Deschool to Start Your Homeschool Journey

Special thanks to our guest contributor.

Deschooling is the process of adjusting to the non-school environment of everyday life after leaving the education system. This adjustment period happens when students graduate from high school. It also happens to new homeschoolers when you transfer from traditional school into home education. Take some time for you and your student to adjust to the changes.

Deschooling is a New Mindset

Everyone comes to homeschooling with an idea and ideal of how their school at home will work. New homeschoolers often try to replicate traditional schools. The school schedule, the pace, course of study, and the teacher-led instruction format–all feels familiar.

Ivan Illich’s book Deschooling Society in 1971 explored concerns about institutional education. He said, “Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets.”

The whole system is built on the premise that children would not learn unless they are systematically led. But actually, learning is not isolated to the days in school. Learning continues beyond high school graduation. Human beings are born learners. We are infinitely curious. Learning happens every day throughout our lives.

Deschooling is a foundational shift in mindset. Do we think that students need to be forced to learn or can we recognize they are natural learners anyway?

Allow for Unstructured Time

There is a sense of security in doing schoolwork and covering a certain amount of curriculum. New homeschool parents might worry if their students will fall behind. So, it seems more comfortable to control the school day’s schedule. Busyness is the default setting of our entire culture.

Ivan Illich said, “Learning is the human activity that least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful activity.”

If we consider that children are natural learners, then we have to allow time to follow their own curiosity. They can’t explore and create when every moment is pre-scheduled already. No one is constantly productive. We all need mental down-time.

Unstructured play is valuable and developmentally necessary. Boredom is a good thing. That’s where the spark of curiosity and creativity leads to meaningful activity.

Deschooling is a shift from strict scheduling to allow for unstructured free time.

Trust Yourself–Trust Your Child

Deschooling can be harder for the parent than the students. We are conditioned to think that the “experts” own education. The weight of responsibility feels heavy.

Homeschooling has a way of magnifying all our parenting woes. Surely there must be an adultier adult who should be in charge. Learning to trust yourself to figure it out and learning to trust your child is actually going to learn–is part of the process.

Trained chefs don’t own cooking. Trained truck drivers don’t own driving. And trained educators don’t own learning.

“Stop thinking schoolishly. Stop acting teacherishly. Stop talking about learning as though it’s separate from life.”
~Sandra Dodd, Unschooling Advocate

It takes some time for your mindset to shift and let go of your preconceived notions and ideals about homeschooling. Rethink what you believe about education and how learning actually works.

Read more about Deschooling Activities


Kim Andrysczyk – Volunteer Contributor

Meet Kim!


Kim Andrysczyk is a secular homeschool veteran, homeschool group leader, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and an accidental blogger. She’s the self-appointed busybody of homeschooling in South Carolina, always on the lookout for new connections to people, places, and resources. Find her at The South Carolina Homeschooling Connection and Facebook.



Other articles on this topic:

Homeschool Styles and Methods

Getting Started Homeschooling

Take this Homeschool Styles Quiz and this Learning Styles Quiz to get you started!