Deschooling can be defined as an adjustment period experienced by children transitioning from a school setting to homeschool. Parents also go through this – it’s a period where the ‘unlearning’ of concepts and beliefs take place – a time to question the very nature and purpose of education and learning. Both the child and the parent need this time to adjust to their new homeschooling arrangement. It can take as little as a few weeks up to a year for this process unfold. During this time, parents grant children the freedom to do whatever they want to do in hopes of relearning to love learning.
Let the child bask in having no school routine to follow everyday. Let them stay up late and sleep in if they choose. Essentially, you want to give them freedom from being told what to do every minute of the day and figure out their inner strengths and interests – independently but with a mindful parent helping them along the way.
During the deschooling period, parents can help to undo any negative attitudes that have developed about learning. Children also are able to de-stress from horrible experiences
such as bullying and spend time discovering their own interests. There are so many important subjects that have been cut from schools – subjects that teach important life skills such as cooking, gardening, budgeting, car repair, and more. During the deschooling period, kids are free to explore these things and learn that learning can actually be fun!
Parents can use this time to develop a plan, conduct research and explore their options – local support groups, curriculums, schedules, etc. It allows parents to see how their kids learn and what will work best for them – hands-on projects, field trips, unit studies, community lessons, volunteering, etc.
It’s the parents that usually have the most ‘deschooling’ to do. Parents have to reflect on their own school experiences and think about – how did you learn best, do you remember everything you were taught, did school interfere with your learning, did you learn better when you were interested in the subject, do we need to learn things at certain ages and what learning really means to you.
Keep in mind that life is full of learning opportunities and that unless you put your child in an empty room, it’s pretty hard to keep them from learning. They will likely be taking part in a variety of educational things, but not in a structured way where they are being told what and how to learn.
What do you do with your children during this time? Well, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy and encourage your child’s interests and help them dig as deep into things as they
want to. It’s important to not pressure them with expectations during this time and simply allow them to be in charge of what they are doing or learning. It’s a great time for parents to share their interests and hobbies, but don’t get discouraged if they are not passed on.
Sit and brainstorm and come up with a long list of ideas of activities and things they can do – both in and out of the home. If it seems like all your child wants to do is watch TV – then join them. Spend time doing whatever they like doing – instead of asking them, “how can you watch this show, it’s awful!” – try showing interest in what they do – you may be amazed at the results. When your child discovers that you are not a judge or a boss, well the sky is the limit! You will be rewarded by the simple amazement of what wonderful people your children actually are when given the freedom to just ‘be’.