by Dianne Brooks
A homeschooling mother asked on a forum:
"I have heard people say we should have a period of
"deschooling". Could someone please explain this? And
does everybody who pulls their children out of school
go through this "deschooling" phase?"
And here's Dianne's response...
"Deschooling" simply means taking some time off from formal academics when you begin homeschooling a child who has been in traditional school and has lost the desire to learn on his own. No, everyone doesn't do this. My children have always been homeschooled, so we have never gone through this but I have talked to quite a few people who have taken or are planning to take their children out of school. I usually advise them to take a period of "deschooling", especially if the child has a lot of negative attitudes about "school" or learning.
During the deschooling time, you would not push formal academics, realizing that the child has already had so much of that in such a concentrated form that he no longer enjoys learning. It sounds like this is exactly where your son is.
During the deschooling time the child doesn't necessarily not learn anything; but he may not realize he is learning because the learning would be centered primarily around something in which he has a great natural interest. For an older girl it might be homemaking skills, for an older boy it might be cars or gardening (please excuse my use of traditional roles here; I know they could be reversed). For a younger child it might be crafts or playing with toys that he doesn't realize are "educational" such as Legos or other creative or imagination building toys. [From Barb: See my article on "What Is Real Life Learning?" for lots more ideas! Link below.]
It would probably include quite a bit of time when you read to him (not him reading unless he specifically wants to) books that he enjoys in order to spark or re-spark in him an interest in and love for books and reading. Enjoying books is one of the basic ingredients in successful homeschooling so you really want him to love them.
There are different degrees of "deschooling" and the degree to which you adhere should be an individual decision depending on the needs of your child. What works for one won't necessarily work as well for another child.
Formal academics would be reintroduced later and over a period of time (unless you were going to go the unschooling route permanently), with you deciding when and how much based on your son's need and readiness. This is a fairly general description of deschooling; I hope it has clarified things a little, rather than confusing you more.
(Just for the record, I am not what might be typically understood as being an "unschooler," although the definition of that word is pretty broad. I hold to the philosophy of being relaxed and not pushing a child more than a little here and there but I do push occasionally and do make my children study some things that they don't really want to.)