What is Deschooling and Should You Do It?

In short, deschooling is about learning how to learn outside the classroom. Deschooling is a process for children and parents alike when transitioning from traditional school to homeschool. The reality is that homeschooling is very different from traditional school. It requires a period of adjustment, and it’s not necessarily easy. However, the transition from traditional school to homeschooling will be far easier if you allow for deschooling.

When you’ve always known traditional school as the model of education, it can be difficult to view anything else as “proper” school. When you’re new to homeschooling, this mindset can apply to both yourself as the parent and your children. This article will share tips for deschooling, discuss the importance of deschooling, provide ideas for the deschooling transition, and answer the question, “What is deschooling?”

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • What is deschooling?
  • What does deschooling look like?
  • Should you deschool?
  • Resources for deschooling

Homeschool Challenges and Solutions

What Is Deschooling?

For many students, heading to school every day is simply the norm. While there, they know exactly which classroom is theirs, which desk is theirs, and what the teacher expects as soon as they walk in the door. The teachers will instruct the class, break them into groups for projects, call on students to answer questions, and complete worksheets in class. The students will have one or two short recess sessions in elementary school. Younger students will have one teacher all day while older students will have one teacher for each class, structured in periods. The teachers will assign homework, while the students must complete and hand in the following day.

When it comes to homeschooling, families from traditional school may feel the need to imitate the classroom structure. While some families thrive on the school-at-home method, most families find it very challenging. This is where deschooling comes in! Deschooling involves taking time undo the learned behaviors from being accustomed to traditional school.

Find answers to the top homeschooling questions here.

  • Deschooling frees time restrictions.
  • Deschooling shows that learning happens outside the classroom.
  • Deschooling allows for students and parents to shift from the classroom mindset and discover the untapped potential in homeschool learning.

Top Homeschooling Methods

 

What Does Deschooling Look Like?

Quick deschooling ideas for younger children:

  • Let your children wake up naturally.
  • Do they want to get dressed for the day or have a pajama day? Or a costume day?
  • Perhaps take a walk around the neighborhood. If anything specifically interests your children (e.g. insects, clouds, construction, etc.) make a mental note to find library books on the topic.
  • Back at home, do they want to color, play a game, or watch something on TV or YouTube? Maybe look up videos about that weird bug from the walk.
  • Read out loud together.
  • Perhaps they can take a nap if your children are young.
  • Take a trip to the library, a children’s museum, science center, or a park with a playground.
  • Make dinner together.

Deschooling ideas for middle school/high school students:

  • Let them sleep in according to their natural rhythm.
  • Make breakfast together.
  • Take a field trip.
    • Ideas: a museum, science center, zoo, aquarium, rescue, volunteer work, art shop, etc.
  • Work on special interests: science projects, driver’s ed, building projects, etc.
  • Do a P.E. activity.
  • Discuss ideas for homeschool curriculum, schedules, preferences, and more. Involving your teen’s input will go far!
  • Try virtual field trips.
  • Go to the library, the movie theater, mini-golfing, frisbee golf, laser tag, ice skating, a skate rink, or maybe axe-throwing, a rage room, geocaching, or an outdoor adventure course. All of these ideas help your kids have fun while still doing more than chilling on the couch during this deschooling period.

