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Today is the final post in my Homeschool Methods guest post series. I have loved learning from these incredible homeschool moms! This post is a little different than the others insect it is about deschooling. This is not a method, but something families do when beginning to homeschool. This post is from Amy over at Rock Your Homeschool ~one of my favorite bloggers! 🙂
When you make the decision to transition from public school to homeschool, a gazillion questions and doubts pop up.
Your choice may be have been a no-brainer or something you’ve struggled with for some time. But, no matter what your reason(s) for embarking on your homeschool journey, this decision brings change. Homeschooling is a new and different lifestyle for all family members to embrace.
And that change can feel super scary! So many unknowns and adjustments to be made.
You’re wondering what to do and when and how and why. The thought of taking on this huge responsibility feels like a load of bricks on your shoulders.
You may be asking yourself questions like:
- What will we do all day if we homeschool?
- How can I help my kids get used to homeschool life?
- Am I really ready to homeschool my kids?
- Who can help me figure all of this homeschool stuff out?
- How can we spend all day together without losing our minds?
- When should we start homeschooling? For how many days a week?
- What homeschool method would be best for our family?
- Am I ____ enough? (insert words like smart, patient, positive, etc.)
- What if my kids hate homeschooling? Or what if I do?
When you take a close look at all of your questions and doubts, you may notice an overall theme. You’re asking yourself how you can make a smooth transition from public school to homeschool. Because you feel confident in your final decision and you know that the homeschool lifestyle is right for your family.
But, how can you actually make that smooth transition happen? A delightful homeschool method called Deschooling 🙂
What is Deschooling?
In a nutshell, deschooling is the process of letting go of preconceived notions about what learning “should” look like. Often, deschooling is described as breaking out of public school mentality to allow the natural flow of learning to occur. It’s a time when traditional education ideas are shelved to allow families to shed any negatives holding them back from enjoying learning at home.
Deschooling is a shift in your mindset. It’s an opportunity to cultivate a positive learning atmosphere for all family members. And it’s a fabulous experience that allows both individual and family growth!
So, what does deschooling look like?
Imagine no textbooks. No prescribed schedule or lessons. Instead of hastily scribbled notes or homework, notebooks are filled with doodles, dreams, and designs full of fun.
Informal projects may evolve as family members talk about their interests in World Cup Soccer or rare underwater species. Or maybe you finally make those field trips happen that you’ve been wanting to do for years.
And through it all, you’re talking. Actually communicating with each other over board games, puzzles, even chores. Rediscovering just what it is that makes each family member tick.
That’s just one version of deschooling. There are countless ways that a family can make it work. All families are unique and will have their own special way of using deschooling to their advantage.
How is Deschooling a Homeschool Method?
To the best of my knowledge, deschooling hasn’t been presented as a homeschooling method. I think it’s time to put it out there 😉
Many families initially give public school a try. And find out it’s not for them. They want to make this homeschool thing happen and need a great way to break free from the effects of drinking the public school Kool-Aid, if you will.
Deschooling is an excellent option for many homeschool families. If you’re pulling your kids out from public school, the entire family can benefit. Or maybe you’ve homeschooled your kids from the beginning but feel stuck in your own public school mentality from your personal educational experiences? Some families have used the cyber school route for a while (which isn’t that far removed from public school) and want to embrace the freedoms of true homeschooling.
Although deschooling is typically applied to the start of your homeschooling experiences, its positive effects seep into the foundation of your homeschool and beyond. You’ll feel the power of deschooling for years and be able to revisit it at any time when necessary.
A pretty potent homeschool method, if you ask me.
How Deschooling Helped Our Family
Just how potent is deschooling? Well, it was the one thing that saved our homeschool from an early demise.
Our two older boys attended public school until third and first grades. We tried to work with the system but had enough. After a one-year stint with a cyber school, we decided to give homeschooling a go.
I had no idea what I was doing and overplanned the bejeebers out of our first week. Pregnant with a toddler in tow, I still thought I had to do all the things and replicate public school at home. Instant misery for all. The boys were barking at each other and I was growling at everyone.
My older boys were muttering under their breaths about going back to school and I was crying into my pillow at night. I just knew that homeschooling was for us but was about to throw in the towel after barely getting started.
