Spill post #2: Never Thought I’d See the Day.

by Janelle Hanchett


I am not one of those parents. I am not not not not not not.


 Yeah, me neither.

 Especially when I consider my recent decision to homeschool my son, Rocket.

 I’m so granola I should be in a bin at Whole Foods.

Next thing you know I’ll be growing armpit hair and knitting a hemp beanie for my kid, Moondance.

Or, maybe you’re thinking I’ve been BORN AGAIN. I’ve gone so religious I suddenly realize I’ve been “called” to shelter my children from the devious fingers of the DEVIL – protect them from the unrighteous (you know, gays, drugees, drunks, atheists, agnostics, Muslims…[fill in the blank]) – um, yeah fucking right. That definitely isn’t it. I’d choose the deviant outliers over the judgmental born-agains any day of the week.

I have decided to homeschool Rocket because regular school was totally and completely not working. Check it out: he’s almost 6 years old and he can’t read. Doesn’t want to read. Has no interest in reading. This may be because he’s dyslexic, which wouldn’t shock any of us, considering he has a genetic disposition for it and has shown other symptoms, OR he just, um, has no interest in reading yet.

Either way, teachers are obsessed with kids LEARNING TO READ. Must LEARN TO READ. Must learn to read NOW. Must learn to read NOW or something is WRONG with you.

And Rocket is not learning to read.

And he is not an idiot. He knows the other kids are learning to read.

And he is sensitive.

Remember The Seal Incident? Yeah, the kid feels it when he can’t perform. He feels it when he’s let others down, acted poorly, failed to meet expectations.

The result of this scenario? My little guy comes home from school nearly every day with a migraine headache. Nearly.Every.Single.Day. Five years old. Wracked with anxiety.

Yeah, no thanks.

I opt out.


Please remove me from your mailing list.

Thank you for your time, traditional schooling, but we’ll be pursuing other options now.

We considered Waldorf or Montessori – too expensive. We considered sending him to regular school and just hoping he’d handle it one way or another, but there’s a problem with that approach, namely that every day, Rocket walks away with one message: “I’m not good enough. I’m not as smart as the other kids… What is wrong with me?” And I’m pretty sure that message will play over and over and over until finally he gets tired of the sound of that noise, gets tired of the feelings it triggers…tired of the whole thing…fed the hell up…and then the tape will probably play a new tune, maybe going something like this: “Screw school. I hate it. What I want is the HELL OUTTA HERE as soon as humanly possible and until that’s possible, I’ll just sit here and mess with the other kids, sniff glue, and/or work on my Early Expulsion Strategic Plan.”

So there you have it. I’m quitting work, returning to grad school and homeschooling my son.

That’s it. That’s all I got. My shit’s spilled.

Good lord I am not the homeschool type. But what the hell am I supposed to do? I’m no genius, but shit, even I can see that some things just aren’t working.

This was not, ever, in my plan. From my perspective, the payoff for the toddler years is that when they’re over, you get to send the kid to school all day – in another building – bye bye. But this was clear. I had to reassess.

I’m just trying to do what’s best for my little guy. Trying to find something that works.

And relying heavily on the fact that it’s kindergarten. I mean shit, how hard can it be?

I remember kindergarten. We cut out shapes and laughed at the kids who wet themselves. Oh wait. Maybe that was my first year in the dorms. Whatever.

We’ll survive.

  • kim

    You are amazing. Big kisses.

  • Shel

    Janelle, we homeschooled for several years(then last year was when we went the Montessori route)..my oldest has ADHD, mild Tourette’s and other issues…my middle one hated school so I homeschooled her too. I am not the “type” either to homeschool but I did it! I think Rocket will really excel at home if he is struggling so much at school. You know him better than anyone!
    If you need any resources in the area, let me know. I don’t know if you got my email, (I think you were away camping!) but the girls and I would love to meet ya’ll before school starts! PS I think all the decisions you are making are brave and wonderful, you are a wise woman and Momma! 🙂

  • Dee

    I am sure you will do a fabulous job. I’m kinda doing the opposite of you. I’m heading back to school and am going to stop homeschooling. Heh.

