Why I Withdrew My Kid From School

By | August 27, 2013
Bonbon Break

School pin

I’m certain that I won’t remember everything about parenting my young children, but there are definitely some pivotal moments/days that will go down in the great book of Grandma Hill’s Stories.

Yes, I will be Grandma Hill.

Anyways, yesterday was just such a day.

I haven’t blogged about this yet because I was still so uncertain about what to do. I didn’t want to be in the position of asking for advice when I had such a loud, clamoring intuition ringing in my head. Which is why I refrained from sharing the severity of the problem with my own MOTHER, whose opinion means the world to me.

I had to come to this on my own–ok, with my husband.

With the exception of two days, Coco has had an absolute horrible time at school. As in, every morning she has a meltdown and pretty much an anxiety attack about me leaving her.

The first few days I had to stay for at least two hours in the classroom. I figured it was ok, as the teacher could use more eyes and hands in her classroom. As long as I was present, Coco was fine.

Whenever I tried to leave, she would run out of her classroom blowing past her teacher and dissolve into a crazy slapping rage if anyone tried stop her.

This was not my daughter.

first day of school

Obviously, she has not been the perfect kid, but I’ve always been relieved that my girl never became the fit-throwing type. [with the exception of one, full-on fit at a grocery store when she was two.]

Not so, anymore. Her behavior has been somewhere between the Exorcism of Emily Rose and an extremely hungry pregnant woman.

In other words: scary.

All along I had an intuition that it was related to all the recent changes in her little life, especially school. I questioned whether putting her in T-K (a brand new grade) was even wise. But I needed her to go. She needed to be busy, stimulated, and occupied.

I needed it.

But there was this voice. A nagging voice that told me it wasn’t the right place or the right time.

After a huge meltdown on Sunday when we broached the subject of school, we had a big talk. We prayed, we examined our options, and we decided that we should give her a two week trial period. I felt good about it. Maybe she’d acclimate with a little more time?

And then yesterday happened. Meltdown after meltdown. Three hours I was there. Multiple struggles, multiple teachers trying to intervene, and multiple attempts for me to leave her there.

Um, it’s really hard to walk away when your child is SLAPPING a complete stranger who is trying to calm her down. Like, seriously? What would YOU do?

The defining moment was when I was told to walk away and let the professionals deal with it.

But…the professionals don’t know my daughter. They don’t know that she has NEVER done something like this before. That she would normally die of embarrassment if someone outside our family saw her being naughty.

Coco was hanging onto the gate, screaming bloody murder for Mommy.

That’s me. The words were like knives. I’m not being dramatic.

Two different teachers tried to calm her down. I kept my head down and walked to the end of the building, where I hid.

I stood there for five minutes. I listened to her scream, “You’re the worst teacher EVER!!” Bawling for mommy to take her home.

I started sobbing. It was like watching my kid being tortured. Yah, she was exhibiting horrible behavior, but the fear was real.

Then I saw the principal and everything became so clear.

“Do this, NOW!” I heard that noisy bell ring.

I went to her office (which, by the way, was my first time in a public school principal’s office). In tears, I told her how hard the last two weeks have been. I told her I have a sick feeling every time I leave her in the morning.

We talked about her age, the changes in our life, and do you know what that principal said?

She took all my fears–all those intuitions and put them in a nice little Mason jar for me. With chalk paint on it.

“She’s not ready,” she said.

Here I was about to argue my “crazy” case for pulling her out, and she beat me to it. Then she said something that further blew my mind:

“My own daughter wasn’t ready for T-K and I’m the principal of the school. I pulled her out.”


I truly believe that it is in the most unconventional places that we hear God’s voice. For me, it’s been in airport security, during an ultrasound, and on the operating table.

Why can’t I freaking come to the miraculous conclusions on the quiet and safe seat of my couch–with my morning Joe? Why  do I have to go through such horrendous and exhausting rigamorle to arrive at the right answer?

I think it has something to do with my personality. I have a feeling I would hog the glory. The credit  wouldn’t go where it should.