Exhausted, I let my boys go outside and play so I could do some thinking. As I sat and thought, I made some interesting observations. My boys were enjoying themselves and doing some pretty amazing learning things, too. And if that wasn’t enough, during their play, they were smiling and talking with each other in pleasant voices. I even overheard a bit of what our family calls “processing” (talking about their thoughts and feelings-guess that happens when mom was a mental health therapist 😉 ) concerning public school.
Intrigued (and still exhausted), I took a break from homeschool plans. The boys started to wake up eager to start the day. We’d chat about what we wanted to do and I gave them plenty of time to just be kids.
After a week or two, some truly wonderful things started to happen! My boys began to pick up books and read for fun. Did I mention they’d lost their love for reading with all the public school reading contests and demands? And the boys asked if they could make a poster about birds they saw in our backyard. My oldest even wrote a paragraph about a feisty blue jay! From a boy who had declared he never wanted to write again after too many formulaic assignments at school!
At the time, I didn’t know there was a word for what we were doing. I later discovered that it’s called deschooling. And I’m ever so grateful that we haphazardly experienced its benefits!
Deschooling for a Smooth Transition to Homeschooling
Deschooling will be a different experience for every family. These deschooling tips for new homeschool families, as well as an honest look at your current situation, can help your deschool process.
First, has homeschooling been a sudden decision or well-planned? You may feel better prepared if you’ve been waiting to homeschool. A sudden, unexpected homeschool situation may have you feeling a bit more unsure. This information can help you decide on your deschooling approach.
Another consideration is if you’ll take a full break from traditional learning or have a more structured approach to your deschooling. Either way is fine, as long as it fits the needs of your family. A full break might look a bit like unschooling or no mention of learning at all. A structured approach could include planned activities and events to provide security and support.
You’ll also want to think about how long to deschool. I’ve seen some suggestions for a week (or month!) of deschooling for each year that your child has been in public school. How that works for families with more than one child, I don’t know… Some families find that leaving the deschooling window open as long as necessary is important. Other families prefer to set a specific date to begin their official homeschool adventures.
When you’re deschooling for a smooth transition to homeschooling, you’ll want to uncover any fears and expectations that you and other family members have. Some of those fears include how to justify deschooling when you live in a state with specific requirements (or nosy “concerned” family and friends). Like, if you deschool for four months, what do you report to the state? Ultimately, you must fulfill those requirements. Look to unschoolers in your state and how they make it work. (Joan of Unschool Rules provides wonderful examples for Pennsylvania, one of the more highly regulated homeschool states.)
Another example is my worry about gaps. How would my boys ever keep up with their peers at public school if we took a break? I slapped myself a bit to get the jolt I needed: All educations have gaps. There’s no way to learn everything! By taking the time to help my boys rediscover their love of learning, I’d be giving them a lifelong gift that could help narrow those gaps. Deschooling for the win!
Also, you can use the time to plan and prepare for when you start homeschooling. As your kids enjoy rediscovering their interests and learning how to function without a teacher breathing down their neck, explore different homeschool approaches. Take a look at homeschool curriculum options and what might work best for you and your kids.
Join awesome Facebook groups like Rock Your Homeschool and Creative Teaching Ideas for support, encouragement, and inspiration. A highly recommended book is Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich. And make sure to check out these other recommended resources and support for deschooling!
How to Know if Deschooling is Right for Your Family
Wondering if your family could benefit from deschooling? Get help with your decision making by using the checklist, Do We Need to Deschool? These questions will help you get a better picture of why deschooling might be just the ticket to help you and your kids shake off public school mentality in exchange for the freedoms that homeschooling provides.
When you can let go and let learning happen at home, your family will shine. The transition from public school to homeschooling doesn’t have to be filled fear and trepidation. You CAN enjoy the process as you build relationships, have learning fun, and establish a solid foundation for your homeschool.
Are you thinking about deschooling?
What concerns do you have about this homeschool method?
Drop your comments and questions below!
And, if you have gone through the deschooling process, what tips and tricks can you share to help new homeschoolers?
Amy Milcic is a homeschool soccer mom to 5 boys. She blogs at Rock Your Homeschool where she shares positive thinking strategies and fun resources to help you rock your homeschool! You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.