Currently Deschooling-What the What?
To say our lives have changed a lot in the past two and a half months is an understatement. I went from running a part-time photography business with a child in private school and a child in public school to unschooling both of them and closing down my business! We are currently "deschooling" and since that concept was foreign to me when we started on our home schooling journey, I figured you might be scratching your head, too.
The Home School Mom website has a lot of great articles on deschooling if you want to dig a little deeper. This post is how our family is utilizing this important step in home schooling our children.
What Is Deschooling?
Deschooling is the time a child needs to decompress and destress after being in a traditional school setting before moving into a home schooled or unschooled environment. It's basically a transition period (for the kids and parents!).
The theory is that while deschooling, the child will eventually relax enough to get his/her natural curiosity for learning back. We are born to learn through playing and experiencing life. Public schools don't leave a lot of room for hands on experiences, questions, or play!
Most kids have been trained to wait and be told what they will be learning or doing next. They can't even use the bathroom without asking for permission. Deschooling is kind of like getting back to the baseline of our natural state. We are put on Earth to learn and grow and expand--something that comes naturally to us. But traditional schooling can stifle that flexibility and discourages kids to think for themselves.
There are obviously many fantastic teachers who can inspire and encourage kids to think for themselves, but they too are limited because of time constraints, testing deadlines, and curriculum requirements. We don't have those limitations.
Given the time and space to learn when and how they want, kids will be able to learn as much as they want and when they want about things that they are curious about--not about what we think they should know by a certain age.
Deschooling is great for us parents, too! Both my husband and I have caught ourselves worrying that they aren't doing anything or learning anything. It's so foreign to us that the kids aren't doing worksheets and taking quizzes. But that's what deschooling is all about. It's relaxing and unwinding from the stress of everything a formal education brings and letting your mind wander.
How Are We Deschooling?
Townes had deschooling down pat on day one LOL Limitless screen time and playing at the park? Easy! (For those wondering, we only allowed 'unlimited' screen time for a week or two and then went back to our summer schedule: no screens before 1pm and then 'recess' breaks throughout the rest of the day. There are pros and cons to limiting screen time, but for us, this system works really well.)
Kate, on the other hand, was really keyed up and stressed about getting her learning started. Luckily, her first week was during our school district's Fall Break and there was a pretty intense cooking class with a chef in a chef's kitchen for the entire week (half days).
I also found a knitting class and a sewing class that worked with our schedule. Once she could see that she was being given opportunities and wouldn't just be sleeping all day, she started to relax.
After that first week, she started to embrace deschooling. It was amazing for all of us. The hustle and bustle of catching the bus, homework, reading log, extracurricular activities was brought to a standstill.
You guys: I don't think I can ever go back to public school. For realsies. If Kate decided she wanted to have a formal school experience, we are open to the idea (especially high school), but I would not enjoy it! It's just so much more peaceful in our home now. #Peacefulparenting
Now that they've had a couple of months of freedom (with some classes thrown in here and there), we slowly started adding more planned activities (art class, parkour, dance). I kind of feel like I'm busier than ever, but that's because I'm used to being kid-less for 6 hours a day!
Our deschooling days have some structure with fun classes and appointments, but otherwise, we kind of wing it. Feel like heading to a museum? Awesome! How about the park and a picnic? Cool! Want to just play Lego here at the house in your PJs? Works for me! And if I need to run errands, they tag along. IKEA during the week when everyone else is in school or work? Actually enjoyable :)
How Long Should You Deschool?
The time your family decides to take to deschool is up to you. I think each child and situation is different. I can see that our kids are moving towards wanting more activity and experiences, so we've been trying to get some new things on the calendar (chess class, reptile fun, crafting).
Now that I'm wrapping up my photography business (should be done with editing this weekend's sessions in about a week), we have lots of ideas on what to do next. Ideas the kids have been tossing around:
- Kid's vlogging
- Making minecraft movies
- Starting an Etsy store (they have come up with t-shirts, art, jewelry...so definitely in the idea phase of this one ;)
- Creating custom Minecraft skins
The possibilities are endless. I'll write more on why we decided to unschool both kids (as opposed to doing more traditional homeschooling) in a future post.
For now, I need to get back to editing these last few sessions and the kids need to get back to Minecraft ;)