That’s what I believe, especially after yesterday. I like to think that I know quite a bit. But this was a piece of life that had me stumped. I needed divine intervention. I needed the writing on the wall.

When it’s your kid, it’s different. The decision is weighed in gold and anchored to the bottom of the sea. If you screw this up, the whole ship sinks. You lose everything. And it is all. your. fault.

Holy  cow.

It was easy as pie. Sign a form, take her home. (I kinda sorta skipped the part where I called my husband and asked for his opinion.)

We walked home. She told me that her heart wasn’t beating as fast. “Mommy, my heart hurt and was going so fast at school!”

Just kill me again.

We walked home, hand in hand. “I’m sorry I was naughty with the teachers. I was scared.”

I opened our door and announced that Coco was no longer a student at our neighborhood elementary school. My husband’s response?

“Good! This isn’t right!”

When God orchestrates a change, He takes care of every person. We all came to the same conclusion at the same time. I call that grace.


Starting today I’ll be doing some homeschool. I’ll be working my booty off at making my daughter secure. Making her confident. But the time frame is hers. I’m not pushing it.

I hope to put her in Kindergarten next year. I hope that she is ready. But yesterday I learned that we have to be flexible and gracious as parents. We put her needs above our own. Sure, life would be WAY easier if she was occupied in school five days a week, six hours a day.

Easier on me.

But what about her tender little heart?

The other day she asked Jesus to “light up her heart” and told me she had a new, bright, and shiny heart. It’s up to me to make sure that heart sparkles like it should. I can cultivate a place where that heart grows bigger and brighter. And that is the most important thing in our life right now.

We made the right decision. And I am thankful to have such astounding confirmation.

But…yah, I needed a few glasses of wine last night. No shame here. Just a mom trying to figure it out.

Mercies are new every morning. Thank God.

I have some major issues to address. Like slapping people in authority. But more than that, I have to show her that all is ok. That she is safe.

Have you ever had something like this happen with your kids?

59 thoughts on “Why I Withdrew My Kid From School

  1. Andrea B (@goodgirlgonered)

    Oh how horrible that must have been for you both. I totally understand why you tried, though, sometimes you do think it will pass, etc. But you knew, in your gut, and the words from the teachers and your child got you there. And then the reminder from the principal got you there. Well done, mama.

  2. Emily

    This is so lovely, and I’m crying all over myself. Good for you! Good for Coco! Good for that principal (if I knew her, I would give her a huge hug). It’s okay to not be ready. I’m sorry that your life is going to get tougher for sure. Homeschool is no joke, but I’m happy for you and your family that you listened to your daughter and to yourself and that your husband is on board, too. Thank you for sharing this heartfelt, raw post.

  3. Carrie

    I had a similar experience. I too will be teaching my daughter at home! I’m scared to death but I know it’s what is the right thing to do. Best wishes to you! You can DO this! You’ve already made the hardest decision!

  4. christina

    so, so, SO good. thank you for sharing this process that you went through! somehow what you said about hearing God in unconventional places and the fact that he does come through in our desperate times is a comforting reminder to my heart. and yes, praise God that his mercies are new every day! your mama heart blesses me =)

  5. Andrea

    That is so good that you recognized this and are able to allow her that extra year that will probably do wonders for her. I am terrified, my daughter just turned 5 this week and starts Kindergarten next Tuesday.. she will take a school bus, has to do a bus transfer and will be the last one dropped off on the way home.. I pray every night that she will be ok, and if she isn’t I am not going to push her and we will arrange our schedules to be able to make her feel as comfortable as possible. They will tell us what they need.. good luck with everything, hugs to you and your daughter!

  6. Caryn/The Mid Life Guru

    Hello former Roommate. I just took off my blogger hat and put on my school board hat. T-K was thought up by the legislators to ease in to the new kindergarten birthday cut off date of September 1 in 2014. It was a solution to keep teachers’ jobs and to relieve the stress of parents who didn’t want their kids to start a year later because of their birthday. The main reason the cut off date was changed is because most children are not ready emotionally-physically-socially for kindergarten at 4 years old but their parents felt compelled to still send them because the law said they could. Changing the date makes it easier for parents to allow their children to develop before sending them off to school. You did absolutely the right thing for Coco and your family. Work with her and have fun getting her ready for when she is ready. P.S. Neither TK or Kindergarten are mandatory. Enjoy practicing your numbers/ABC’s/colors/letters. ????

