This little light of yours-Mama will let it shine!

motherhood and entrepreneurship

I’m interrupting our regular programming to chat about creativity and children. It has absolutely zero to do with getting your business ready for the holidays but everything to do with our lives as creatives and the compromises we sometimes make on our journey as parents and people until something comes along to wake us up.

Before I had children I knew exactly what I wanted for them. I wanted them to never feel bad about being different. I was a different kind of kid and growing up in an inner city the 9 year old girl who would rather read adult fantasy novels by herself is always the odd kid out. I wanted my children to be allowed to shine in their own individual way. I spent years unlearning the self-doubt that I learned in elementary school and promised myself my children would never be in the same position.

Fast forward a decade, a million decisions and choices later, so many of the things I would “never” do as a parent have already been crossed off the list. At the top of my parenting neverdo list was: “No public school ever.” I was going to be one of those blissful Amanda Soule type homeschooling mothers. We would spend our days exploring the woods, doing art, learning through play and our nights crocheting by the fire while bread baked and my children played with their handmade toys.


While I stayed true to so many of the things I wanted for my girls-breastfeeding them, cloth diapering, natural toys, organic food, a life full of music, dance and creativity- this year I sent my daughter to public school because it was the easy thing to do. The first year Ila was in school I sent her to the most incredible school ever. Since I don’t drive we took 11 buses a day (yes eleven, no I’m not exaggerating) with my then baby daughter in her sling, to take her there and we paid over 7,000 in tuition for her to go. It was a hard choice when there was a school a 5 minute drive away but we did it for two years. This year we couldn’t manage it and we enrolled Ila in the “best” public school in our city even though my heart was yelling NO at the top of its lungs. I was afraid public school would dim her light-which is so radiant:

At her school they don’t paint. They don’t dance. They barely sing. No one plays with the children to help them access their imaginations. I helped out with the Halloween class party in my sugar skull get up and it was the saddest thing ever. Their “party” took place at their desks, there was no music, the kids had no chance to play or interact, they were shushed when they laughed too loud. Last week I had my ten minute parent teacher interview and the teachers told me that Ila was a textbook case of ADHD because she had difficulty focusing on her work and if I did not want to medicate her then they basically didn’t have any ideas for how to help her function better in the classroom. This is the best public school available!

my heart is proud of me and cannot be broken, motherhood and entrepreneurship

The work she “can’t” focus on consists mainly of pixelated worksheets from the internet. How boring! Ila can sew, crochet, write pages of stories, has imaginary ghost friends named Ghostie and Ghostlina (who apparently are currently on a ten day vacation and missed terribly) and does art like the picture above. She has a head full of songs and a heart full of compassion and more creativity then seems possible for one small body to contain. But because she can’t be bothered to sit quietly in her seat there is obviously something wrong with her. Something so wrong they suggest medication. I was immediately reminded of this video I watched well before Ila was school aged on how schools kill creativity. All children deserve to dance.

I’m not sure yet what my solution is but I can’t have my child feeling less then the other students who obey easily. Like there is something wrong with her because she doesn’t fit the average. I have spent my whole adult life refusing to fit myself into a box just so other people could better understand me and encouraging others to take sledgehammers to the boxes that don’t fit their dreams. How can I possibly condemn her to mediocrity? Isn’t that the very thing that many of us creative entrepreneurs are working against? Sometimes I forget that we are the minority because we have built such an incredibly supportive creative community but so much of the world doesn’t seek excellence but sameness. Its not enough to embrace our own differences, we need children who are taught that who they are is okay, different is beautiful and their imaginations are the key to creating a better world for us all. If you can’t imagine it you can’t create it.

This whole situation was like being hit in the face with a pail of cold water. I need to make some changes so that I can give my girls their chance to shine. I want their childhoods to be filled with play and ways to express their creativity so that they love their “job” as much as I do. A child’s job is to be loved, explore, laugh, learn and grow-this cannot be done sitting numbly at a desk or by always doing what you are told. What do you think? Is nurturing our children’s creativity more important than teaching them obedience? If you were in my shoes what would you do?


  1. Sara says:

    Omg. I am so sorry! I have no advice because my daughter is still a baby. But my heart goes out to you. Please keep us updated. I am very afraid of public school now that there have been so many cuts, especially. 🙁

    • Jessika says:

      Thanks Sara, I know when times are tough economically the arts are the first to go in schools-which is sad for us all! I will absolutely keep you all updated on where we go from here, I think it might just be the beginning of a whole new adventure!

  2. Stacey says:

    I had plans for my daughter before she was born, too… unfortunately, a lot of them have been pushed to the side, some through my own decisions, others through nature’s. But I’ve held true to the plans & beliefs for her that I think should be most important – her education, building her creativity, growing her imagination.

    I think you can combine creativity and obedience, not necessarily at the expense of the other, but perhaps as complements instead. I look at what kids are doing in school these days and I’m horrified to think of sending my little girl into a world where she can’t be herself.

    I don’t know how the school system works where you are, but we’re lucky enough to have a school here that’s focused on art and creativity, without any additional cost (besides a 20 minute school bus ride to the small rural community it’s in). Maybe there’s something like that in your area… it just annoys me that kids aren’t getting the same opportunities we had growing up for expressing themselves creatively.

