What is Deschooling and Why is it Important?

family spending time in nature

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Whenever someone asks me “how do I start homeschooling?” I always recommend deschooling after officially withdrawing. What is deschooling? Is deschooling important? Of course, the answer will be different for everyone but, in my experience, taking the time to deschool was very important in setting our homeschool experience up for success.

Making the decision to homeschool wasn’t the easiest decision for us. Of course, we definitely had our reasons for making the switch from public school, but it was scary to enter “a whole new world.” (did you sing that just like Aladdin, too?)

While I was researching things like “how to start homeschooling,” one piece of advice kept popping up all over social media. It confused the heck out of me because it was something I’d never heard of and, once I learned more, it was something I hadn’t even considered doing before I started all the research.

The advice? Take time to deschool.

Deschooling Explained

Now, I must preface the following about homeschooling by first making sure you understand: deschooling is better suited for families that have no intention of returning to a traditional school setting.

In a nutshell, when deschooling, time is taken the time to “unlearn” the typical routines, rules, and expectations set in the traditional school setting while time is also spent essentially “recalibrating” a love of learning.

If you ask me, deschooling is a process for both the parents & the children because, ultimately, both parties have been impacted by the experience of traditional schooling. If homeschooling after traditional schooling is going to have any opportunity to be successful, a period of deschooling is both necessary and helpful.

Because every family is different and we’ve all had differing experiences, the length of time spent deschooling can vary from family to family. It could be a matter of weeks or even months. Most recommendations I’ve seen typically suggest 1 month of deschooling per each year spent attending traditional schooling. Whatever the case, don’t think of it as a race. We all have the same end goal of having a positive homeschooling experience, but we’ve all gone through different encounters leading up to this point.

Now, while this is a time of change, this is NOT meant to be a free-for-all, “do whatever you want to do” period of time that doesn’t include an education.

Some Benefits of Deschooling

Just as we’ve all had different experiences with traditional schooling, none of us will have the same adventure with homeschooling. Likewise, we’ll all benefit differently from deschooling. Some of the benefits of deschooling, though, could include:

  • opportunities for the kids to develop a natural love of learning
  • time for the kids to discover what & how they enjoy learning
  • increased quality family time
  • decreased stress for both parents and children
  • increased self-esteem and sense of self
  • time now available for learning functional life skills and exploring future careers
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What to do While Deschooling

Contrary to seemingly popular belief, deschooling is NOT a period of time devoid of educational activities. I mean, we’d all love a few months of vacation, but doing that would certainly be a disservice for the kids (and, as parents, ourselves!).

While taking the time to deschool, here are a few suggestions of things you could do:

  • read books together to rekindle a love of reading and storytelling (If you ask me, kids are never too old for a read aloud story)
  • the kids can keep track of their daily reading progress by using these free reading logs
  • visit local museums and educational attractions to encourage natural learning and possibly discover new (or forgotten) interests
  • be sure to check your museum memberships for reciprocal benefits!
  • create and plan meals together (cooking is an essential life skill!)
  • learn more about the different styles of homeschooling to see which might be the best fit for your family (fun fact: every child has a different learning style, so you may need/want to combine a few styles of homeschooling for the best fit)
  • find local homeschooling communities and make some homeschool friends!
  • play board games together (Have you heard of gameschooling?)
  • didja know that there are multiple ways to play memory games?!
  • decide if you’d like to homeschool year round or follow the traditional school calendar (spoiler alert – you can always change your mind!)

I definitely suggest making sure you are up-to-date on your state’s homeschooling laws and requirements. Laws vary by state and there may be various homeschooling options in your state. As a homeschooling parent, it is up to you to make sure you “dot all the ‘i’s and cross all the ‘t’s,” you know?

In addition, whenever I’m making a big life change, I always find it helpful to make a list of pros & cons, so I’m going to also suggest making a list of homeschooling pros & cons.

Deschooling: You Got This

One of my last pieces of advice for homeschooling may be the most important: enjoy it.

You no longer need to spend hours in the school car line. The kids no longer need to ask permission to use the bathroom (don’t even get me started on how absurd that rule is) or get a drink of water. No more last minute “I need a piece of poster board” requests because a forgotten assignment was remembered the night before it’s due date. No more notes sent home because you included a single Hershey’s Kiss candy in the lunchbox, alongside the pbj & sliced oranges, because “it’s not a healthy choice.” (oh wait, that’s an oddly specific example #happenedtome)

Enjoy it.

There will be moments of pure happiness and moments of sadness. It’s bound to happen. Deciding to homeschool can be a big change so there are bound to be big feelings, too.

You got this. The kids got this.

I truly hope that deciding to homeschool, and taking the time to deschool, is the start of a beautiful experience for your family.

If you have any questions or just need someone to chat with and bounce ideas off of, I’m here. Send me an email, or leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to help.

Until next time, stay safe and enjoy quality time with your family,

- Elizabeth (and the kids. and the husband. even the dog.)

Elizabeth Dukart is a proud Georgia-based born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, and mom of 2 human boys & 1 canine boy.

Created in 2021, Elizabeth owns and publishes That Homeschool Family: a free resource for homeschooling parents and beyond! A seasoned blogger, Elizabeth previously published a popular location-specific family resource blog, but decided to “Pivot!” her blogging focus after she started homeschooling her two boys in 2020. In addition to this blog, you can follow Elizabeth’s homeschooling and family adventures on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She can also be found in her Facebook Group: That Homeschool Family Hangout.

When she’s not busy taking over the world or homeschooling, Elizabeth can be found listening to music (especially The Beatles & Harry Styles!), being silly with her boys, watching movies with family, shopping, or traveling!

Have a question or want to work with Elizabeth? Send her an email!

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