If your child attended a formal school (public or private) until now, this post is for you. Before we get started, I need to make a distinction; this post is not about deschooling as defined by Ivan Illich’s work Deschooling Society from 1971. This post is about the transition between schooling and homeschooling your child or children. Deschooling is a process where your child or children ‘de-program’ and adjust to learning in the home environment. Now, there are two kind of reactions to this:
- You believe deschooling is necessary and you schedule in a deschooling period (keep reading)
- You don’t believe deschooling is necessary, after all, your child seems anxious to get started and you don’t want lose the momentum. I get you, sister, I believed the same thing. Skip this post, but pin it, because if your experience is anything like mine, you might want to read it in about one to four weeks.
Deschooling looks different for each child and each family. Ultimately, this is time for you and your child (children) to spend together and acclimate to learning at home. At school, nearly everything your child did throughout the day was scheduled and regimented, including when she used the bathroom. She is used to learning in a room full of other children around the same age, participating in group activities, completing early finisher activities, and school lasting 7 hours a day.
Deschooling activities to consider that may appeal to a wide variety of grades:
- Choose a book to read aloud. I suggest a classic like Treasure Island, The Hobbit, The Magician’s Nephew, or Little Women
- go on lots of field trips: the zoo, a science center/museum, art museums, build-it workshops at Home Depot or maker spaces
- go to the library
- go outside, even in winter: play outside, kick or throw a ball, run races, go on nature walks, go to parks
- get a day pass (or a monthly pass) and go swimming, ice skaing, bowling
- draw, paint, or sculpt
- play games; lots and lots of board and card games of all kinds
- conduct science experiments
- play video games, pc games, and apps
- build things (trust me, no child is too old to build)
- watch movies, documentaries, tv shows
- attend a play, puppet show, musical performance, or dance performance
Use this time to find classes or groups for your children to plug into and meet people. If your child has been bullied, you may want to delay this step until those issues have been worked through.
Now, some of you will be freaking out about schedules, getting through curricula, and everything in-between. My best, heart-felt advice to you is this: stop. I promise, learning happens everywhere, all the time. Your child will learn during deschooling. She will learn that math is fun and intriguing through math games and YouTube videos. She will explore engineering and science while building simple machines with LEGOs.
Different children react to homeschooling differently. Even the most eager to be homeschooled may have second thoughts or miss something from their school experience. Is it a “growing pain” into this new chapter or something they’d like to see replicated? If they miss recess, see if you can find homeschool park days in your area. If they miss art class, buy a curriculum, online classes, or find a local class to attend.
This is a new adventure for both of you, there may be some bumps along the road. There are bumps in every education choice available. You don’t have to go it alone. I highly recommend you find a group for homeschool parents. Look for local groups that meet face to face or look for online groups, like Facebook groups. These groups are full of people who have been through it all from deschooling to preparing homeschoolers for college. Don’t be afraid to leave a group that turns out not to be a good fit. Keep searching, you’ll find the right group for you.