    Good luck 🙂

    • Jessika says:

      @Stacey I know what you mean-the idea of being stigmatized & bored out of being yourself is horrifying for me to contemplate. I think moving is going to be our main option-we’ve had a realtor come look at the house and have a meeting at the only Waldorf school in the province. I will do just about anything to make sure that she can go to a school that doesn’t think creativity should be medicated. I would love her to be more obedient in some ways-but I know I am never really obedient so she is learning from me;) In the long run it has served me well though!

  3. rikrak says:

    you are a wonderful, loving, thoughtful, kind kind, creative problem-solving mother, jessika – and your sweetie is so lucky to have you as her advocate, cheerleader & mommy. i know you’ll figure out what is best for all of you. and i’m sending good good wishes in the wind to you, nicey.

    you always inspire us, whatever the topic.
    thanks cutie.
    k. @ rikrak

  4. April says:

    Jessika, I am facing the EXACT SAME THING right now. Our elementary school is actually really great and they are helping her “catch up” because, you know, at six, she’s already behind her peers. Her self-confidence has plummeted and I’ve spent the morning researching home school programs even though I’m afraid I can’t manage it with my personality. I have no idea how to solve my problem either. My neighour concurs that a home school program would better suit her. My mother disagrees and suggested medication!

    My ten-minute-teacher-meeting turned into 45 minutes of concerns and relaying that the concepts just haven’t “gelled” with her yet…and that she sometimes gets so frustrated she cries.

    At least at this school they are allowed to hug the children, which was not allowed at our previous elementary school. There was also a rule of “no pants touching” and my daughter was particularly perplexed when no one would help her do up her pants. She now only wears yoga pants to school.

    It’s so frustrating. I don’t know how I can make time for my own work while figuring out how to home school and mother two other children besides. Maybe I just need to do it, or maybe I just need to stick it out?

    • Jessika says:

      @April I am so so sorry to hear this! The East Coast school system is not built for girls like ours-I’ve been trying to find a creative focused public school anywhere in the maritimes for us to move to but there is basically nothing. The only option is home school or private school-and I know that feeling of being trapped in between a rock and a hard place. I haven’t home schooled because I am not really that mom-not terribly patient and I always have so much on the go. When I have nothing on the go but parenting I am incomplete and unhappy. It’s not easy that’s for sure! I do feel that homeschooling Ila would be better then the situation she is in-the selfconfidence part is what is really pushing my decision. Seeing her little shoulders slumped and the heaviness in her step is torturous. Now I’m crying and I want to wrap my arms around you & your little girl-I don’t have the answers but know you are not alone!

  5. Bridgett says:

    First I want to say I’m so so sorry you are going through this! I’m just realizing that mainstream is not the best option. I fell into that cycle when I had Kendall and refused to go through the same with this one. I’m so tired of people saying different is bad and medicate them. Really gets me fired up! Just keep following your heart and your mama instincts. It will never lead you astray! PS – let’s chat via Skype…soon! xoxo

  6. Joy says:

    Hugs, Jess! I’m sorry that I don’t really have too much of an input since Jude is still so young… but when I was teaching in a private school – singing and games (and doodling) were such a huge part of my curriculum. The kids learned so much and to this day, they tell me that they’ll never forget some of the songs that we sang in class…

    I will keep you and the family in my thoughts as you transition to bigger and better things. Big hugs to your adorable girls!

  7. Erica says:

    What a tough situation, and I really feel for you and your daughter. The choices are so hard. I have been thinking about this so much lately. My son is incredibly bright, well beyond his 3.5 years and the public school options are problematic for various reasons. There are no feasible private schools around here either. In my case, I decided last week that I am going to dissolve my fledgling llc and focus on my kids and home school them. The choice seemed hard when I was in the process of making it, but now I feel liberated and excited.

  8. Tracey says:

    THis is why I’m an avid un-schooler. I refuse to let the public school system break my children. I almost have to wonder if public schools in mixed income areas are better funded than schools in WASP-Y areas. My girls go to PS, but we are in a mixed-income area, lots of rentals-transient in nature, but our school has some of the best programming. And they don’t cut the arts. Geez, my girls must be the most prolific artists/crafters the school has ever seen. They come home with a stack of art every week!

    I do believe nuturing our children’s creativity and ability to think analytically, to question your elders and teachers and not passively accept everything they say, to not be a sheep, to be a vibrant, alive, individual who does not conform to the status quo is waaaaay more important than teaching them to obey. NO issues with authority here, only close-minded laziness 🙂

    I don’t want my girls to sell themselves short or suppress who they are for anyone or any situation. Seriously, your situation infuriates me (esp with the whole medication). As parents, we are not sheep and we will not raise medicated, sheep as we are advocates for our children.

    Take it to the school board and let them know you are actively looking move out of the area to get her out of that school. They need to know the quality of teachers they have hired.

  9. Moxie Lisa says:

    My heart goes out to you. We put Gia in public school this year and it has really been good. Her private school was great but also strict so there isn’t much difference there. There are days when she gets a note home because she was “talking when the teacher was talking” and we talk to her about that. I have to agree with Stacy that I think you can have a good balance of obedience and creativity. Time for listening and a time for play.

    There are some horrible teachers out there but in my experience (for the most part) they are really trying to make due the best they can with what is put on them. I definitely don’t think I could do their job…especially these days!

    In the states, our schools need to be returned back to the local community and once that happens parents can be more involved with what happens and how things are taught.

