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Deschooling is the adjustment period a child goes through when leaving school and beginning homeschooling. To really get the benefits of homeschooling, a child has to decompress and disconnect from “school” being the default and “school ways” being the standard expectation.
Full disclosure… my children have been homeschooled since the beginning. We have not personally gone through the process of deschooling. I do, however, know the benefit of such a process and will write to you out of that knowledge.
Whenever you have a shift in your family’s norm, you can expect some adjustment time. When you move to a new home, have a new baby, have a health crisis, job change… any shift… big or small… can bring the need for an adjustment.
Deschooling involves a period where you do very little formal school work in order to re-calibrate your child’s natural love of learning.
I found this chart on the Time for Learning website. I really like how it shows the difference between Learning in a Classroom and Home Education. You can see from the chart how vastly different the methods of education are and why it might take time for students and parents to adjust to the new norm! I was a classroom teacher before I had children and made the decision to homeschool. Even though we have homeschooled the entire time, I still had to go through a period of deschooling for myself. I had to realize that homeschooling is not recreating school at home. It is a lifestyle… a freedom… a joy to create a culture of learning in our home and unlock my children’s love of learning on their level and in their time.
Deschooling is essentially a break that allows for transition between public and home school. This does not mean you are on an extended vacation or a free for all time. This is an intentional time to give you and your student space to learn a new normal. This is a precious time to learn your child in a new way. You can learn who they are, what makes them tick, how they learn, and what they are interested in. You can allow space for them to take ownership of their education alongside you.
Some things you may encounter on your deschooling journey:
Grief: Depending on why you chose to homeschool, there may be a period of grief on the part of yourself or your student. Grieving your old normal, your friendships, your habits, etc. This is ok! Give yourself and your children time to process.
Adjustment: Learning a new normal takes time. Give yourself grace as you make the switch to home education. You may decide doing school at night is more effective for your children. You may decide you like online learning or nature based learning or literature based learning. You will likely feel bombarded and probably overwhelmed with all the curriculum choices and helpful homeschool friends. You don’t have to rush to make a decision. Take your time. Learn who you are as a teacher and who your child is as a student.
Deschooling gives you a chance to find your footing. How long you choose to deschool is really up to you. I have heard that you should do it one month for every year your child was in traditional/ public school. So … if you pull your 5th grader and bring them home… maybe expect 4-5 months of a cooling off period. It really is different for every family. You are creating new patterns of behavior and thought. It takes time.
What does deschooling actually look like???
- visit museums
- go hiking
- watch documentaries
- build with legos
- visit the library
- explore interests
- learn a new hobby
- play with STEM kits or Maker kits
- homeschool with minecraft
- learn a musical instrument
- make jewelry
- do a nature study
- have great, in depth talks
- learn film making
- read, read, read
Through activities like these, you are able to learn what makes your kid tick! You’ll see how they approach learning and what they are interested in. You’ll give them time to build confidence as a learner and prepare for the education that is ahead of them. This is an opportunity to build a great foundation before you tackle those subjects they need to be college ready!
Learning is happening during this period of deschooling. Valuable learning. Deschooling will look different for different families.. just like homeschooling looks different. If you are new to homeschooling. If you have brought your child home for whatever reason… breathe! You are going to be ok! Homeschooling doesn’t have to be a battle… it shouldn’t be a battle. It might be a puzzle for a while… but you will figure this out! Involve your child in the process!
One book I have found to be particularly helpful is 8 Great Smarts by Kathy Koch. This helps to understand the way our children view the world, learn, and express themselves. It has been extremely helpful for me to have patience with my youngest who is very “word smart” and my little middle who is very “body smart.” They tackle the world in front of them very differently. My wordy girl has all the words and wants to tell me all the things. We go for walks and she talks the entire time… asking questions, pointing things out, etc. My body smart girl is a mover. She is constantly fidgety, always dancing, running… moving! If I require her to sit still while she is schooling, she will not be fully successful. I learned these things about my girls through time spent with them in the unintentional learning that happens every day.
You have made the choice to home school! I don’t know what spurred that decision on, but it was an intentional choice. You’ve got this!
Other topics I’ll be covering in this “Getting Started Homeschooling Series” are:
- The Law
- Socialization/ Homeschool Community
- Choosing Curriculum
- Establishing Schedules and Routines
- Homeschooling Preschool
- Homeschooling Elementary School
- Homeschooling Middle School
- Homeschooling High School
- Standardized Testing for Homeschoolers