What is Deschooling? (And How This Mama Does It!)

You’ve done it. After researching and spending countless nights tossing and turning in bed while you try to sleep wondering if you are making the right decision, you finally decided to enter the world of unschooling. So what now? How do you start? Where do you begin? Read on, friend! See how we did it after YEARS of ingrained traditional schooling! Start right here with deschooling. After all, it is why you keep tossing and turning.

A Deschooling Definition

Deschooling is the process of ridding yourself of the idea of traditional school. It’s reprogramming your mind to view learning in a different way. It’s a period of time to let go of the conventional ideas of schooling and embrace life.

Why is it Important to Deschool?

When we first entered the world of homeschooling, we were “school at home” homeschoolers. In other words, I was merely replicating what I had known as “school” in my home instead of following my son’s interests. After many bouts of finding myself crying in the laundry room, I came to find unschooling. Thinking I could jump into it was a HUGE mistake. I learned quickly that I could not skip the deschooling step that I had read so much about.

Do I Have to Deschool?

YES, YES, and YES. I mean, your homeschool is yours to decide to do what you want, so no, you don’t HAVE to do it. But should you? Will it make your transition easier? Unequivocally, YES. (And then you can avoid crying in the laundry room as I did!)

How Long Must I Deschool?

There is no rock-solid answer to this question. There is, however, a general rule of thumb which says that you should homeschool one month for every year that your child has attended traditional school. You will likely find, though, as you follow your child’s interests and run down those rabbit holes, that you periodically need to take moments of deschooling in between those as well.

What Does Deschooling Look Like?

Deschooling will look different in every family, just as unschooling does. Below is a list of what we do in our family when it is time to deschool.

Visit the library. Visiting the library is one of our favorite things to do while deschooling. There is no pressure to find certain books. Just search around and find what interests you. Occasionally we have found programs of interest while there too. Again, no pressure to participate but a great way to keep learning and growing.

Go to museums. We love checking out museums anytime! But checking them out while deschooling is another great way to see what piques your child’s interest and where that may lead. It’s also just a great time to be together!

Play board games. This is another one we love! Playing board games is not only fun but can open up lots of opportunities to chat and learn what your child is most interested in.

Play video games. I know this one can be seen as fairly taboo, but try to let go of that. My son is a gamer through and through. He loves it, there is no denying it. Despite what can be viewed as getting a bad rap, there are benefits to gaming. My son learned a game where he got to be an airplane pilot. Later that year he joined my uncle in his hobby of flying remote control model airplanes, a huge interest of his, and he was a natural at flying them thanks to that game teaching him the skills he needed. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of skills that video games can offer.

Create. Allow your child to dream, build, and create. Get out painting supplies if that is their thing. Or gather some scrap wood, nails, and a hammer and see what he or she can imagine and build. Legos, puzzles, whatever sparks their interest.

Get outside. Go for a hike. Explore nature. Find bugs and nests. Break open seed pods. Wade in the local stream. Build a fort. Plant a garden. So many possibilities.

Embrace downtime. Reject the idea that if your child is sitting around in pajamas that they are being lazy or not learning. Use this time to re-fuel and reconnect. You won’t regret that time together.

Is Deschooling Just for the Kids?

Not at all. Deschooling is often more for the parents than the kids. Most of us parents have likely had the idea of traditional school ingrained in us. Just yesterday I heard someone telling the story of how her daughter was pleading to be homeschooled. The mother’s reply was, “Too bad. I had to go to school as a kid, and so do you.” Well, the reality is, no, there is a better way. But we must first let go of what we have come to know as “the only right way” to educate. And for us parents especially, that means we too must first deschool.

Deschooling: That’s a Wrap

Deschooling is a process in which you rid yourself of the idea of school. A time that you take to let go of everything that reflects traditional schooling. It is also a time to grow together and connect. A time to discover your child’s interests and maybe even a few of your own. And then, when you finally let go of those ideas, you will be free to follow your child’s true passions and choose a joy-filled life.

Once you are finished deschooling and ready to begin the freedom of unschooling, be sure to check out this blog post Unschooling: What is it?