How to start Deschooling and Unschooling
Bobby is a parent at Galileo who shares her experience with deschooling during the transition to at-home education.
I came across the term deschooling many years ago, when I was going deeper into reading about self-directed learning and unschooling.
Deschooling is used to describe the time a family chooses to spend when transitioning from the school system to another alternative.
This period is for recovering from the time when the child was going to school and everything was set in strict schedules, assignments, and tests, a time when the child didn’t have a choice.
Deschooling is important not only for the child but for the parents too, as everyone needs to be on board with the choices made after.
Our Introduction to Deschooling
When I read about it first I thought that as we have always homeschooled, the deschooling process is not something that we need to apply to our family.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
When my children reached school age, I realized that I was starting to have certain expectations about the things they should be doing/learning/watching.
I realized what was happening and decided to take a step back. I needed to change my mindset. I was coming from the traditional school system, where children are expected to know and be able to do certain things at a certain age.
Even though I had different views about education, pressure from society was getting to me.
I needed to trust my children that they are the ones who know better what to learn at each moment.
I needed to show them that they own their learning experience.
How did I do that? I deschooled myself.
I connected with other homeschoolers who have been around for a lot longer than me and were happy to share their adventures and learnings. I needed real people and real stories. I also...
- Spent a lot of time watching my children and their friends playing and when they were so engaged at the moment, whatever current interest that may be.
- Remembered what was missing in my life when I was a child at school.
- Examined how I learn as an adult when I am passionate about something.
- Reflected on our days when there was no pressure to do, learn, or deliver.
- But most importantly - I let my children be and trusted them.
Tips to start Deschooling
Now, years later, I still take deschooling as a very important part of the family learning experience.
You need to give your family some time to transition from school to alternative education. Use it to...
- connect again with each other as a family
- learn more about each other
- ask yourself what is important for you and for your child
- learn to trust your child and each other for the choices you will all make
- have fun
- explore new interests and hobbies
- be together
- let your child be
- let go of your expectations
You’ll be grateful for this opportunity as it will bring you clarity on how you all want to move forward with education.
"I am already homeschooling, should I deschool?"
If you are already homeschooling, you might want to consider devoting some time to deschooling too. Use it to reflect on...
- Your family’s rhythm: is it working for you and your child?
- The learning paths for your children: is everyone still happy and engaged?
- Your family’s lifestyle
- Priorities for you and your family now: have there been any changes in your beliefs or values?
- How do you feel?
- How does your child feel?
- What are your needs right now and in the near future?
- What are your child’s needs now?
- What would you like to change (if anything)?
Allow this time for your child too.
More often than not children need to have time off so that they can step back, consider and then make new choices. They will use the deschooling process to..
- Get to know themselves better
- Start asking new questions
- Start looking for answers
- Start exploring what is this new thing they might be interested in
- Connect with you
- Have fun with no expectations for the outcomes
- Trust themselves and their choices
- Find what is important for them now
- Just be in the present moment
Deschooling is Different for Everyone
How deschooling happens depends on you and your family. It’s affected by the things you like to do together, that connect you with each other, and that bring you joy. For my family, it looked like this...
We decided to give ourselves a month.
My kids have never been to a traditional school, so they didn’t have to recover from that exposure. This time was mainly used to reflect on what works for us as a family and how our children are learning if I am not scheduling it.
Our days started with a breakfast meeting, where everyone will share their plans for the day - are we planning some activities together as a family, are we visiting friends, cycling, hiking, trying out a new recipe, trying new things (pottery, robotics, building a treehouse, electronics), reading, playing, or watching movies?
We would finish the day with a family dinner where we reflected on what we did, how it felt, and would we change something for tomorrow. Everyone knew that we used this to connect with each other, but also to find new exciting things and spend as much time as was needed doing what we love.
I have spent a lot of time watching and listening to my children and realized that they have been learning all the time, just not the way I had set it in my head.
So when you decide to give yourself and your family some deschooling time, the right way is to let go of your expectations, trust your child and have fun.
It will help if you discuss and reflect on your days together and it’s very important to give yourselves time.
...For how long?
You’ll know that the deschooling has finished when you start making new plans for yourself and your family.
Learn more about Galileo and deschooling here.