If you are a new homeschooler or thinking about it, learning how to deschool your kids and yourself can be a part of a smooth transition from public school to homeschool. You may be unaware of the effects of even a few months or weeks of having your kids in public school. To help your family shed public school mentality, find out more here about deschooling and use these tips to ensure a positive transition.
What is Deschooling?
As I shared in One Powerful Way that New Homeschoolers Can Thrive, deschooling is the time necessary for a new homeschool family, including kids and parents, to adapt to their new lifestyle of home education.
A deschooling period allows your family to shrug off public school mentality as you take a break from formal lessons and activities. During this time, your kids rediscover their love of learning as they have the opportunity to explore an educational atmosphere at home.
Deschooling helps your kids and yourself rediscover the joys of being together. Those long hours at public school can take a toll on your relationships. You may need time to become accustomed to each other’s presence.
Also, you can let go of feeling rushed. You know, those hi-and-bye mornings. Instead of hurrying to get ready to sprint out the door to the bus stop, your kids and start to savor their mornings, possibly even sleep in a bit.
With any transition, there is a period of adjustment. Although you may have high hopes for everyone to eagerly embrace the change to homeschooling, your kids may experience a few struggles. Perhaps they miss friends or structure? Or maybe they really enjoyed riding on the bus? Whatever your child is having a problem adjusting to (or without), you can use your deschooling period to process and help.
And don’t forget yourself, mama! The transition from public school to homeschooling can feel like you have had the rug pulled out from underneath you. Your schedule may feel like it has been turned topsy-turvy. Errands and chores become complicated and require a new approach.
Instead of plowing right into homeschool lessons and activities, deschooling affords your kids and yourself the time to adjust your perspectives and routines.
How to Deschool: Tips to Help You & Your Kids
The most important part to remember about deschooling is that your family is unique. These tips can help but you are the one that knows your kids and yourself best. Tweak these tips where necessary and prepare to be flexible in your thoughts and behaviors.
In 8 Helpful Tips to Help New Homeschool Families, I shared my family’s experiences from pulling our two older boys from public school and bringing them home for their education. Those eight tips are derived from what we learned through trial and error plus a bit of research.
Here are two bonus tips on how to deschool to help if you have decided that it can benefit your family:
Use this gift of time with your kids to reconnect. Enjoy slow breakfasts and chats over cereal. Play board games. Take long, leisurely walks as you freely discuss whatever topic that comes up.
If your kids want to talk about public school experiences, just sit and listen. Be a sounding board for their thoughts and feelings. Ask for their feedback about how they would like your homeschool to flow.
If your kids don’t want to talk about public school, that’s okay, too. They may want to talk about everything but public school. If you are truly concerned, ask a few gentle questions like, “I’m wondering how you are doing. What’s going on for you as far as school?” They will answer if they need to.
2. Slowly reintroduce structure
Structure is not a bad thing. It just might not be necessary in your first days of deschooling.
Unless you and your kids truly thrive on routine, I would encourage you to allow as much freedom as possible in your first few days of deschooling. Remember, taking this break will not eternally damage your kids or create gaps in their education. They will not fall behind. In fact, this break may be just what they need to reignite their enthusiasm for learning.
After a few days, talk with your kids about reintroducing structure. Tell them you will be adding a few activities, possibly lessons, here and there. If your kids would like a specific time of day to do them, so be it. If not, just go with what seems natural. The key is to keep these activities and lessons as low stress as possible.
Your deschooling period may last only a few days or may require a few weeks. No matter what, it’s okay. There are no hard and fast rules with deschooling. It will become just the first of many tools that you use to have an authentic and effective homeschool.
Check out these additional resources and support on how to deschool to help you along your journey.
How could a period of deschooling help your family?
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Amy Milcic is a mental health therapist turned homeschool soccer mom to 5 boys. Her passion is to show that homeschooling can be authentic, effective & fun with the right resources & support. Join her every weekday morning for Homeschool Coffee Talk @ facebook.com/RockYourHomeschool. She blogs at RockYourHomeschool.net and she’s also co-owner of Planner Squad, a site dedicated to uniting the planner community.