Homeschool Planning and Record Keeping

Traditional School Learning

Homeschool Learning

  • Set start times
  • Desks and whiteboard classrooms. Learning happens in classrooms with the teacher instructing the class.
  • Structured subjects.
    • Learning is divided into the core subjects (Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies).
    • Each subject is distinct and separate.
  • Peer pressure is common
  • Learning happens Monday-Friday at consistent hours.
  • The classroom environment means 1 teacher to numerous students.
  • The curricula and lesson plan is pre-determined.
  • There is an allotted amount of time for teaching each subject.
  • Sick days mean missing schoolwork and having to make up the homework.
  • There is usually one learning option: sit at the desk, listen quietly, answer questions as directed and complete worksheets.
    • There simply isn’t the time or resources to cater to each child’s learning needs.
    • Children may fall behind simply because they cannot learn in the “traditional” method.
    • With a one-size-fits-all approach, it can also be difficult to recognize learning challenges.
  • Relaxed start times
  • Learning can happen anywhere!
    • If you have a homeschool room: great!
    • If you use the kitchen table: great!
    • If you use the porch swing: great!
    • You can learn from the couch, bed, car, and more.
  • Work through distinct subjects or don’t.
    • Use topics for unit studies.
    • Take a day for science projects and reading.
  • Peer pressure is mostly non-existent.
  • Learning can happen during the day, night, or weekends!
  • The homeschool environment means 1 teacher to 1 student.
  • Parents can choose the curricula, schedule, and lesson plans.
  • With homeschooling, you can spend all day on a subject if you like!
    • Students can easily get ahead of schedule with self-paced homeschooling.
  • One of the joys of homeschooling is that you canĀ always catch up later. Take the day/week off, if you like!
    • And it’s not true “catching up” because you do not need to match the public school system.
  • Teaching can be aligned with learning styles.

Alternatives to College

Should You Deschool?

If your child is coming from a situation where he’s used to a public or private school setting that is very rigorous and structured, deschooling is likely going to be in the best interest of you, your child, and the rest of your family. Allow your child some time to decompress from everything he’s ever been taught about the school setting can have lasting benefits.

Deschooling is one important way to transition children from a traditional classroom setting to homeschooling. Many new homeschooling families who feel like homeschooling isn’t working find that deschooling is exactly what they need to do.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, deschooling will likely be helpful for your family:

  • Are you shifting to homeschooling from the traditional classroom setting?
  • Are you transitioning to homeschooling from virtual school-at-home?
  • Are you starting online schooling?
  • Have you recently changed to homeschooling and encountered behavior issues and increased stress in the home?

Homeschooling High School

What To Expect While Deschooling

When you’re new to homeschooling, you may encounter behavior issues. Your kids may seem excited to homeschool but resist homeschooling schoolwork because “That’s not how we did it in school.” Your children may not take you seriously because, to them, you’re haven’t been their teacher. To them, you may not really “know what you’re doing” because this is what their teacher has always done, not their parent. Similarly, your children may just think it’s easy and consider it unimportant to submit quality work because it’s not “real school.” These natural mindsets are the reasons for deschooling. It takes time to reprogram our minds and accept alternative learning options as quality education methods.

Deschooling is actually very similar to unschooling, which is a curriculum-free learning style that certain families prefer over lesson plans. The main difference in deschooling vs unschooling is the goal. Deschooling is a short-term process to move from a traditional school mindset to a homeschool-ready mindset. In contrast, unschooling is a long-term homeschooling method preference. These terms are occasionally thrown around interchangeably, but the uses are distinct.

  • Your children may be resistant to homeschooling schoolwork.
  • They may not take it seriously as “real school.”
  • They need time to re-learn what education can look like.

High School College Prep

Signs Of Homeschool Readiness

How long does deschooling take? A major part of determining what is deschooling for your family requires not rushing. Trust the process. The length of time for the deschooling period varies from family to family. Some families spend just a few months deschooling while others spend their first year of homeschooling on the process. Neither is wrong, so try to avoid comparing your experience with other families. Deschooling takes as long as it takes, whether that’s a few weeks or the whole first year.

How will you know when both you and your children are ready to transition from deschooling to regular homeschooling? There are a few signs of homeschooling readiness.

  • Your children understand schoolwork can happen anywhere, anytime, and from anything.
  • You understand that your children likely learn differently and you’ve discovered their learning styles.
  • You see natural curiosity as a great learning opportunity for further discovery.
  • You and your children have started to connect over educational tasks. Some of the original awkwardness has dissipated. It feels more natural.
  • You see the value of supplemental activities such as learning games, field trips, and extracurriculars.
  • You understand the homeschool laws of your state and have decided on a homeschool style and curriculum within the framework of those laws to start homeschooling.

If you can answer yes to most of these, welcome to homeschooling!

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