At the VaHomeschoolers Conference yesterday, one of my talks was “Beyond School Daze: The Deschooling Process.”
Deschooling is the transition time between school and homeschooling, a period of adjustment that both parents and kids have to make as they change from school norms to new family norms.
Experienced homeschoolers recommend that families who are new to homeschooling take a period of time to “de-school” before launching into home education. It’s counter-intuitive, but often children need some time to rediscover their interests, their natural rhythm of learning, their sense of curiosity, and what drives them to engage. During a deschooling period, parents can tune in to what is creating a spark in their kids, and use that information to help decide on an approach to homeschooling and what to look for in a curriculum, if they are going to use one.
It’s all part of getting “out of the box” of school. I watched and heard some cognitive dissonance as parents were wrapping their heads around these new ideas. Frequently parents come to homeschooling determined to do it to the utmost so they won’t “mess up the kids.” It can be startling to be told the first thing need to do is . . . not do a formal approach to “school.”
However, I did give them a long list of educational and family-oriented things to do together with their children — read, watch documentaries, go to museums, visit parks and natural areas, tour historical sites, get outside, get moving, create art, make stuff, re-connect with relatives and friends, meet your librarians, and network and find friends.
I also told them to think of whether there is school reason or a good reason to do things with your homeschooling child — noting that there is often overlap (so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater), but that you don’t have to do things just because those things were done in school. Instead, you can choose to do the things that work effectively for your child.
That’s what results in engagement.
As I promised my audience, I’m providing the links to a lot of deschooling articles I’ve written — which contain links to most of the sources I listed on the thick handout I distributed with the talk. It’s just so much easier to click through, and I know after I attend any kind of conference, I enjoy going home and reading material by the presenters and thinking through things more deliberately.
These articles are over at TheHomeSchoolMom.com blog, where I’ve been given a wonderful space to reach many homeschoolers with my ideas, which frequently lead to my presentations — and vice versa.
“Will Homeschooling Help ADD/ADHD?” (Beginning to Homeschool a Child with ADD/ADHD Diagnosis or Tendencies)
Five Part Series on Parental Deschooling:
And in case all this “deschooling talk” makes you think homeschoolers are anti-school — that’s just not true. It’s just that the two approaches to education are entirely different. For a look at what homeschoolers think about school, read my article “Do Homeschoolers Hate Public School?”
You might also enjoy my Instead of Curriculum series at TheHomeSchoolMom.com, which has a great many very specific ideas of things children learn from at home that are outside the usual idea of “curriculum.” These ideas are for fun and interesting things to do during the deschooling period — and because they are high quality, engaging activities, you’ll begin to see how learning can take place outside of an institutional environment.
Or just browse all the Jeanne Faulconer homeschooling articles over at TheHomeSchoolMom.com. A lot of them fit an aspect of deschooling you may want to explore further.