By Shelly Sangrey of There’s No Place Like Home
Are you thinking of homeschooling? Chances are since you’re here reading this post, your answer is YES.
I’m going to be upfront with you. Making this decision is likely to feel overwhelming at times. I mean, let’s face it…educating your children is a huge responsibility, but fear not! I’m going to share with you the one thing that may help you pull through this while keeping your sanity intact.
Not sure what that is? Put simply; deschooling is living life for an extended period of time as if school didn’t exist with the sole purpose of detoxing from preconceived notions of what education has to look like.
Now, when most people hear the term “deschooling,” they immediately associate it with something that children who spent time in school should do before settling into the homeschooling lifestyle, which is true.
However, that’s not the type of deschooling I’m referring to.
What I am referring to is why you, dear homeschool mama, need to deschool YOURSELF.
The fact is, we adults have generally spent far more time in the traditional school institution than our children, so it should go without saying that we need just as much – if not more – time to break free of the “school is the only way to learn” paradigm.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. In our determination to support our kids in this brand new endeavor, we forget that deschooling will never truly happen without a parent who has learned to let go of what society typically deems a “proper” education.
Today I’m going to share with you how to do that.
This post may contain affiliate links, you can find my disclosure policy here.
5 Steps to Deschooling Yourself Before Homeschooling Your Kids
1. Don’t Look at that Curriculum Website
I know, I know. Shopping for curriculum is fun.
As fun as it may be, however, this is one of the last things you need to do at this time. After all, how will you break free of your compulsory school mindset if you keep looking at things that remind you of it?
Take a deep breath, and let. it. go.
2. Put the Planner Away
Now is not the time to start planning your homeschool year. You need to allow yourself time to see the many ways organic learning can happen. Jumping into planning mode too soon will almost guarantee a re-creation of public school at home. While that may be your homeschool method of choice when all is said and done, that decision shouldn’t be made until after you’ve seen the benefits of what natural learning looks like.
3. Time to Read, Read, Read
The deschooling period is the perfect time to do your research on homeschooling, education, and, most importantly, how children best learn.
The late John Holt was a former teacher who eventually became known as “the father of unschooling,” (which was the original term for homeschooling). He spent an extended period of his life simply observing children in their homes, at school, and out in the community and wrote numerous books describing the value and effectiveness of letting kids learn from life.
John Taylor Gatto is also a former teacher who now specializes in educating people on the rather dark history of compulsory schooling and why, therefore, its methods should not be replicated for an optimal educational environment.
4. Live Life as if School Doesn’t Exist
This can be the hardest part of the deschooling process because homeschooling parents are very conscientious of the fact that they are responsible for their children’s education.
I get it.
But living every day trying to identify which subjects are being covered while your child is playing, reading, or interacting will not be fruitful.
Forget school. Forget subjects. Push your past experiences with school out of your mind and live as if every single day were Saturday.
Take the time to enjoy your children. Be with them. Observe them. Find out what makes them tick and what sends them running in the other direction.
But please, please, do not try to conform their activities to fit within school subjects. That time will come, but not until this process is over.
Join me in my Homeschool Mindset Facebook Group.
5. Take as Long as You Need
As a rule of thumb, most homeschool veterans recommend spending one-month deschooling for every year your child was in school.
While that may seem like a REALLY long time to not be doing structured learning, keep in mind that learning happens every day, whether you’re intentional about it or not.
Just as with everything else related to homeschooling, the length of time spent deschooling will vary with each family. Some families need more time. Some less. The key is to relax and not rush the process.
And remember. Many homeschooling families adopt this philosophy permanently and continue to learn using only life as a curriculum.
As a new homeschooler, beginning the deschooling process can be scary because it involves abandoning the traditional school model and developing a trust for what children do naturally on their own.
Once you’ve experienced the benefits and learn to embrace a more holistic educational environment, however, you will never look at “school” the same way again.
I guarantee it.