  7. Aleta

    Oh wow… my heart was hurting just reading what you and your daughter went through. I’m glad everyone was on the same page when the page had to be turned. Blessings. You will be a fantastic teacher for your daughter!

  8. Julie

    So glad you are at peace with your decision. And, so glad the principal of your school had the wisdom to accept that a student was not ready for them. Sometimes, the “professionals” just can’t accept this fact. If there’s been recent upheavals in her life, she may still be adjusting. She’s obviously young. A year from now, she may walk into kindergarten and hardly look back.

    Has she experienced time away from you and your husband? If not, this next year is the time to give her a few hours a week to start getting used to that. This is my first exposure to your blog, so I do need to read up on everything that has been happening in your family’s life, so please forgive me for not knowing extenuating circumstances.

    Meanwhile, expose her to little learning experiences this year. Knowing her colors, numbers, letters, tying her shoes, her address and phone number, and starting to read small words will put her on a par with the other kindergartners. Good Luck! ????

  9. Ragan

    Brilliant job, Momma! Way to stick up for what you know in your heart is right. I have 4 wonderful children. When our baby boy was 6 we took him to a specialist (your getting the extremely short version!) that told me I was putting words in his mouth and to stop doing that and basically go away! Then had the nerve to call us, on Mother’s Day no less, and tell me he wanted to operate on my son next day! I laughed and told him he wasn’t touching my son..he then says “fine! We will do it your way!” Another specialist at Mayo in Rochester told us he would have been irreversibly paralyzed if we hadn’t continued to purse our “intuition”! Hang tough things will get easier! One note though, your little beauty understands her actions weren’t acceptable behavior, she might also feel better if she “wrote” an apology note to the teachers and principal. It may help her not feel embarrassed when she returns next year and give a good/enjoyable reason to return to the school. A kind of desensitization, if you will. Maybe take her to play on the swings and things while school is out too? Just a thought…

  10. Delia the Semi-Domesticated Mama

    Good for you. I had a similar experience last year with Mase. He started in TK and after 3 weeks I pulled him out. It was horrible. He was having panic attacks and was inconsolable. I kept him home for a month and then he went back to regular preschool 3 days a week for 4 hours. He was comfortable there and the longer 6.5 hour 5 day a week TK class was just too much. Yesterday he started kindergarten. No tears, no panic, nothing but smiles when I dropped him off. Lesson learned- always follow your gut.

  11. Elaine A.

    Oh goodness, I’m so sorry you both had to go through that!! But she is young yet and that is a lot of time away from Mommy and home! K goes 3 days a week from 9-2:30 and she is almost 4… Anyway, it doesn’t matter what my girl does because ALL kids are different and of course you have to do what is right for your little girl.

  12. Jeanne

    It must have been heartbreaking to see your daughter like that. You did the right thing… sometimes they are just not ready.

  13. Chris Carter

    Oh Hilary!! This must have been just SO hard for you!! That precious little Coco too! I am so SO glad that God shined His Light of Discernment and Grace on you and your family through this principal.

  14. Lesley Myrick

    Beautiful post, Hillary. I admire you for doing the right thing for Coco, even if it goes against what others think you “should” be doing. Mommy high-five!

  15. Maria Chilson

    I think you did the right thing, when she is ready she won’t even notice if you are there. I am sorry it was a difficult path to get to the right answer to your help your daughter. Good Luck with the home schooling. How does she do in other settings with out you, has she ever been with nonfamily members and not having you there?

  16. Andrea

    This made me cry. So many people don’t worry about their tender little hearts…they worry more about their free time. Obviously you are doing a fabulous job when she lets Jesus light up her heart. Thank you for knowing your baby and not being bullied into something you knew was wrong. Maybe homeschool is a lifestyle change, maybe it’s a gift of an extra year you get to love on your daughter and help guide her where she needs to go. Good for your husband, too. More mommies need the support of good daddies who trust them and support them. Thanks for sharing!

