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 homeschooling. 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 a “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
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.
- 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.
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, a 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!
- Look up local classes, electives, dual enrollment options at the local community college, digital curricula vs textbooks, and so on.
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- Try virtual field trips.
- Go to the library, the movie theater, mini-golfing, frisbee golf, laser tag, ice skating, a skating rink, or maybe ax-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.
Traditional School Learning
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? Then deschooling could be very important.
- Have you recently changed to homeschooling and encountered behavior issues and increased stress in the home?
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 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 between deschooling and 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.
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!