    Just my humble opinion. 🙂

    • Jessika says:

      @Lisa-thank you for your comment! I love hearing your opinion:) There should absolutely be a time for listening/time for play-there needs to be a balance and I think kids need rules/boundaries in order to feel safe and loved. Its that being the whole focus and not balanced with the time for play, dance, creativity-laughter! I don’t think the problem is that she has horrible teachers-they are just tired. The responsibility is mostly in the hands of parents making their voices heard and being active in the school + school board. There is very little parent involvement or support for schools in Nova Scotia which is reflected in how overwhelmed and overworked everyone is! They had to cut reading programs in regional schools this year so most people think I am crazy for wanting my daughter to have access to art supplies & creative play. I want to be that champion for children and creativity in our public schools but I don’t feel able to take that on-most likely we will move so they can go to an art focused school or I will keep her home for a few years.

  10. Liz says:

    I feel your pain, Jessika and I am sorry you and your daughter are going through this. I too am a mommy of a very creative, very imaginative, and very energetic little girl. I too am against public school, and despite having our elementary school just 1 block away I opted to send her to Catholic School. Number 1 because we are Catholic, but number 2 because she is in Kindergarten and has art class, music class, science lab and has free play time during school. Yes, they teach the kids to be obedient..but they also teach them to be respectful and loving of others and accepting of individuality. They don’t stifle them. Her homework is creative, so she actually enjoys doing it. And me being the creative mom I am I encourage her at home to dance to the beat of her own drum. She paints, sings, dresses up, plays pretend and I love it and would NEVER want that to change. So you fight for what you know in your heart is right. Screw the mainstream and the teachers that classify creative children as ADD. It’s B.S.! And continue to do what you do at home. Who wants to be cookie cutter? Not me! Not my kid! and most certainly not yours – you are an awesome mom for even speaking your mind about it and fighting the current. Your daughter will grow up to be her own person – another creative soul like her mommy. =) All the best. xx

  11. Sarah says:

    Sorry to hear you’re going through a hard time with this. My daughter started Kindergarten this year and I am thrilled with her school. I am sending her to a school in the next community to ours (still within walking distance). The main reason is because of the focus on creativity in education. Art, music and language are their priorities. I’ve volunteered in the class and am so happy to hear the kids singing as they clean up or in answering their teacher. The teacher telling them to sing “louder” during Oh Canada.
    I live in an older neighbourhood and the public schools have been flagged to close because of low enrollment. But, her school had so many Kindergarten children they divided it into 2 classes! On the other hand the school in my community hasn’t had enough children in a Kindergarten class for 4 years. They can’t understand why everyone is choosing to go to the school in the next community. To me it’s very clear. Good luck with your journey.

  12. Tracey says:

    Jess-I’m so sorry that Ila and your family are going through this. We’ve had our share of good school years and bad and I do have to say the most you can do is be your child’s fiercest advocate, always.

    You need to follow your gut because you know her and what she’s capable of better than anyone on the planet.

    I spent my son’s entire year in 2nd grade picking him up from school at least once, sometimes twice, a week. The nurse would call, tell me he was sick and he needed to go home. I would rush over, pick him up and see that he was fine. He couldn’t sit still in the classroom and would tell me, repeatedly, he was bored.

    After talking with his teacher she told me that she wasn’t there to “entertain” him. Yet, she refused to allow me to send extra work in to keep him busy. How ridiculous is that? After several meetings the school agreed to test him for the gifted program. Mystery solved.

    He’s in a public school. The gifted program is, quite honestly, a waste of time except that it keeps him busy and keeps him moving throughout the day.

    I think the biggest challenge in in fighting the system so that your child has what they need to succeed. That’s not medication, that’s love.

  13. oh jessika, my heart goes out to you and your daughter. i have a hard time with hearing…medicate, medicate, medicate.

    i had planned on homeschooling my kids, until the birth of my 2nd set of twins, with them and running my own business, it would be unmanageable at this time. living in the city, i had researched all kinds of magnet / charter schools for my creative little beings. unfortunately we moved to a small town for financial and family reasons. art / creative / montessori based elementary schools are now 35+ minutes away and would be over 2 hours a day in the car. so i’ve settled for one of the local elementary schools. they do sing + art projects every day. it is working out for them now. in the future who knows.

    schools that don’t allow kids to be kids, should not exist in my mind.

    as mother’s we are our children’s only advocate, if we aren’t looking out for them, who will?

    follow your instincts and keep doing what you are doing! you are not alone.

    • Jessika says:

      And now I’m crying! Thank you all so much for your comments and virtual hugs-I am so glad I shared this with you (I wasn’t sure if I should!) and am humbled by your fierceness and generosity. I feel so much lighter and ready to move forward with all the changes and decisions I have to make now. I want to write book length comments to each of you but I’ll have to come back and respond after bed time. THANK YOU!!!!!

