What Is Deschooling About?

What is deschooling about? Have you come across the word “deschooling” in your homeschooling journey at all? If so, what does it mean? If not, pay attention because it is probably one of the most important words you need to hear. When embarking on your homeschooling journey, lot of people get stuck on the idea that homeschooling should be just like school but done at home. But homeschooling can look like so many things and does not need to resemble mainstream schooling at all. There is a reason why people choose to homeschool in the first place. Deschooling is the process most people go through when starting to homeschool as they come across problems and become disillusioned with it. Disappointment can set in and people lose the belief in themselves that they can do it. Don’t let this be you. Deschooling is simply unlearning what you know about school and taking the pressure of you and your children to conform to the very same ideals that school=going children have to. The whole idea of homeschooling is that you do things your way, not follow their stock standard methods and curriculum. Going through a deschooling process helps you arrive at this conclusion too. Homeschooling does not need to have you setting up a classroom at home, and have the kids sitting at a desk for 6 hours a day every week day except on the weekends. Surprise, surprise, homeschooling can be done anywhere, anytime.

Stop Worrying About it, You’ve Got This!

During the initial months or even a couple of years, we worry if we are doing enough with our children, we worry if they are learning at the right level, we worry if we have a day where the kids just want to play and won’t do any work. We second guess ourselves all the time, thinking we are failing if they aren’t interested in something and refuse to do it. Sometimes we try to force our kids to follow a routine similar to that of school because we believe that’s the way it’s meant to be done, because that is all we know, because it was drummed into us throughout our own lives. No, no, no, this is not the case. We don’t need to replicate school, because likely that is the very reason your child was not coping in the school environment and you decided to take them out of school to educate them at home. All we do then is just bring the problems they had then, home. Even parents whose children have not attended school before, may find that they still have instilled in them that homeschool should be like school due to their own childhood upbringing.

Deschooling is much of a trial and error process too, just like finding ways to educate your child in a way that benefits them so that they don’t become or remain stuck in a negative mindset about schooling. Everything you believe about what homeschooling should be, needs to be washed away, wipe the slate clean, unlearned. Your child will most likely go through a deschooling process too, where they refuse to do anything that looks like schoolwork for a while. And this is ok. Let them take some time to rest and recuperate if they have been at school and taken out. It’s a whole new life and no one gets it perfect right away. You are not letting them down, you are giving them space, to grow again, to renew their energy and to just let them be for a while. Sure, you will have to submit a report, but as long as you have something to show at the end of the year you can discuss this side of things in your report too. Keep going and eventually you will hit the target and get that bullseye you are aiming for in what works for your child.

Life is One Big Smorgasbord of Educational Material

Don’t sweat the report because everything you do, involves some form of learning. You are using the usual school subject areas everyday. Shopping uses Mathematics, cooking is Science, reading a book or watching TV involves English and if you are already discussing a movie you have watched together, then comprehension is covered. Questioning things they see or hear about can lead to an investigation simply using the internet, there you have Digital Technologies. Walking about in society exposes them to many different cultures and people where you can have conversations about other countries and historical events etc., which becomes your HASS subject matter. Watching documentaries on the many topics of the world is very informative too. Kids are creative in their art, craft or even play so you now have the Arts covered. Anything they build or design such as a Lego construction or a Minecraft world falls into the Design and Technology area. As long as you can see where they have learned and represent it in their report, you are doing just fine. If you have to take time out for deschooling, use what is around you everyday to represent what they have learned.

I Had to Deschool Big Time But I Didn’t Know It at the Time!

I came from an academic background, going all the way through school and then onto and completing university. So my ideas on what should be happening at home and how to structure it were not what it should have been. I thought we needed to follow the curriculum and teach my eldest granddaughter the same subjects at the same level she should have been at school. We bought a curriculum-based program with set subjects and a timeframe to complete them which resembled what my granddaughter had been learning at school. But we couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t do it and we went through similar school refusal to when she was going to school. She started doing the program at first with no worries because it was new and sounded like it would be a bit exciting (that’s how it was described by the website), but soon enough it was very much the same old thing and she came truly unstuck when there was a lot of reading to be done. She hated reading with a passion, so consequently, she refused all of the course. It got to the stage where we couldn’t even use the word “learn” because it reminded her too much of school and she hated anything that was related to learning or school.

