week about the teaching capabilities of the teachers. I was told they can’t give him one and one and that I’d have to do it. I’m like IM NOT A TEACHER IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. And to top it all, the principal promoted him to first grade, and he is not even Pre-k learning. I’ve pondered about Home schooling, but do not know what curriculum to use or how to even go about it. Any suggestions? email me at Thanks.

    • Hi Lisa –
      I’ll email you privately, too, but I wanted to reply on the blog in case this will help other people.
      First, homeschooling laws differ by state, so going to your state’s Education Department (whatever it is called) and looking up the rules and regs. is your first step. In NC, where I live, all our information is found through the Department of NonPublic Instruction. This will determine what you will absolutely HAVE to do for your child. Beyond that, you have a lot of choice. I don’t know you or your child but from what you describe – his delays and his poor success in school so far — it sounds like whatever you do will be better than what they are doing, AND – as the mom of an adopted child who has mild attachment issues – do not discount the good things that homeschooling will do to your child’s attachment.
      I’m no expert, but given your child’s age and delays I might not pick a specific curriculum, but just take it easy with him. Read. Practice writing. Do easy math. Go outside and talk about nature. Go to museums. Do art! 1-1 with you just an hour a day is probably more than he would have gotten at school. Good luck and keep in touch.

    • They are legally required to provide your child with a free APPROPRIATE, meaningful education. I have fought at IEP meetings for years. You have to go above them at the school, to the district, head of special services. In our district, the people at the top seem genuine, & they have no idea what is going on at the school level, while we’re being fought at every turn.
      I got an advocate, & I prepared to file due process, and magically, everything came together for him 🙂
      Homeschool is a viable option too though, if you have the tools to cope & do a good job with it. I agree, it would help with the bonding & attachment issues, but that will also be another hurdle to overcome. Best of luck! e-mail me if you’d like

  9. Loved this. It is hard to read something so eerily similar to what my son is going through. I’m at the point where I am starting to realize the school may be the problem and not our son. It has been a sad, lonely journey when we, as parents, are the only ones who believe in our son. Thank you for sharing your story.

  10. Thanks for sharing. I have a 13 year old son who is ADHD primarily inattentive and we have seen how poorly some teachers in the public (and private) schools have “handled” our son. Thank God, for the most part, he has actually had wonderful teachers and we had the most trouble with the “private” educational system that we had him in from age 2-5. After the horrible kindergarten experience in a Christian private school with a certain teacher and principal, we pulled him out and went to public school. We always thought that we were doing the right thing, but actually found the public school system more accommodating to his needs. He does not have a 504 or an IEP, but all of his teachers are always made aware of his issues at the beginning of school each year. We’re in NC as well (Cumberland County), so I’m very sorry to hear of this occurring in our home state. I have a sister who has a child that does have an IEP, and she unfortunately has had some terrible issues with some teachers, principals, and counselors as you have too. Her son has always attended different schools than ours have, so I personally feel that has made a difference too. We nave a 3 year old who is starting to exhibit signs (ok…he kinda always has) of also being ADHD, but with a major “H”…lol, and my husband and I have already discussed possibly homeschooling him when we both retire, which will be in 6 years (he will be in 4th grade then). Even though our middle schoolers has had mostly positive help, I just feel that we can be more attentive and in tune with what will work better educationally for our children. I regret that I’m not able to don this for my oldest, but it just is not feasible for us right now. Good luck to all of you. We are in this struggle together and we should never feel alone. There’s far too many of us parents out here struggling every single day to help our children make it in this world!!

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