  14. jane says:

    it’s a tricky balance – as most of parenting is. i guess it depends on what you see school as being FOR. here in the sunnyUK, schools were 1st set up by churches to educate good little christians, and the state decided to step in so it could control what was being taught. so, education became more about training children in the skills needed to join the workforce. now, we don’t have 100% employment, or the need for a biddable supply of under-educated people to work in factories, people are re-assessing what they want their children to get from schools.

    as a creative and non-conforming child, i HATED school, was bullied and picked on etc, and vowed my children would have a better experience. i believe them to be creative articulate and thoughtful children. we have just pulled them from the local (state) school and put them into a church school because the school was not suiting them and they were being bullied etc. the church school still has to follow the National Curriculum, but they sing and dance, cook, paint, make things with plasticine (non-hardening modelling clay that is WAY superior to play-doh!). my children are 6 and 7, so years 2 and 3.
    school has to teach children the rules of behaviour and how to fit in (not conform) with society, and maybe that is what you need to think about re your daughter’s behaviour. it may be that she just needs to learn to sit quietly when asked, which is not the same as knocking the stuffing out of her. social skills and acceptable behaviour for the right environment are skills we all need. if you feel there needs to be more creative stuff going on for her, is there a craft club, or arty suff going on at lunchtimes or after school that she could join? or could you timetable it together? i often get mine to ‘help’ me cook, and we paint and colour together (oh! my expensive paints!), and they love my husband’s white-board.
    try not to let your own experience colour your understanding of your daughter’s, but accept that you know her better than her teachers, and help them to see what you can see. bring in her art-work or asks to volunteer during the school day, so you can be hands-on.
    most of all, know that just about every parent goes through this. children are incredibly resilient, and if it transpires after all the above that this is the wrong school, move her again.
    don’t give up on the school just yet – they have to get to know this beautiful child, and right now your job is to help them.
    i think being a parent is the most important job, and that’s why i am self-employed (and making NO money!) because i put my children first when this happens (or anything else for that matter!),stake some time out from your work to step back from everything and focus on how to resolve this.
    i was at TEDx in aldeburgh, UK, last weekend, and there was a great speaker who said (amongst other things) that dress causes our creativity to sit down. allow yourself some headspace, and your brain will come up with some creative solutions about how to help your daughter settle, and how to encourage her creativity nonetheless.
    i hope it goes well, please keep us informed.

  15. Melanie says:

    Oh Jessica! I wish I could take away your pain. On a positive…what a wonderful influence you are on your daughter. I believe that your voice will resonate the deepest – right down to her soul. This is hard for little ones to endure but you will help to make it right. My vote is to go for the Waldorf School. From what I know of it, it’s fantastic.

  16. Apolline says:

    I understand how u feel : i’m a school teacher and am really sad to see how the institution considers different is bad & packs 30 children in one class…
    i do my best for those children but am worried about my son when he’ll have to go to school…
    Have u considered…getting your driving license? I fought the invetable myself for years but worked hard and got it last year at 31!
    It’s never too late to learn even if you’re afraid of it : you’ll be able to overcome your fear (I have, so you can!) and drive your girls to school…and then come home to work!
    What do you think?

  17. Jess says:

    This is such a tough call!! I used to be a teacher and I hate what we have done to education in this country. What happened to teaching students to think for themselves, to explore and enjoy the process of learning something new? Oy vey, don’t get me started. I send my kids to public school because A) it’s what I can afford and B) I know they need the social interaction of being with other kids every day. Around here most of the home-schooling groups are probably not groups I would get along with well, and even if they would having kids at home all day would mean I lose my sanity and also don’t have a chance to earn my income. Yet I try to remind myself (and your post helped me do that, so THANK YOU) that the school system is far from perfect. I have to think of myself as my kids’ after-school club leader. I have to give them the creative exploration, the joy of learning and the chance of experiencing new things that they don’t get in school. I have to be the one to teach them to think and to be self-sufficient. It’s on me as a parent to fill in the gaps left behind by the school. Maybe you can give Ila enough of a gap-filler that she can make it through school and take as much from it as she can but then also have her chance to shine and thrive at home?

  18. Jen Schmidt says:

    Dear Jessika~
    My sister forwarded this post to me. I RELATE wholeheartedly to you. Keep the faith as you listen to your heart. I teach art at our local Montessori school on an as-need basis to enhance the children’s classroom time. My students WANT to know about the artists and art that I present. They WELCOME the experience. They ask a lot of questions and have a lot of ideas. Someone once said to me that “success” in this American society often revolves around those who make “a lot of money”…. We see this in high profile personalities whatever the industry but the truth is, we all contribute and must fight the urge to conform. It’s a road less traveled but the reward is sweeter in the end.

  19. Allisa says:

    Jessica, dear friend-
    I am so sorry to hear you’re going through this! Your girls are so incredibly lucky to have a mama as thoughtful, wise, & loving as you. I’ve only known you for a short bit of time, but you’ve always struck me as a gal who follows her heart & gut…and makes things work. And the end result is just pure goodness & inspiration!
    Truly, you touch so many people and this story is another example.
    I’m sending hugs and supportive thoughts your way as you make your way through it all.

    As I mentioned before, I taught special education for 7 years…and when faced with the stigma/mis-understanding/ignorance of kids not fitting into the education system, I worked more as an advocate than anything else. I thought to myself that I’d want my own children in a school with teachers trained in special education…purely because they know how to celebrate ‘different.’ And now with my almost four year-old we’re facing something similar to you. Every class situation has been at a loss with how to address his creativity & inquisitiveness. He was building Eiffel Towers out of Legos but often left to play alone when they couldn’t engage him in their strict lesson plans. It broke my heart. And still does. And probably will until we find a place where we feel that, like you, he can really shine!

    Thank you for sharing your story…and your heart.