Back To The Drawing Board

We had to go back to the drawing board and reassess how we would move forward in her education then. We learned the hard way about deschooling and how important it is. We went down a different path after that which was better, but still needed to be worked on. Each year we tried something new and now do more of an eclectic style of learning which is mostly child-led. We were constantly assessing and reassessing how we were doing and what she was fighting us on and what she was enjoying is a big part of our lives. Now we work with what her own interests are and it works out much better for everyone. She is a very arty and crafty young lady and has taught herself how to draw Manga characters, use a digital art program, she researched the type of iPad would be best for her digital art and even pitched it to us describing the benefits to this particular one. How could we resist that? She also uses YouTube for tutorials on other forms of art and craft. Currently she has been teaching herself crochet and is actually very good at it. This is child-led learning and she manages to teach herself because she actively seeks out and researches the things she wants to learn without it seeming like an education. Seeing her happy and actively and willingly learning, brings us so much joy and she is quite energetic when telling us or showing us what she has learned. All of a sudden, we saw just how capable children are when released from the confines of a structured and uninteresting education system. Let them be and they will thrive.

You Really Don’t Have to do it their Way!

Going back to that first year of homeschooling, we didn’t approve of the book that had been chosen for her to read and write a book review on. It was about a boy who wanted a dog so badly that he refused to eat. To us, that was a recipe for disaster and instead of teaching children about good values etc., it quite possibly could breed an anorexic child or young teen, or simply make a child think that it was a genuine way to get what they wanted and bring that into their own lives. We were, to be honest, quite horrified that this book was the one chosen as part of that year’s curriculum.

It also shed a light on other aspects of the education system’s decline into the woke agenda and we were seriously starting to question what motives were behind the choice of book in a world where mental health issues are rampant. We asked if we could choose another book for her to read and write her review on. That was fine with the company so that was one adjustment we were able to make, and probably the first time we realised we could have more control in her education. We had to find something else to try and give her a different way of looking at it and the book we chose for her was engaging, kept her interest and for the first time in a while, she actually enjoyed reading. Rather, she enjoyed being read to for the most part, which was also OK because we decided that if it got her reading even a small amount and perhaps helped her develop a love for a particular genre, reading to her would be a valuable teaching tool.

This was also something we realised we could do because it was our choice not the system’s as to how we went about her being able to read fluently. If she had been at school, she would be expected to read “x” amount of books herself and she absolutely hated reading so there would be no progress. We therefore gave her the choice of what she wanted to read, because we could, and this started her reading some small books. Over the 3 years since, she has found what type of books interest her and has even been known to borrow books from the library and actually buy books now, which never happened before, and they are generally more larger novels and even sagas over several books. What a win! When you have success like this, you know you did a good thing taking them out of school, away from all of the pressures, rules and expectations. Give yourself and them time to regroup and relax a bit, do fun things together without any expectations and just sit back and watch them blossom and grow,

Spend Time Deschooling, You Won’t Regret it!

In answer to the question “what is deschooling about?” I hope I have given you some good information. Deschooling can take a short time, maybe a few months, or even a few years of trial and error to get it just right. But absolutely none of it is a waste of time. Don’t fret if your child changes their mind because often you just feel you have got it right and your child decides they want to try a different approach again. This has happened with us in that this year my eldest granddaughter decided she’d like to try doing things in a structured way again like the way school does it. I can’t honestly say it’s going according to plan but that’s the homeschool life. We can be flexible too. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can spend time deschooling and reconnecting as a family, put less expectations on yourself and your child and still have time to do some schooling before your report is due and your report does not need to reflect a curriculum. You can use life experience and relate it to learning in various subjects that you have done in the time you were de-schooling, because remember, learning happens everywhere. Spending that time and lessening the pressure on your kids will bring about the most wonderful regaining of a love of learning. I know, because I see it everyday. We just don’t call it learning when talking with my eldest granddaughter, haha!

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have any questions please leave a comment below or connect with me on my dedicated Facebook page.

Warm Wishes and best of luck


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