  17. We Make Homeschooling Stylish

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  18. Rosie

    That’s awesome, Hill. I am not a Momma yet but these words speak volumes to me even now.

    Thank you for your raw honestly and for sharing your heart. It has blessed me more than I can put into words.

  19. Kimberly @ Red Shutters

    Oh, what a tough, tough place to be in. Good for you for listening to yourself and doing what is right for your daughter right now. We’re all rooting for you.

  20. Janice

    Wow. Beautiful post. Although I’m sorry that you both had to go through such heart hurting time, it was something that I think God needed you both to do to become stronger in the end. Have a wonderful homeschool year this year!

  21. Linda White

    I don’t know what T-K is but it sounds like what we have called Pre-K. I don’t believe it is required. And most kids who are that age aren’t ready if they have been at home with a stay at home mom for the reason that they aren’t away from Mom very much. I can totally understand and especially if she is an only or oldest child. Mine were all ready for Kdg. because I have 4 and they watched each other go to school and wanted to be like them, Even the oldest watched our neighbor friend going and saw the school bus go by every morning and evening and wanted to ride it! Feel blessed that you have another year to prepare her and enjoy her at home!

  22. Tannith

    I didn’t go to kindergarten because I hated it. I didn’t slap anyone but I had my own issues. I came home the first day and when asked how I liked it replied “its bad they may you take naps!!!!” My parents figured it wouldn’t be a big deal until I started waking other kids up at nap time because I was bored. Rather than let me read or color or do a puzzle they tried for two weeks to make me nap and punished me when I wouldn’t. My dad finally decided it wasn’t worth it for anyone. ???? some kids love it some kids don’t. Kindergarten doesn’t define the rest of your education success. And I still hate naps, and sadly so does my kid.

    best wishes to you guys.

  23. Dawn @ PricklyMom

    I’m choking back the lump in my throat because this happened to me and my son two years ago. But I didn’t put two and two together until FEBRUARY, but when I did, I sucked up my own needs and took him out for the rest of the year. I want to cry when I think about what I made him go through.

  24. Kathy

    Best decision! My 5th child, when I of course, knew everything about parenting, just could not acclimate to 4-k. We gave it a month. Same deal…I stayed or he fell apart. When I withdrew him, he was once again the happy little guy I knew.The following year, he managed 3 mornings with his best friend, and was just fine thereafter. He is 31 now, and seems perfectly well-adjusted. Just follow your heart. You know her best, and I am pretty sure she won’t have a life of fighting authority figures!

  25. Frances

    You did the right thing! This must have been heartbreaking to do but each child is different and moves in their own pace. What a great, loving, thoughtful Momma!

  26. HouseTalkN

    I’m so sorry you and Coco went through this! I remember trying to tiptoe around telling the parent of one of my students that she might not be ready…I’ll never forget the relief I felt when the father said, “We are in no hurry to rush her childhood. Can we just wait another year?”

    You know your girl best but it can be so freaking hard!

    Sending you big love, buddy.

  27. Victoria

    My daughter has been like this her whole life. She started K year just fine, with only minimal meltdowns, but then her dad deployed and she didn’t handle it well. She only had two months until summer break when he left so we stuck it out. By this time her teacher knew her well so she could talk her out of her meltdowns before they started most days. Fast forward to the beginning of 1st grade and she was having her breakdowns almost daily. I would walk her out to the playground, the bell would ring, she’d grab for my hand and I could feel her tense up before she even got to the line. So about a month into school I decided it was time to homeschool her. She’s in 3rd grade now, we are hopefully going to try and put her back in school for 4th grade. I pray by the time school begins next year she will handle it well and not have anymore meltdowns. Good luck to you! It’s good to know that other people are dealing with similar issues and that my child isn’t the only one.