  20. Isa says:

    I was horrified when I read this. I just can’t imagine a school that doesn’t allow children to paint. I just can’t. When I got to Ila’s painting I was full on crying for your sweet girl. How dare the school crush her spirit and make her feel bad for being herself. Yes all children need to learn boundaries but they need to be allowed to express themselves in the place where they spend so many hours with people who are not their family.
    My son is 3.5 and just started preschool in September. He goes in the afternoons just 3 hours a day and already I am fighting to hold on to my precious boy as I know him to be. In our case it’s not so much the school more the other children! They are rough, rude and most haven’t been taught manners. All my hard work is unraveling before my eyes as he turns into a carbon copy of his peers. We live in the city (London, UK) and are planning to move further out maybe even out of the UK mainly because of the schools. Homeschooling is not as commonplace here, I have thought about it but without the same community and support network it’s not really an option for us.
    I hope you find a solution that suits you and your family. I’d love it if you gave us an update to see how you got on. Hugs my friend xx

  21. Debra says:

    You are such a creative, generous, and compassionate soul..I’m sure you will find something that works for you both. It is so frustrating when schools slash art programs and prioritize fitting in the box rather than encouraging creativity and passion. Have you explored a Montessori option? Although I think they would be in a private school category.Good luck to you. xo

  22. Erin says:

    Coming from the experience I got from my last job, I can be the first to tell you that meds and ADHD are recommended way too often to kids that don’t fit the mold of the normal quiet and unimaginative child. What would I do? Keep being the amazing parent you are and feed her all the creativity her heart desires while ignoring those teachers.

  23. Katrina says:

    So sorry you’re going through this right now Jessika. It sounds like you’ve really done some soul-searching and will absolutely make the right decision – you know your kids better than anyone else ever can. Big hugs! Thinking of you & your beautiful family.

  24. Johanna says:

    She only gets to be a child once. The things you do with her today will shape her for the rest of her life (who today isn’t battling the crap we encountered as children?). If I were you, I’d trust my heart, not put her on meds, find a good home or un-school situation and oh-so-carefully protect her joyous and creative spirit. In a good learning situation, obedience isn’t necessary. Creativity is easily lost and should be nurtured and protected. Hell, anybody can be obedient, but who really WANTS to be?!

  25. Gina says:

    Oh Jessika, huge hugs to you! And wow, what you did for your daughter, 11 buses a day? O M G!! Mother of the year right there.

    Well, I have a child with ADD. With him, there was really no mistaking it even though we were in denial for a long time about it. He’s a flourishing almost 13 year old now. Of course I can’t give a suggestion based on what little I know, however from what you’re describing, it sounds like she is bored – as in, she knows the material well enough that it’s not challenging her. That is so easy for teachers to misconstrue as ADD or ADHD.

    My middle son is the same way, loves to be creative, always thinking and coming up with new things. He was easily bored at school but we worked with his teachers so now he gets to participate in these ‘different’ activities (I wouldn’t call it gifted, it’s more of an extra curricular type of thing that is more challenging for them). The best solution no matter what, is to work with the teachers. That’s assuming the teachers are of the type that are willing to work with you and truly care. If they do, they will make whatever modifications they can in the classroom. The type of teacher is HUGE on how it impacts your child.

    Plus there are tons of things the teachers can do to help her in the classroom without medication, regardless if she truly was ADHD. There’s preferential seating, visual cues, timed work environments with a clock. If you need detailed info, please don’t hesitate to email me. I’ll be happy to give you suggestions based on what we’ve been through. Every child learns differently and a GOOD teacher will respond accordingly.

    Hugs & prayers darling!

  26. Faith | Ordinary Mommy Design says:

    Wow. So tough. I homeschool my children (my oldest is doing 1st grade this year) and I often struggle with how much book work to make him do, finding fun and feasible activities, and just generally making learning fun. It’s almost a daily struggle at this point, but I wouldn’t trade it.

    I hope you have a breakthrough moment. It just baffles my mind that people expect children to sit still and tolerate gross boredom! Even at home my son does most of his work standing at the table. Standing. He just can’t tolerate sitting for that long.

  27. Renee says:

    I don’t agree with this teacher but teaching is a more difficult job than most people realize. I think every parent that feels like their child is not being educated well should, by all means, take the child out of school and educate him/her themselves.

  28. Please please don’t let her become another drone, I too have spent my life not fitting into the mold of my peers. I’m OK with it, my creativity brings me happiness as well as a drive to become an expert regarding things I’m interested in. There is nothing wrong with what she’s doing but since she’s not following the crowd like the others people label her as such. If you can’t homeschool her I would try to find one of the schools that foster their imagination and encourage them to learn at their own pace and doesn’t treat them as if they are troops in the army. Phew….that felt good to get out because so many people “satisfice” to keep the peace. It’s amazing to me. Good luck, whatever you decide, you’re a roll model already as far as I’m concerned as you recognize that (gasp) not all children are the same and should act the same way.

  29. elisa says:

    oh, i’m pleased to see how much support you are getting around this. i’m another homeschooler, and while it is a struggle sometimes, we all love it and have a strong community – in fact it has led us to strong community in vancouver, in london and now in the sussex countryside. i hire older homeschooled girls to take my children out sometimes, i trade with other parents, i work while they do a bushcraft class or have a play with someone, dance, study languages. as they get older they are happy to read all day, i would hardly see my eleven year old if i didn’t call her out from behind a book! – so i can work beside them. i highly highly recommend it. whatever you do, i can see you are advocating for your child, and that will be so important to her. xx

  30. April says:

    That sucks. I don’t have any wise words for you. I don’t know what I would do in your situation, and I’m not a parent. I can only tell you that I’m better off knowing you and you constantly inspire me. Your children are lucky to have a mother like you! I hope you figure out a solution that works for your family, and I wish the best for your creative, adorable daughter.

