The Homeschool Deschooling Process
Are you thinking about making the transition from public school to homeschooling? Or maybe you feel the need to overcome public school mentality?
If so, you may find that you want to learn how to deschool with confidence 🙂
Discover what deschooling is and if it could help your family have a smooth and peaceful transition as you prepare for homeschooling.
What Does It Mean To Deschool?
Deschooling is the process of breaking away from public school mentality and rediscovering the natural joy of learning. In 1971, Ivan Illich, in Deschooling Society, shared his views about deschooling and how individuals learn best at their own pace rather than in an institutional setting.
The phrase “to deschool” has come to mean different things to different people. And rightly so. Personally, I believe that deschooling is best done when customized to meet the needs, interests, and current level of functioning for each family member.
Deschooling definitions can include any of the following:
- Fun, fun, fun!
- Sudden and unexpected
- Planned and prepared
- No traditional learning at all
- Using whatever tools and resources you want
- A prescribed set of materials for a successful transition
- You deschool for ___ days and then you’re done
- Keep an open mind and deschool as long as you need!
So, deschooling can be whatever it needs to be for your family to shed public school mentality. It’s a period of healing, growth, and connection. Deschooling is used to remove blocks that could get in the way of a positive homeschooling journey.
Our Deschooling Story
From my own deschooling experiences with my two older boys, I found that “to deschool” meant even more.
My two older boys attended public school up to third and first grades. During that time, I witnessed their love of learning slowly seeping away. Reading became a chore and busy work left them feeling and looking like robots.
Both boys had entered public school with a spectacular inner drive and thirst for knowledge. They were well ahead of their peers. In fact, I had to write a letter to the school librarian to request that my oldest be allowed to check out chapter books in Kindergarten. I was told that he “shouldn’t be able to read at that level and it would make his classmates feel bad.” Say what?!?
Also, my oldest had been experiencing chronic migraines related to muscle strain due to having vision in only one eye. He would try to power his way through a migraine and get sick in the class. Anxiety started to build (throwing up in class can be an eight-year-old boy’s worst nightmare!) and we weren’t getting cooperation from the school to help him.
By the time we’d finally had enough, the spark had left my boys’ eyes. They just didn’t care anymore. Too many “No, we don’t do it that way!”s and “Slow down-you’re moving too fast for the rest of the class!”.
After a rather miserable experience of one year of cyber school and a failed first attempt at homeschooling, we started to deschool. It wasn’t our intention. In fact, we had no idea the concept even existed!
I was exhausted from all the struggle (plus pregnant with boy #4 and chasing a toddler, too) and let my older boys go outside and play. And something beautiful happened!
Their smiles returned. The boys were working together in their play. They ran inside, excited about a few birds they saw in our yard. They wanted to know more and started a project. On their own. With no guidance or instruction from me.
There was no fuss or dullness about the eyes. In fact, I slowly started to witness that spark return to their eyes. Curiosity crept in. Outside the box thinking returned.
Sure, there were a few hiccups. My oldest had a really hard time not asking if he was allowed to go to the bathroom. And the younger boy was afraid of not doing enough and getting in trouble. But, we worked through it all together and came out much happier for it 🙂
Deschooling Tips: Deschool With Confidence!
Getting started with deschooling doesn’t need to be stressful. It can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for all when done with intention and purpose. Deschooling can also be a wonderful time to help you reconnect as a family as you prepare a strong foundation for your homeschooling adventures.
Like any big change, however, deschooling can be filled with mixed emotions. You may jump from feeling super excited to being scared out of your mind. All perfectly normal!
To help your kids and yourself deschool with confidence, remember that this time is about your family and the healing that it needs. You may be tempted to compare yourself with others who are still in public school or that are currently homeschooling. I encourage you to put on your blinders and don’t get sucked into all of that!
How to Deschool Yourself
Before you get started with deschooling, clarify your expectations and goals. Take some time to work out what you and your family hope to accomplish during this process. For example, we wanted our boys to be willing to take chances and get excited about learning again. Also, it was important to our family that our boys were able to overcome the anxiety that had developed when they were in public school.
Your goals and expectations will reflect your family’s needs. You may want your kids to be able to take initiative with getting started on a project or play. Perhaps your kids need time to process and overcome issues from negative experiences with bullying? Often, parents want to help their kids find their voice and learn how to be assertive. Choose your goal based on what your kids have gone through and what they need to enjoy homeschooling.
Create your expectations with complete honesty. Are you envisioning an idyllic scene of sipping hot cocoa and watching your kids merrily play? Do you imagine lots of free time to explore and invent? Or do you picture more structured activities that you’ve planned out, moving from a game to a puzzle to a field trip? Any of these scenarios are just fine. What matters is going into your deschooling with a clear idea of what you hope to achieve-and being willing to bend a bit, if necessary 😉
Should Our Family Deschool Before Homeschooling?
Although I believe deschooling is a wonderful experience, it’s not necessary for every family. Your family may not feel bogged down by public school mentality. Your kids might be ready to make a smooth transition from public school to homeschool. That’s cool!
But, perhaps you’re just not sure? It sounds like it could be a helpful experience but you don’t know if you need it.
Find out if you could benefit from deschooling with this free checklist (found at Rock Your Homeschool). It will lead you through nine questions that get you thinking about where you (and your kids) are with public school mentality and how it may be affecting you.
If you believe that your family could benefit from deschooling, check out Deschooling 101: For a Peaceful Transition from Public School to Homeschool. This resource contains a guide, videos, and printable workbook to help you plan and prepare for successful deschooling. You don’t have to feel alone in your deschool/homeschool journey 🙂 Get help with clarifying expectations, crafting a plan (or not!), and what to do after your deschool.
Are you thinking about deschooling?
What questions would you like to ask?
Or do you have experiences that you’d like to share?
Today’s Homeschool 101 post is from Amy Milcic of Rock Your Homeschool
Amy is a homeschool soccer mom to 5 boys.
I believe you can enjoy time for fun, even when life is busy. Let my creative & simple solutions help you reclaim delight so you can look back on your day with a smile.