If you are interested in homeschooling your children, no doubt you have a lot of questions. You’ve probably read numerous blog posts urging you to deschool, but what the heck is it?
For most homeschoolers, deschooling is a period of time where the mental process of switching gears from public school to homeschooling can be slow and tricky to navigate at first. This blog post will guide why both kids and parents need to deschool and tips on how to do so successfully.
The Importance of Deschooling
Deschooling is the transition period between formal schooling and homeschooling. It’s where both kids and parents rethink what education looks and feels like and then adjust their mind frames to the changes that the new system entails.
During this time, kids will often feel discombobulated and bored. They may exhibit anxiety about attending homeschool meetups or resist any new curriculum thrust upon them.
Change takes time and patience. Your child needs to decompress and explore their interests. It’s not the time to double down on homeschooling; instead, kids need at least one month for each year they were in school to disconnect from the old system completely.
Allowing your child to deschool will not only help them to accept the new lifestyle, but it will also make your homeschool year a lot smoother.
Why Parents Need to Do It, Too
Along the same lines, it’s important for you as the homeschool parent to take time to deschool. Using the formula above would mean that you will need to take 12+ months to deschool yourself completely.
Obviously, this may not be feasible if you have state requirements that your child needs to meet to legally homeschool, but if you have the time and inclination, why not take a year off from schooling? Kind of like a gap year that many young adults take after graduating from high school and before attending college.
If you cannot or do not want your child to take a whole year off, then you as the parent should take some time to NOT think about homeschooling before you begin.
I know, I know!
Doing nothing school-related will be so hard to do as a new homeschooler when you’re so looking forward to buying curriculum and school supplies, eager to plan out your year, and influenced by all of the seasoned homeschoolers on Instagram.
But trust me, you’ll need this time to decompress and rewire your brain to get yourself into that homeschool mind frame. Your goal is to have realistic expectations of what your child will learn and how they will learn it.
It would be best if you had time to slow down to avoid that desire to keep up with what your kid’s public school friends are doing. It would help if you accepted that learning doesn’t always come out of a textbook or workbook and that reading aloud to your 14-year-old is perfectly acceptable. You need to fully let go of what you “think” school should look like and flow into all the possibilities that homeschooling could be.
You’ll be glad you did it.
Tips for Successful Deschooling
My main tip for you and your child is to relax.
- Enjoy the outdoors and go on a hike and observe the flora and fauna of the area.
- Visit your local library and check out some fun books to read.
- Spend LOTS of time reading, alone and out loud.
- Watch documentaries about whatever interests you and your kids.
- Cook together and develop a routine to keep your house tidy.
- Go on field trips to local museums and historical sites.
- Get creative and paint, draw, or craft.
Once you’ve relaxed, now it’s time to reframe your mindset around education.
- Read books about homeschooling, brain development, and habit formation. Make sure you check out 10 Must-Read Books for New Homeschoolers to get some ideas on what you should read.
- Discover your teaching style.
- Observe your child to help you pinpoint their learning style(s).
Next, create your homeschool guide
- The first step is to write out a Mission Statement detailing why you’re homeschooling. This is especially helpful to have as it will be a gentle reminder for when things get tough during that first year or two of homeschooling.
- Once you’ve developed your Mission Statement, the next step is to write out a Vision Statement. This is how you’ll homeschool in more general terms. This list will guide your choices in homeschooling methodologies, curriculum, resources, and enrichment activities.
Now you’re ready to look at curriculum.
- Sit down with your child and brainstorm topics you’d both like your child to tackle this year.
- Find curriculum or create your own (that is if you haven’t fully embraced the unschooling lifestyle, which often happens when folks completely deschool) based on your Mission and Vision Statements, brainstorm list, your teaching style, and your child’s learning style. I know this will be a challenge, so be okay with checking only some of your boxes off.
- Plan out the school year however you see fit.
- And ease into it slowly as you develop your daily rhythm.
Deschooling is an integral part of the homeschooling journey. Both kids and parents benefit from the process, allowing time to reframe your mindset around what education and learning look like.
Let me know how it goes with your kids and your homeschool journey!
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.