3 Reasons Deschooling is an Ambitious Life-Long Journey

Is deschooling a finite process in which one day you will emerge free from the confines of the school mindset?

Perhaps, but I have found it to be an ongoing journey that might last a lifetime. Why?

Deschooling Reasons

Indoctrination Begins Early

When I was a child, very few children attended preschool. Today it is seen as a necessity required to give children a head start.

However, we did have kindergarten which I began at the ripe age of 5 years and two months.

Think about that; I had only been alive for about 62 months. You can barely pay off a new car in that amount of time today.

Not only that but between the ages of 5 and 21, a span of 16 years, I spent almost a full 13 years in school. So of course, it becomes a driving force in our development and understanding of the world.

But today many parents would see it as educational neglect to deny their three-year-olds preschool. Won’t they be behind?

So our hyper-competitive society, a trait reinforced daily in school, has become so enthralled with early learning, we have flashcards and educational product marketed to babies.

If you think about it, these beliefs existed before we were even born, so the indoctrination is insidious, strong-held, and rarely questioned.

Homeschool Strewing

Educational Stress Lingers

They are dreams that haunted me for years.  Did I drop the class or have I missed the whole semester and didn’t know it?  The 10-page paper is due in the morning, and I haven’t written a word.  I’ve skipped a class so much; I’ll never catch up.

Now, I never did any of these things in my 20 or so years of schooling. Well, I may have procrastinated on papers but never up until the last night.  These fears frequently inhabit my dreams and the stress seemed very real.

Finally, at 40 or so they seemed to stop, and I took that as a positive sign maybe I had officially deschooled myself. It had taken 20 years, an amount of time equal to what I had spent in school, but I had done it. Or had I?

There was a big break, but I did have them again. What is fascinating about this is that before marrying I had a stressful job, yet I never dreamed about the stress of working. Was it because that was a briefer period in my life?

I don’t think so.

The significant difference is that school was compulsory and work was a free choice. I chose to take that job, and I decided to leave that job. School was never a choice, and it was something you were required to do.

The Shadow of School is Everywhere

What grade are you in?

What, no school today?

Are you ready for summer break?

As a homeschooled child, these will be common questions.

As a homeschool parent you will be asked if you can teach algebra, when will you start the new school year, and hear exclamations about your patience and sanity. Usually right in front of your children.

Schedules for everything revolve around the school year, vacation rental costs double in the summer, and most activities are organized and structured to mimic school.

We can try, but entirely escaping the grip of school seems impossible.

Deschooling as a Life-Long Journey

Many homeschool experts advise taking one month to deschool for each year of schooling a child completed.

Following that advice, I should have needed about two years of deschooling, but I’ve come up with my own beliefs about the deschooling process.

It seems reasonable that an 8-year-old with only 3-4 years of schooling behind him could deschool himself in a few months. He’s young and resilient.

But you see, I was a 30-year-old mom with this crazy idea she could homeschool her children. I have completed 13 years of public education and have both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. My indoctrination is deep.

So I believe those of us who have chosen to homeschool our children, after our lengthy presence in an institutional setting, should realize our deschooling process may be life-long.

It’s like having 20 layers of paint you wish to remove, versus 2. Most people just continue to repaint in an attempt to make it look acceptable.

But those who choose to refinish have a lot of work ahead, and it is sometimes necessary to accept that we will never fully reveal the original surface.

Be Proud of Your Deschooling Success

How long will it take you to deschool? Who knows, but no matter how long it takes, be proud of each step forward.

The first step was the decision to homeschool.

After that decision, the next step in the journey is up to you.

Homeschool strewing

Are you ready for the next step in your deschooling journey? Kelly, at Fearless Homeschool has created the mini-course, Deschooling Essentials, to get you started on the deschooling path.

I appreciated her discussion about the impacts of schooling on both she and her husband. They were very different, but both suffered from the structure of school.

This course is perfect for the parent who realizes they need to actively pursue the goal of deschooling.

While you’re there, also check out the Start Homeschooling Summit. I was honored to be a part of this great event discussing ways to make life do the educating. Included in this summit are 33 workshops and over 25 homeschooling resources from homeschool moms. There are also two workshops available to preview free.


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About Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six, always-homeschooled children, who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of homeschooling draws upon Classical to Unschooling and everything in between.  While homeschooling her children and writing about learning outside of school, she tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills.

2 thoughts on “3 Reasons Deschooling is an Ambitious Life-Long Journey

  1. I love the layers of paint analogy – so true!

    I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘done’, really. Whenever I think I’m doing well a problem will pop up that requires much more than surface thought or an automatic reaction. It’s amazing how much schooling affects us.

  2. Oh so true! I too have my masters– In teaching at that so once I graduated I went right into school as a teacher lesson planning and all that stuff that goes along with it. We’ve been homeschooling for 6 years now and I KNOW I still fall back into teacher/ student/ book mode more often than I’d like. I have to remind myself that it’s OK to step back and do things differently. Pinned.

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