  31. Mandy says:

    Amen. I’m going through a similar situation and I can honestly say that it is the most difficult, painful situation I’ve ever found myself in. Have you looked at relocating? Not being able to afford the private (quality) education is miserable and you don’t want to go into debt for it (you’ve still got college ahead) We are considering moving, but we would take about a 30,000 loss on the condo we currently reside in (stupid human honeycomb!). We still might do it though, move to an area that is still possible for my husband to commute, but cost of living is so much less expensive, the schools are more close knit and nature so much more prevalent.

  32. Jesska, you know how I feel about all this, given the f-bombs I was dropping on Twitter about it- lol!
    I will say that as a former teacher, they do have a REALLY TOUGH job trying to teach a variety of ability levels and learning capacities.
    This SHOULD NOT, however, mean that you simply take the path of least resistance and teach to the lowest common denominator and chain children to their desks with worksheets and consider that effective teaching or good classroom management.
    Given that there is more than one teacher in that room, the kids should be split up by ability levels during certain subjects and a variety of learning style should be implemented throughout the day. Teaching to each child’s preferred learning style all day long is impossible, but varying the techniques will encourage more engagement from all the students in the long run.
    Like I said before, 1) parents are their kids biggest advocates, and 2) the squeaky (but respectful!) wheel gets oiled. SQUEAK! SQUEAK!

  33. Kris says:

    I am nearing “retirement” from fifteen years as a home school mom and I will never regret making the choice to home school. If you have a desire to try it, I encourage you to take the leap as the rewards can be amazing. If it isn’t the answer for your daughter, you can always adapt the plan.

  34. brandy says:

    My heart aches for you. In California we have charter schools. I became a founding parent of a waldorf inspired one. I now feel safe and connected to the school my son will attend. Since you loved the school she was in before check to see what financial options they have in a private meeting. You are a talented person and could offer the school workshops, parent ed or outreach programs. 12 buses is alot to go through every morning. Follow your heart, most decisions we make are the ones we already have the answer to.

  35. I totally hear you! Today, is my daughters last day in public school. I sent you an email about it…We are doing an alternative way of schooling (starting this week). It will be challenging, but I am looking foward to it. There are things in life, I realize that can not be changed. You need to stay strong, focused, and let the creativeness flow…because if you do not have it…restlessness will take place and you and your daughters will not grow and be the amazing women and future “grown” women of our world. xoxox

  36. Jessika,

    I really admire your initiative and desire to let your daughter truly blossom into her own creative person. That is something I want dearly for my own children, and I LOVED reading your description of Ila. She sounds like such a beautiful girl with strong character. Also, your concern for her learning is astounding as well. I’ve encountered too many parents who almost look at the school system as “babysitting”. You seem already so involved and I think that gets you off to a great start.

    Now, I’m only a mommy-to-be, but I can say that as a home schooled child of nine home schooled children, I wouldn’t have preferred it another way. Being home schooled really allowed my mom (who believes in my creativity beyond the ends of the earth) to really give me the time to grow as an artist. She was (and still is) so encouraging. She sometimes made sure I focused MORE on my art, than all of the nitty-gritties of assignments. As long as I was learning, getting the grades, she was so supportive of making sure I had time to work on my art everyday. I don’t think I would be where I am right now without her undying support.

    That being said, since my husband and I are taking our new family around the U.S. for the next so many years, we’re planning to home school. Not just because it is the only option, but because we know we’re going to give the healthiest, loving environment for our little ones. Even if it takes up most of our time, we know they’re worth every inch of effort.

    Finding a different school, working with her at home, moving – those all seem like good places to start. I know what it’s like to always have things to do, overwhelmed already not even having my child yet. How will I fit homeschooling in? I’ve seen my mom run an amazing at home business while taking care of nine children. She’s a huge exception, and I often call her “supermom” but she also gives me the encouragement that it is possible to be successful and make time for your kids.

    In all things, even if homeschooling (although not your most preferred method) comes to be the only option, I hope you can find ways to make it eventful for both of you! Learning and creating can be so much fun. It is what you make it.

    Anyhow, I guess those are my thoughts on it all. I hope you discover the best schooling for you and Ila!

    • Jessika says:

      I am seriously floored by the incredible moving response to my sharing what I am working through right now. You are all so insightful and full of good energy-each comment is like a big hug reminding me that no matter what choice I end up making I’m not doing it alone!
      Some of the advice we are already working on-I have calls/meetings with teachers, principle & school board to address the suggestion of ADHD and medication, which is not even remotely an option. I don’t feel able to take on the school system and school board but I will make myself heard at the very least. There are no gifted programs available for her in our school district so we have had a realtor come and talk to us about putting our house on the market. I am not leaping into anything yet-I want to make sure I am not being reactionary but have a good plan in place for how we can move forward. After many hours of talking it out, soul searching and reading your beautiful comments our family has decided to keep Ila home after Christmas break. I am planning on visiting the Waldorf school that is an hour from here and having Ila attend for a few days to see if it would be a good fit. I will be homeschooling her at least until September though. I will be sure to keep you all updated on where this adventure takes us-thank you again for being such amazing friends and supporters! With a community like you surrounding me I feel like I could do anything:)

  37. Jessika,
    Just had to say…
    Can’t tell you enough how happy your comment (just above) about your plans has made me. I love seeing you take the control and do what is best for your child and family, even when so many things still seem out of our control. Yes, just had to say, your response just makes me so excited for your family, Jessika!

