What is Deschooling?
Deschooling is an intentional time period that is beneficial for parents and children to experience when making the transition from traditional schooling to homeschooling. To really get the benefits of homeschooling, parents and children need to disconnect from the methods of traditional schooling that they are used to and adapt to their new environment of home education.
Deschooling looks like taking a step back from formal education for a season and instead, focusing on connection and setting the atmosphere for your new lifestyle of home education. This takes intention on the parent’s part as that transition is made. The longer a child has been in school, the more important it is for everyone to allow generous time to process the huge change.
The main idea of deschooling is to retrain the parent and child’s minds about what education is and the best ways to implement it. Because traditional classroom education is focused on teaching many students at once, it is set up entirely different than how a home education needs to be. During the process of deschooling, parents and children can “unlearn” how school has always been and grow into a new way that is better suited for home education. Homeschooling shifts the focus from classroom management of a large group of students to helping a child reach his or her specific learning goals. A period of deschooling prior to jumping right into homeschooling helps both students and parents make this shift.
During deschooling, parents have the time and space to gain an understanding of how their child learns best and what makes a valuable and effective education. Another hope is that during the process of deschooling, children will be able to be free from the pressures of tests and standards and restore their natural love of learning in a safe and connected environment.
How Do I Deschool?
The amount of time you should deschool is individualized per family and child. The longer the child was in formal classroom education, the longer the process will be. You may not know how long you and your child need until you begin. Try to resist the urge to plan it all out and trust the process. Rather than going from zero formal education at home to all, I recommend transitioning in slowly when it is time, maybe including one or two subjects a day and then increasing from there. In the meantime, here are some things to be doing during the deschooling process.
Establish some gentle structure.
During the deschooling transition period, I recommend keeping some structure by creating a gentle daily rhythm. To see some examples of daily rhythms we have had in the past as a homeschool family, click here. Rather than scheduling formal lessons into your days, try having intentional time for avenues of connection such as exploring nature, playing games, or cooking together.
Keep your child in the loop and dream together.
Talk to your child about the differences between classroom and home learning and what the period of deschooling will look like. Depending on your child’s age and interest, allow them some freedom on what they want to learn in their new life as a homeschooler. Make a homeschooling bucket list of places to go and things to learn. Dream together about what home education will look like.
Set aside formal academics.
Take a breath and put aside all school-like lessons for a season. Instead, take this time to focus on connection, discovery, fun, and play. Visit the zoo, museums, historic sites, and galleries. Let your child help pick where to go. Pay attention to what interests your child and plan to dive deeper into those interests in a natural way. Visit parks and other natural areas together. Invest in things that will excite your child in being and discovering the outdoors, such as a camera, binoculars, field guides, or a journal.
Take this time to educate yourself.
Spend some time diving into books, blogs, and podcasts to learn what you believe about education. Here are some of my top favorites. Invest time in learning about your child’s learning style as well. This blog post will guide you in all the steps to take as a new homeschooling family.
Find your homeschool community.
Seek out a homeschool community on Facebook or through Wild and Free. Search for homeschool co-ops or nature groups. You may need to visit several groups before you find people that you click with.
Get stocked up with craft supplies and encourage your child to get creative. Watch drawing tutorials or take a local sewing or art class. Ask your child what they want to learn how to do or make and go after that together. Inspire the desire to dream and do!
Visit the library and read aloud.
Let your child select books and audiobooks that interest them. If reading isn’t something your child loves, try pairing a book with its coordinating movie. Read the book together and celebrate it at the end by doing a related cooking project, craft, and watching the movie. Try reading aloud while your child is playing with something in their hands like legos or playdough. Help your child discover that reading is fun and relaxing, not only an assignment.
As children adjust from a classroom environment to home education, parents can take some time to deschool and discover how their child learns best, what excites and stresses them, and how to best fit home education into their lives and schedule. Gathering this information through a slow and relaxed period of time helps parents decide how to move forward with homeschooling. They can more easily and peacefully discover what homeschooling style they most resonate with, what curriculum to choose, and what kind of daily rhythm will work best.
Some blog posts you may find helpful:
- Homeschooling Year-Round
- My Favorite Blogs, Podcasts, and Books for the Homeschool Mama
- Homeschooling 101
- Homeschool Planning 101
- Dear New Homeschool Mom
You may also find it helpful to take this quiz and find out your homeschooling style.