What is de-schooling? Simply put, it’s taking the time to let go of the idea that the “school” way of doing things is the only way – and it’s often necessary for both the kids AND the parents!
Very often, kids come to homeschooling as a last resort, when it becomes obvious that the school system simply cannot meet their needs. By this time, they may have spent several frustrating years in a classroom where they are not challenged. They have little or no input into what they learn or how they study it. They may hate even the thought “school” and “learning” – words which have become synonymous with boredom. This attitude will carry over into their homeschooling, and prevent them from enjoying their full potential. This may show up in different ways. Some kids rebel against the lessons their parents prepare for them, others obediently follow Mom or Dad’s plan but never regain their “spark” – the joy in learning that is so characteristic of kids.
“De-schooling” is an adjustment time. Don’t worry about what the child is learning. Some parents give the children total freedom, others put some, preferably minimal, restrictions on their choices (no online games during the day, for example). If the children are given the freedom to choose their own activities, they gradually regain their enjoyment of learning. Sooner or later, they find something that will rekindle the spark, and the damage of that frustrating school experience begins to repair itself.
The amount of time needed for de-schooling varies greatly, but may be surprisingly long. Many parents recommend allowing a full year, and some whose kids have had particularly negative school experiences have been told by psychologists that it might take two or more years to fully recover. On the other hand, many kids quickly regain their enthusiasm for learning and settle down to interesting, challenging studies within a short time. The average is one month for every year in public school.
Parents, too, may need to de-school. Ever since we were children, we’ve been told that we must go to school to learn. And even after we make the difficult decision to pull our children out of school, we may find it hard to let go of the school methods. It can be frightening to trust your children to learn without worksheets, lesson plans, text books, and all the other trappings of school. I suggest first you take a nice vacation from all schoolwork. Rest, get to know one another again, do some fun things, enjoy the holidays. Read up on homeschooling, join a group and attend their field trips and park days, get to know the new folks and ask questions. You will find the right philosophy that works for your family, probably about the time your child comes up to you and ask if you can teach them about something they are wanting to learn.
For more info about de-schooling, check these links:
John Taylor Gatto’s essay on De-schooling
Sandra Dodd’s article on De-schooling
Some great advice and great games for your de-schooling time here at Redwood Games.
This site is for gifted children, but the information is just as valid for all children
Books and supplies can come along at any time, but they simply will not be effective if your child is not receptive.
For Texas groups and information, check out our Resource Directory above and then find the city nearest you. To find local support in other states, here’s a link to some e-mail lists, which will likely assist you in hooking up with someone near you and check’s Ann’s pages for your state if you are moving outside Texas.
“The mighty oak was once a little nut that stood its ground.” ~Unknown