  • luella

    just wanted to chime in that my parents (who are also not really the type) homeschooled me for a couple years and it went fabulously well…its a lot of work (obviously) but so is everything about parenting. and i loved it. they didn’t use a set curriculum, since that wasn’t working for me at school, but kind of let me take the lead in what i was interested in.
    my amazing mom (who watched my althea once a week) actually just brought me a folder full of my ‘work’ from ‘2nd grade’ homeschool year that she had saved…its HILARIOUS!! so, keep some stuff to show Rocket later.
    and kudos for you for doing what is going to work for your kid, even though its hard. i teach public elementary school, and there are some kids that the system just is NOT working for.

  • Kateri Von Steal

    Also chiming in…

    He’s in kindergarten and not showing interest in reading….
    Doesn’t seem like the HUGEST DEAL to me.
    Yes, he does need to learn it… eventually… Let’s say… before the start of 3rd grade?
    But, Kindergarten? Come on now.

    I think you could do homeschool kindergarten and keep him up to speed, and maybe you will teach him, or encourage him in a NEW way, that he will want to read.

    Have you tried getting him a LeapFrog Reader? (look into it, they aren’t too expensive, and it may help.

    And, when you feel he is better prepared to enter school… and not feel put down by everyone (which is wrong, and I hate that about public education) then you can decide then if you want to put him back in.

    Don’t worry… You haven’t lost your marbles.
    You are concerned for your kid… Is his name really Rocket? I love it…
    Concern is better than some people have for their children….

    Take a breath, take one step at a time, and you’ll make it…where you ask? Where you are supposed to be.


  • Jess

    This last year, six months in, I pulled my two out and homeschooled them. Gabe especially. Kindergarten is supposed to be fun, and he was miserable. The kind of miserable where his sensitive, pathetic self would come home every day and WEEP. And the anxiety. It was awful.

    I’m SO NOT the homeschool type either, but it was best for my kids at the time. I say you’re awesome for listening to what he wasn’t saying, and doing what’s best for him in spite of how different from your plans it may be.

  • Tammy

    You may want to find a charter waldorf. They have one in Sacramento. It’s free. It’s public school. But Waldorf says a kid SHOULD NOT READ until 10 years age or so. I personally disagree, but it is a philosophy that matches Rocket’s needs.

    I hope you can find one!!!

  • Kar

    Good for you! I wish you the best. Although my boys attend public school, I homeschooled my daughter from grade 7-12.

    My oldest, now 11, didn’t learn to read until he was 7.5 years old. We thought he’d never learn. One day it just clicked. Within 6 months he was reading at a Jr high school level. In less than a year he was at a high school level. His teacher could not keep enough books around. Now at age 11 he has read all the Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Eragon and Lord of the Rings series multiple times.

  • dani

    The Boy is 9 and can barely read. He will be in fourth grade and is reading on *maybe* a beginning second grade level.

    He is dyslexic. We had him tested in second grade. He also has a reading comprehension deficit, a math reasoning deficit, and a short term memory deficit (which really makes the whole dyslexic thing ten times worse). That being said, he’s not retarded. All those deficits make it sound that way…but you would never know he had all that shit clogging his brain.

    I’ve thought of doing the same thing as you. Really. The Boy isn’t sensitive in the traditional sense….he keeps everything bottled up. Stoic. A rock. And then he acts out in other ways. I fear what he will do as he gets older.

    Parenting sucks. This particular issue has been THE most difficult I’ve dealt with to date. The emotional toll it’s had on The Boy along with me is deep. And wouldn’t you know, fucking school is about to start again.

    I wrote about it here: http://littlefistsworld.blogspot.com/2010/04/struggle.html

    I have more to say…but when I sit down to say it I get lost on where to begin. You ain’t alone, girl. Not by a long shot. Not all of us blog moms have kids that are reading by the time they are nine months old. Sometimes they aren’t even nine years old.

  • Jennifer K

    I consider myself only slightly crunchy (granola), but decided, after suffering through Kindergarten with my oldest daughter, that regular school was not the path for us. It feels great to not be a slave to the district’s schedule; to not have to force my child to do hours of homework after an entire day of “learning” at school; to not have to teach something in the bland, prescribed way that is supposed to be best for everyone else. We do what we want, when we want and how we want. It’s so empowering as a parent. We are their first teachers. It makes sense. You can do it. It won’t be easy. You can do it.

  • Shan

    The key to successful homeschooling, I figure, is to sometimes think of them as someone else’s kid. That’s what I did when the girls were trying my patience recently (eh, yeah, three minutes ago).