  38. katie says:

    Jessika, I have been fortunate to find a wonderful, supportive public school for my little wiggly crazy creative daughter. And I completely understand your desire to homeschooling as well as sharing the self-awareness that being a homeschooling mother might not be the best fit for your personality. To that end…
    I’m not sure if anyone has suggested this, but there are homeschooling/unschooling co-ops out there. You could share teaching responsibilities with other parents and instead teach one subject (maybe one day a week, depending on the number of parents involved). Good luck!!! Because you are able to recognize and celebrate Ila’s unique gifts, I have no doubt you will be able to find the best schooling solution to fit her and your needs!! Much love to you both!

  39. katie says:

    Jessika, I have been fortunate to find a wonderful, supportive public school for my little wiggly crazy creative daughter. And I completely understand your desire to homeschool as well as sharing the self-awareness that being a homeschooling mother might not be the best fit for your personality. To that end…
    I’m not sure if anyone has suggested this, but there are homeschooling/unschooling co-ops out there. You could share teaching responsibilities with other parents and instead of being solely responsible for teaching Ila, you could teach one or two subjects (maybe one or two days a week, depending on the number of parents involved). Good luck!!! Because you are able to recognize and celebrate Ila’s unique gifts, I have no doubt you will be able to find the best schooling solution to fit her and your needs!! Much love to you both!

  40. Sarah Silks says:

    We have had years where school did not work for one or the other of our kids and found homeschooling to be the perfect answer. One year we found a few other families and made our own little”school” with different parents being in charge on different days, so we could still get some work done!
    There is an incredible feeling of peace when you listen to your gut and just let them stay home. It is amazing! And all of mine have eventually chosen to go back, but the break/change was so good for us all.

  41. Mlise says:

    What a sad story! & so difficult to advise on -not least as I live in a different environment in Scandinavia.
    All I can do is to suggest you continue reflecting on what your options are:
    Where do you live & MUST you live there? Are there any alternatives?
    What could you do to meet with other parents in the same quandry to discuss options?
    What possibilities are there for a group of people to start up a private school?
    Which periods of time are available for “remedial” activities during the week, weekends, holidays?
    Which media options are available in the local context for a schooling debate?
    Try to google inspirational projects which have been set up elsewhere to cope with similar problems.
    Read up on social entrepreneurship!
    That’s my immediate reaction – please feel free to write to me, if I can help you in any way.
    Best wishes,

  42. Jay says:

    I am so relieved, after reading your post and the comments, that you have found a decision you are comfortable with, even if it is temporary. The feeling of not knowing what to do and being indecisive can be so overwhelming.
    Our story is that we moved to change schools for our daughter, and although we are happy with our new location, moving for school was the wrong reason. The only school that can be right for your child is the school whose values match your own. Can be found, but anything short can make us outspoken creatives wiggle in our seats.
    Btw, I don’t believe in obedience, but do believe in respect and empathy.

  43. Mayi Carles says:

    When I was in Kinder my parents got called to the Principals office because I didn’t know how to write. Or write properly I should say. The teachers were worried because at the end of every letter during calligraphy class I did a little magical whirl or converted the letter into a doodle.

    Luckily for me my parents hanged the proof of my calligraphy inadequacies on the fridge, making me feel like a total super star.

    Years later they told me the story + I thanked them for safe-guarding my larger than life imagination in the years that matter the most.

    I’m sharing this with you my friend because I’ve lived in a narrow minded community all my life + non of it mattered because I always had a safe space at home to create + be me 100%.

    Whatever decision you make, know that no school will ever censor or limit Ila’s gift if you don’t let them. I’m sure Ila is safe at home + I bet she has her creative zone there too, just like Batman has his cave.

    In a way we all have our Batman caves, were we get to be ourselves. The secret is to know it so that we always come back to it + recharging our batteries.

    Thanks for making me cry in a beautiful way my friend + for reminding me how much I love my parents for saving me.

  44. Nan says:

    I am really sorry to hear that you are struggling with this issue. Things are tough when your little girl is not as happy as she should be and I hope that things will be better for you soon. Good luck and thank you for sharing great information on your blog.

  45. Lizzet says:

    I really don’t know the answer for you and your daughter but the fact that you are questioning the school “diagnosis” is a great step.
    When I was in kindergarden I was told that the right hand was the one that we use to write with, I am lefthanded and I couldn’t understand why I was always wrong during the right/left excercises. Silly example but it is true. I am lucky that because of that and many other things my parents moved me to a better school where I was happier and I had lots of friends.