  28. Miss Bonnie

    This is awesome!! You made the right choice….not every child is the same and they all handle changes differently and at their own pace. My daughter went skipping off to the first day of preschool with a smile on her face and barely said goodbye. She immediately caught on to everything she was taught and today she is a Junior in HS, taking all AP classes, doing an internship at a large San Diego hospital, is a black belt in tang soo do and a karate instructor. My 3 boys? ONE HUNDRED PERCENT DIFFERENT!!!

  29. Brenna

    I did this same thing with my daughter. I pulled her out of “pre-school” because she was so terrified and not ready. I homeschooled her for Kindergarten and 1st grade. By the time 2nd grade rolled around, she was ready to go to public school. She starts 5th grade in a week. She LOVES school now! You did the right thing. Mommy knows best. xo

  30. Vicki

    Great job, momma! Parenting has so many challenges, especially with our firsts! I struggled with where to put D, my first, since I knew the regular classrooms would just spaz him OUT & thankfully God provided a wonderful place to give my child the time he needed to grow while still giving him the opportunity to be away from me for awhile. He just turned 7 years old & this will be the first year that he will be going to school full-time. It has been a crazy journey but I am much more confident that if we had to put him in a public school setting, his foundation is SOLID because we gave him the gift of time. That principal ROCKS; trust that the Lord will give you the tools & resources to give C a GREAT year & rest in His provision!

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  32. Tiffany

    Sorry you and Coco had such a rough time! I’m glad you found the right decision for your family.

  33. Zakary

    You are an awesome mom. My son used to act like that when I would try and leave him in the church nursery. CHURCH. For 45 minutes.

  34. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

    I’m glad you all found grace together. I think this story has the happiest of endings. Ellen

  35. Sasha

    My son began having terrible anxiety and depression after a horrible experience with his fourth-grade teachers. He is now in seventh-grade and school is still miserable for him. When I saw how he went from the happy, carefree boy he had been all summer to the quivering, sobbing mess he has been every day since school started two weeks ago, I finally made the decision to homeschool him. I’d considered it for the last couple of years, but this time it was like a voice whispered in my ear, “DO IT!” Unfortunately I can’t pull him out immediately; there is a waiting period after you apply for your homeschool permit here, but I can’t wait for the day he comes home. I wish I had done this three years ago. Good for you!

  36. summerbird

    How incredibly blessed you are to be able to take her out of school and keep her home with you. There is nothing like hugging your crying child and feeling their body relax against yours and their heart slow as they know they are safe in your arms. We went through this when my little one was 15months old, I had no choice but to send her to creche as I need to work full time. My heart broke in a million pieces. It took a full month for her to settle but after 2weeks the crying only lasted for a minute. I would hide outside the classroom and listen and only leave when she was settled. The teachers were great, but to have a baby cling to you like her whole existence depends on you (which it does really) and to have her pried off me and then swallowing back a sob I would whisper “i love you” in her ear before turning my back and walking away….she will be 3 in December and that first month still haunts me. My saving grace is that after that initial month she loved school, she has blossomed and thrived and matured so much and now looks forward to going to school. BTW..I still cry in the car every day after dropping her off.

  37. Keely

    Whoa, that must’ve been wicked tough. But yay you for knowing your kid and doing the right thing for her!

  38. Rhoda Jane Olmstead

    I am sooooooo with you. You did the absolute right thing. I almost started crying as I read. Praise the Lord for how he led you to a decision you can be happy with.

  39. Heather

    Hi there! Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m Heather and I have a question about your blog! My email is Lifesbanquet1(at)gmail.com ????

  40. Barry

    I didn’t get the full impact of how serious this was until you used the phrase “an extremely hungry pregnant woman”. Ha. jk you never slapped me (though I know you wanted to!). Seriously, though, this is a good ending reached with the very best of direction.

  41. Lisa H.

    I got here via “Lasso the Moon,” and I am SO glad I read this. My son adjusted to being left at school fairly easily, but he has a terrible time behaving while he is there. This week, we had the final meeting to place him in special education kindergarten next year. As they described the class to me, I knew it was the perfect place for him, but it was still SO hard to know this is what he needed. I am so happy you found a solution that works for your family–those little ones need to know we’ve got their backs!

