Since most of us have spent some time in school, we have to undo some of thoughts we have about learning. We often think about learning the way school presented it to us. Academically, we think about grades, testing, "keeping up," avoiding "gaps."
Socially, we think about making friends, learning from other adults, cooperating in groups, and even little things like "homeroom parties," etc.
These are the tips of the icebergs that can exist in a parent's head. Children, depending on how influential school has been on them, can suffer from these misconceptions as well.
Deschooling is the term we use when people are trying to get past the school version of learning and open to the idea that learning is actually much bigger than that. We create stories around these thoughts and often create hurdles we have to overcome.
If you had a less than stellar school experience it might be easier to walk away from all the schoolish ways of learning, socializing and connecting. Still, since unschoolers and homeschooers are such a small segment of the general population, things like back-to-school sales, football games, and prom season may trigger some wistfulness that you or your child harbors.
Your child may think they have to do worksheets to demonstrate learning, or that authoritarian top-down teaching methods are required to learn. Children who had a rough time in school may need time to relax into this new approach. On the outside, it may look like a lot of "vegging out" or TV/video time. Enjoy that time with them. Help them recover from their school experience. Show them that life is fun and that you mean it when you say that learning doesn't have to look like school. It may take a little while for them to trust that you really mean that. It may take YOU a little while to really believe it yourself. That's ok. That's why deschooling takes a while.
There's no reason to rush - you have plenty of time now!
On the flipside, children who were People Pleasers at school, may think you’ve lost your mind! They may have gotten really good at figuring out how the system worked, and now you’ve turned it all upside down. These children may need you to help them identify ways that they learned outside of a school setting. You may need to talk to them about ways the adults in their lives learn new things. And, it may take a while to undo some of the conditioning that has happened in years of school attendance.
How quickly a family moves through the deschooling process will be unique to your child, yourself, and your family. You may even revisit ideas that were buried but surface later when you child enters a new developmental phase. That's ok, you're human! And schools have been big parts of the average modern life. Give yourself some time to get acquainted with this new way of approaching learning and shucking the shackles of the school's version of education!
Deschooling can be one of the hardest things for parents to do. We’re all wrapped up in fear with so many voices shouting at us… some are internal, some are really people in our lives!
We’ve had years - decades, often - of being convinced that learning/education has to look a certain way.
And here you are in an Unschooling community, hearing that learning is everywhere and how we’re all hard-wired to learn!
It’s a mental shift - for sure.
And it takes a long time.
They used to say you need a month of deschooling for every year you spent in school, but I’m thinking that’s not long enough. Deschooling comes in waves. You may initially move through it pretty easily, only to have it return with a vengeance once the kids reach double digits or teen years - or maybe even at the start of each new school year.
And this is where the problem really is - it’s not the same for everyone! Everyone brings different baggage, so to speak. Everyone has different fears and concerns.
We haven’t really been encouraged to pull out these worries and examine them, breaking them apart, seeing what’s a rational fear and what just isn’t. I have my own theories on why this is - but we'll talk about that somewhere else!
So what do you do?
I think you need 3 things to be successful at unschooling
KNOWLEDGE + SUPPORT + ACTION
- You may need more information on a particular topic.
Maybe examples of how kids can learn like this or examples of unschooling days.
- You may need more support. You may feel isolated and need to tap into a community of unschoolers.
You really don’t have to do this alone!
- And you need to take action. Sometimes we hide behind “researching” it all, or reading another FB post, or gathering more information. The answers are often revealed to us AS we interact with our children and see what they need.
Because this is quite a process, I have several resources for you:
- Unschooling Guide: Deschooling
- 365 Days of Deschooling
- Unschooling Guide: "Am I Doing Enough?"
- Read the articles below.
- Listen to the Unschooling Mom2Mom Podcast: Deschooling - For HOW long??
- Join Sue's Creating Confidence Membership Group
Need More Help with Deschooling?
This Unschooling Guide will help you through the process!
We have quite a bit of unlearning to do, right?
Here's what you'll find in this Unschooling Guide about Deschooling:
- A full color 20-page mini-magazine
- Practical solutions for issues that arise in your home during this phase
- How to cope with community criticism
- Looking back on your own school experiences and how they affect you today
- Deschooling tips about learning, parenting, and the kids
- Strategies for connecting more with the children as they deschool
- Journaling prompts to dive deeper
- Even an "Unschooling Curriculum!" ????
DON'T SKIP PAST THE DESCHOOLING PHASE
REGARDLESS OF YOUR HOMESCHOOLING METHOD!
Let me share years of experience- you don't have to reinvent the wheel!
More to Read about Deschooling...
Sue shares important tips to remember when you begin deschooling.
Sue gives 8 "Keys" to keep in the front of your mind when you're working your way through the deschooling process.
Let's stay practical here! After 25 years of unschooling, Sue Patterson shares ways to make this work!
HOW DO I STOP WANTING TO SEE SCHOOLISH LEARNING?
Letting go of structure can make parents worry. Joyce tackles several different parent questions about how children learn practical skills without "being forced to sit down and learn."
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DESCHOOLING BEFORE UNSCHOOLING
ISSA WATERS | UNSCHOOLING MOM2MOM BLOG
Issa considers the first step of unschooling to be deschooling. Read this in depth explanation of how to deschool.
DESCHOOLING READING LIST
ZAKIYYA ISMAIL | GROWING MINDS AND HEARTS
Reimagining Learning and Education: Thought provoking short reads and their links, exploring issues in education and schooling.
WHAT IS DESCHOOLING
PAM LARICCHIA | LIVING JOYFULLY
If school was a negative experience for your kids, they will need time to recover from that. Give yourselves time to adjust to the freedom of no school routines (stay up late and sleep in!); the freedom of not being told what to do every minute of the day. Everyone has lots of time now to relax and unwind, to try new things. To discover their interests and rediscover the joy of learning!
DESCHOOLING A PARENT - LEARNING TO TRUST
JAN HUNT | NATURAL CHILD PROJECT
Parents must unlearn many unfounded assumptions about learning that we were conditioned to believe for so many years. If we can do that, we can rediscover the natural love of learning we were born with.
WHY YOU CAN'T LET GO
JOYCE FETTEROLL | CONFERENCE TALK
Joyce's first unschooling talk. Lots of discussion about math - since it's so hard to let go of!
DESCHOOLING - WHY IT'S IMPORTANT
MICHELLE CONAWAY | TEXAS UNSCHOOLERS
Deschooling can help us shed the belief that learning has to happen in a certain way. It opens our eyes to the learning that is happening in every activity we participate in.
DESCHOOLING FOR PARENTS
Sandra gives quick as well as gradual suggestions for the deschooling and moving toward unschooling.
"Stop thinking schoolishly. Stop acting teacherishly. Stop talking about learning as though it's separate from life."
Do you need to read a little more about how unschooling can work?
Or Maybe You're Still Not Convinced...
We've collected a lot of articles about why school is not the best place for children. Sometimes we need a little help taking off those rose-colored glasses.