    I wish you and your family all the best, I am sure you will take the right decision for your lovely daugther xx

  46. Ange says:

    Mainstream education is increasingly focusing on academic acceleration and failing to acknowledge we are whole beings who need to develop emotional, spiritually and physically as well as mentally. Do you live anywhere near a Waldorf/Steiner school? It sounds like this is just what your daughter needs. Seven years ago when my eldest child was ready to start school we moved our family to a new area so all our children could be educated at a steiner school. every day in so many ways i am reminded it is the best decision we could ever make for each of them. follow your heart xo

  47. rena says:

    hi jessika, nothing to say except that i am thinking of you and i wish i could do something! i know you will be able to find a solution – maybe not the ideal one right now, but something that will ease your heart and also allow you to do the work you need to do. xoxo rena

  48. Veronica says:

    I agree with the safe haven that will be Home. With you at her side, her light will never fade… And, if we try, maybe we could find some positive element (tiny as it may be) in the fact that being inmerse for some hours in the world that’s the “real” world for many people (sad as it may be) could also help her in her relationships with that world in the future. Un fuerte abrazo.

  49. Elle says:

    WOW! What a post to stumble across! First time reader of your blog but let me say again WOW!

    Now let me say as a mother i completely understand that the very hardest thing to do is watch your kids hurt. I wouldnt wish that on anyone in the world! But it is also something we have to do a lot as they grow, experience life and try to learn their place in it. My boy is only 2 and due to court orders I am forced to live by I regularly have to watch him cry and scream for me as he taken to daddy’s house. It kills a little piece of me everytime.

    I also dont agree with a lot of the way his father parents, or even sees the world which is hard too.

    But I am also realizing that in some ways it allows me to be a better parent. I work harder when he is home to show him how I see the world and share with him all the love, happiness and silliness you can find in everyday life. I cherish every min he is at home and I try very hard to show him as much I can!

    As far as the school stuff goes I think you shouldnt be so hard on yourself. I had a hard time at school too because I walked to school with my nose in a book, I was much faster at math than I was at sport! But Im ok now – I love the adult I am and I love the parenting my mum dad gave me. I remember far less the days I cried at school than times mum hugged me and told life isnt fair but it is still great!

    If you explain to her way her teachers find the other kids easier, if you teach her it is ok to be a bit different and that one day as she gets older people start celebrating that instead of suppressing it she’ll be ok.

    In fact the bad bits in our life are just much of the person we become – so she is growing (with your love and support) into a different, magical, wonderful creative person! The words on her drawing should let you know that already she knows who she is and is proud! We all have hardships to overcome and thats where mum is needed to wipe the tears, share an icecream and climb a tree with you to make you feel better!

  50. Marian says:

    Ι hope i have the permission to share on fb this beautiful soul opening story of yours that made my eyes full of tears.
    I can feel you 100% having 3 kids myshelf and sharing your philosophy totally.
    Ila has nothing to be afraid of with a mommy like you. If it can be of any help, i found that a good laughter with my daughter at how “the system” works along with compassion towards the people that cannot see outside the box can work magic.
    All the best!

  51. margaret says:

    I completely hear you on raising children who are free to be who they are creatively, emotionally and physically. How can they take play out of early childhood education and expect kids to “sit” still.

    Like you we are currently attempting to send our oldest to a very nice, natural school- and we only have one car and barely enough money to afford tution. We skimp on a lot of things so that our little man can have the freedom to be who he is and play with others his own age. It’s super tough but I see him shine everyday I pick him up from school- and the teachers are amazing. It’s super hard for me to think of sending him to a public school next year if we don’t have the money to continue at Waldorf school.
    I’m sure with a mom like you and a very creative and open home life school won’t be able to tear her down and make her conform. We do what we must, but I have to believe that our hopes, dreams, and our love for our kids will overpower any outside force.

  52. oh my sweet sweet friend. i know your story…intimately.

    4 children. 2 with adhd. insanely creative and musical ( my husband is a musician ) schools that suggested meds. no place for them to flourish.

    and i KNOW this is NOT the answer for all…but this is why i homeschool AND run a creative business full time. they need me. they need to spread their wings.

    am i the best teacher? no. am i the smartest, most organized, most well verse. not in the least.

    but while we study history they color. language arts we play games. we sing poetry and make up silly songs. we laugh. we cry. i get frustrated and then i cry. but they are free to be the creative individuals they are meant to be.

    my oldest 2 girls are 15 and 12. they are confident. not insecure. they are not sheltered, but they don’t fear ridicule. why? because in our home they are applauded for their creativity and peer pressure does not exist.

    message me if you want to talk further.

    i understand…


  53. Maria says:

    It’s a difficult position. I wish I had some adivce for you. I’m in a foreign country right now and we don’t have nearly any school choice here so I harbor some of the same concerns and try to balance the ridgeness of school with more cretive pursuits in the afternoon.
    I must admit what caught my attention about this post is that you named your daughter Ila. My mom’s name is Ila and I hardly ever run across it. How did you choose it?
    Best, Maria

  54. Victoria says:

    Hi, I am new to your blog and so just read your old post in the link from today’s one. I am a Montessori preschool teacher in NZ and just wondered if you had ever considered Montessori school for your girls? My two boys, 6 & 3, have benefited enormously from being able to work at their own pace, following their own interests and gain life skills along the way. I love it so much I changed careers to train to guide other kids along their journey through life.


  55. Karen says:

    Stumbled on your blog, how interesting and thought provoking it is. Working with children has been part of my life.
    I’ve been reading about ‘Nurtured hearts’ recently, they work with children,adults and families. Then I read your post and quote ‘I was afraid public school would dim her light-which is so radiant:’ somehow links with some of their vision. Just had to share this. hope the future is bright for you ….night x

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