Why Deschooling is Essential to Your Homeschool
Have you heard of deschooling? Whether or not your child has gone to a traditional school or not, I highly recommend deschooling. Deschooling is a period where you and your child adjust to homeschooling. This helps you and your child let go of the traditional school culture that is ingrained in us. It is a crucial part of beginning your homeschool, especially after spending time in a classroom. Before we jump into why deschooling is essential to your homeschool, please take a moment and pin this post to your homeschool board.
Traditional School Mindset
When beginning your homeschool, you may see some challenging behaviors. It is important to remember that if your child is coming out of a traditional school setting, homeschooling will be an adjustment. Even if they aren’t, if you were raised in a traditional school setting which most likely you were, then this whole homeschool thing is going to be an adjustment for you as well.
It is effortless when you get started with homeschooling to model your homeschool on the traditional school. I know it sounds crazy, but if your growth mindset isn’t fully developed and you haven’t really had experience homeschooling, it is your go-to resource.
It is completely normal for your child or you to need a period of deschooling. Especially if you are a former educator, it is so easy for us to fall into the traditional school mindset and out of our homeschooling growth mindset we just talked about.
We need to transition from comparing our children to everyone else in school to focus independently on our child’s education.
Rethinking Education — School vs. Homeschool—
Let’s start with rethinking how education looks. Answering these questions may help you plan your homeschool. You can even use these as prompts for journaling and dump out all your thoughts to help you create the homeschool that is right for you and your children, but you don’t have to.
- Where should learning take place?
- When should learning take place?
- Who should set the schedule or routine for learning?
- Who is in charge, what regulations do you need to fulfill —every state has its own regulations and requirements— who do you have to report to?
- How should learning occur?
- Do you need to give tests to assess learning? How are you going to assess learning? Are you going to use grades? Are grades like A, B, C, D, or Failing necessary to learning?
- Is memorizing facts and information important?
- Do you need a curriculum to fulfill learning?
- How are you rewarding learning with stickers, food or treats, or privileges? Do you even need to?
- What grade level is your child, and how important is the notion of a grade level?
- What is the best environment for learning?
This is not meant to overwhelm you. I know it can. That is why I am here at the bottom of this list saying STOP! I am the type of person who sometimes still— overthinks and gets overwhelmed, and then I get stuck. It would help if you didn’t get stuck in deschooling or thinking about homeschooling, but I want you to have the best homeschool possible. I want you to have the homeschool of your dreams, and this, getting into how it will all look for you, will help you get really clear on what you need to make the homeschool of your dreams.
Before taking the time to transition from the traditional school mentality, you may be inclined to wake the kids up at 6:30 or 7 am so that way you can start school right on time at 8 am every morning Monday through Friday like your local school. You may be struggling to fill up your day with worksheets, textbooks, and activities to keep your little learner learning from 8 am to 3 pm. You may be struggling with creating super detailed lesson plans for all the subjects and fitting them all in each day.
But then you realize this is not school. This is homeschool, and that means this looks different. It means that it is particular to you and your children. That means you are taking into account the best ways to teach your children, to get them involved and learning. It means you focus 100% on them and what they need — even what you need, seriously. Don’t forget about yourself.
Be Flexible and Let Go of Guilt
I always tell my fellow homeschoolers that the number one thing you need as a homeschooler is the ability to be flexible. You make plans, schedule, buy the supplies, and so on, and when something goes wrong. Your child gets sick, they or you wake up late, you begin to realize that your children are not at a disadvantage if they naturally wake up at 8 am and start school at 10 am. You realize that it is okay if you have errands to run, doctors’ appointments, or the cable company is coming to repair the internet, and you make it work by doing “school” after dinner or on a Saturday! Or if it is really hectic, you realize it is okay to take a day off just for the sake of your mental health. However, if you haven’t deschooled, you may feel extreme guilt or stress over the fact that your homeschool isn’t running like a classroom.
Shifting The Way You See Learning
In the school world, we know that all the things in that list are essential. We know that kids get treats, parties, and rewards for reaching learning goals. We know that classrooms must remain quiet and orderly, and curiosity is controlled. We know that grades are at the top of the priority list, which leads to grade levels and testing. We know in schools that most of the learning occurs at a desk where you are meant to stay seated and work with a curriculum that the school board has approved. We know that children should be reading by six years old and need to read to learn other subjects by third grade, but homeschooling is not school again.
Learning is happening all around us. We know that our kids are learning even when they aren’t sitting at a desk. We know that baking and cooking can teach not only life skills but also math skills. We know that reading aloud to our kids who can and cannot read independently is worthwhile. We know that kids who have a rich literacy environment can begin reading later and be just fine. It isn’t a race. We aren’t focused on intelligence. We are focused on learning and growth.
School at Home Versus Homeschool
Homeschooling often starts with homeschool rooms designed a lot like a classroom, soon the be abandoned used just for storage as the learning happens at the kitchen table, snuggling on the couch or in bed, or a fort created with couch cushions and spare pillows. Sometimes homeschool happens in the yard, park, library, car, or other places in the community.
We know homeschooling happens every day, all day. Whether we count it as school or not, learning is always going on. We know that rote memorization is great for multiplication facts but can be taught through building or baking.
Even as seasoned homeschoolers, many of us struggle with the ghost of traditional school. It runs deeply inside us and our society. Therefore there are many times we need to revisit deschooling. I usually do this at the beginning of our school year, I remind myself what is important and what I want our homeschool to look and be like, but it strikes randomly throughout the year. When I feel like my child should know this, or I feel guilt over not using an expensive curriculum, I purchased thinking it would be the perfect fit for my little learners.
Now that we know why deschooling is so important and how to find the homeschooling of our dreams let’s look at how to deschool — yes, this may then change how the homeschool of your dreams looks, but I have a feeling it will all work out when done together—.
We all decide to homeschool for various reasons. Sometimes schooling was great but not the perfect fit. Sometimes, it was necessary to homeschool for the health and well-being of your child. Whatever the reason, each child’s transition from school to homeschool will be different and specific to them. If your child has had a traumatic time in school, they may associate learning with trauma; therefore, your deschooling may take longer or look slightly different from someone else’s. Deschooling looks slightly different for everyone, just like our homeschool, but either way, it is essential to deschool before you begin or even when you are struggling.