What is Deschooling?
A New Start
When making the switch to homeschool from school, take time to deschool. Deschooling is a very important part of transitioning from a traditional school setting to your homeschool. It is like a cleanse that you do to rid your body of foods or toxins. When you remove your kids from school they need time to adjust to what life is like being at home. Gone are all the stressors and influences that the institution brought into their life, and things will feel very odd to them.
Parents, this adjustment time is just as important for you as it is for your kiddo. You need time to adjust to being together all day. This is a great time to do things together to reconnect in meaningful ways. You are sojourners, entering into an amazing adventure together. Take time to prepare emotionally, mentally, and physically for your educational expedition. Think about what you want them to learn. On your own go through these checklists and think about these things. Then, ask your student to share their thoughts and feelings about homeschooling with you. Talk about their concerns, and what they are excited about.
The longer kids have been in a school setting, the longer you will want to deschool. Some people suggest a month for every year that they have been in a traditional school. They have many experiences that you will never know about. Their frame of reference of learning does not resemble what homeschool is going to look like. They are used to bells, time limits, learning 5 miles wide but only a mile deep, being taught what to think, to follow instructions, to stand in lines, raise their hands, and to do what everyone else is doing. They have been taught to conform. It is time to celebrate them and their uniqueness and walk with them on their path of self education and teach them to own their future.
In order to have an enjoyable homeschool career, do not try to replicate “school” at home! Kids thrive when they get a lot of rest, when they aren’t rushed, and when they aren’t being put into a box. Allow them time to explore and to learn about themselves. What are they interested in? What are they passionate about? Explore their strengths and weaknesses and figure out how to support them. Learning happens in many ways that you might consider unconventional. Watch for learning opportunities. Challenge them to not learn something for a day and see how much they really learn! Deschooling closely resembles the unschooling method. While you might not want to unschool for the long haul,unschooling principles will achieve a very successful deschooling experience.
Don’t stress that they aren’t getting worksheets done or reading from textbooks. Consider not bringing worksheets and textbooks into your homeschool-ever. How often do you think back to your school experience and think, “I remember this fabulous worksheet… I learned so much from it!” …or… “That was just the most intriguing textbook! I’ll save it so I can read it over and over again!” Head over to the How to Get Started Homeschooling and Basic Styles and Methods Page to learn about ways to homeschool that don’t include worksheets and textbooks. Think about what you consider educational success to mean. Think about how you can foster health relationships within your family.
One Step at a Time
Deschooling will help you and your kids have a much smoother transition to the world of home education. Don’t set a date to start “school” right away, enjoy the deschooling process and you will know when it is the right time to start, whichever method you choose.
Some fun (and educational) activities to do while you deschool:
- Spend some time at your historic sites, national parks, local library, museums, art exhibits, plays, and sporting events.
- Go on some field trips.
- Go for hikes in your area.
- Plan some interesting or outrageous meals, shop for the ingredients, and cook together.
- Sign up for a specialized class either together or just for your student. Think woodworking, art, blacksmithing, glass blowing, acting, or anything else that they are interested in.
- Reorganize messy places in your house together and admire the results of your hard work.
- Build something
- Watch some documentaries
- Read for fun, both independent reading and family read aloud books.
- Visit family and friends
- Play games
- Dream together! Ask your student(s) what they want to do!