    1. hillary

      Thanks for stopping by! It is so hard to arrive at the right decision for your child, but once you do the peace is unbelievable!

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  43. Ingrid

    Wow. Thank you for writing this post. How heart-wrenching to go through for all of you. I will be homeschooling my son. We tried a preschool, and while he was able to not meltdown after the first few days, he just never wanted to play with the other kids. He was SO thrilled when we pulled him out, I knew it was the right thing for him. He knows what he needs if only I’ll listen. Good for you for listening to that still small voice inside that told you it wasn’t the right fit for your daughter. And how wonderful for her to experience her parents standing up for her and changing what is so desperately not working for her.

  44. Allison Hart

    Coco is lucky that you are her mother. It’s still only August and the school year is a long one. She may need a whole year home with you, or maybe in a few months she’ll be ready for some kind of part time program. Either way, if you keep following your instincts, you’ll make the right choices for her.

  45. Adrienne

    Hilary, I’m bawling. God working through this whole thing gives me chill bumps all over. Good job, mama!

  46. Stace

    I just found your blog and I must say you’re a breath of fresh air! Thank you for being real and honest!

    I had a very similar situation with one of our daughters and it never ended – she’s now a successful homeschool graduate!

    We do what we have to for our children – the toughest part is ignoring the outside voices that ignite the guilt and pandemonium on the inside!

  47. Mary

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through this, but what a beautiful lesson your daughter has learned. She knows that she can trust you to make the right decisions, to protect her heart, to watch out for her and to always listen to her needs. Praying you will have a peace-filled bonus year with her at home with you.

  48. Leigh Ann

    I always hope that when things like this come up with my children, that I’ll have the intuition to see the direction we must take. I tend to get let timelines and “the way things are” get in the way of “the way things should be.” Good for you, and enjoy your time with her. (I just sent my 2 oldest to kinder!)

  49. Kathy Radigan

    What a great post!! I think it’s so great that you heard her and made a choice that was right for you all. We gave our December baby an extra year and it was the best thing we did for him!!! I’m going to send this post to my sister, who has been feeling iffy about sending my nephew who is still 4 to kindergarten. Not to tell her not to do it, but to show her that you can try it, and that your child will let you know whether or not they are ready!!! I love that she said her heart wasn’t beating fast anymore. She knew she wasn’t ready!! Good for you!! Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  50. Stacia

    Aw poor mama and poor Coco! I felt that way when I first left Ava at preschool, she would scream and cry but thankfully that all ended shortly after I left. You just have to know what’s right for your kid and it sounds like this is exactly right for your family. It’s ok, you tried… she just wasn’t ready. It’s funny she mentioned that her heart was beating so fast. That’s something I tell Ava when she’s scared, to breath, focus on your heart, slow it down, etc. We use that for things like shots and whatnot. I feel for you and I’m so glad to hear that everyone is much happier now!

  51. nicole

    Kudos to you. That takes some major strength on your part. And I do hope she loves school one day, and that you can go back to that one because that principal is A-freakin’-mazing for making that easier for you and supporting your decision.

  52. Janis

    You trued she tried..you didnt act in haste.. The only time something happened like this is with breatfeeding. we couldnt and a nurse finally said “what would you do if you were at home with your daughter and she was hungery? Feed her! So i fed her formula!! We have to learn to trust our instincts. Its hard. Parenting doesnt usually follow one path..

  53. Nikki

    Kudos to you mom on making a very difficult decision to do what is best for your daughter. Thankfully both my boys have always wanted to go to school and I never had to deal with issues like that. I would have been in a world of hurt if they had because being a full time working single mom, I would never have had the opportunity to home school my children…be thankful you have that as an option.

  54. JD @ Honest Mom

    Good for you, sweet mama. I am so glad you arrived at a great decision for your daughter and your family. I’m sure it’s hard to switch gears and go from – yay, my kid is in school every day! – to – yay, I’m homeschooling my kid! But you are an amazing mom and person and you got this, girl. Big hugs.


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