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The Importance of Deschooling Before Homeschooling: A Crucial Transition for Success

At the recent UEFA Fair, I had the pleasure of speaking with many enthusiastic parents who were eager to begin their homeschooling journey. While their excitement was palpable, a common theme emerged: uncertainty about where to start. My advice to them was clear—begin with deschooling. This crucial step can make the transition from traditional schooling to homeschooling smoother and more effective.

 Why Deschooling Matters

1. Adjusting to a New Rhythm: Traditional schooling often follows a strict schedule and regimented structure, which can be very different from the flexible and personalized approach of homeschooling. Deschooling helps families adjust to a new daily rhythm that works for them.

2. Breaking Away from Traditional Mindsets: Both children and parents need time to shed the preconceived notions about education that are often ingrained by traditional schooling. This period allows them to embrace a more holistic view of learning.

3. Reconnecting as a Family: Deschooling provides an opportunity to strengthen family bonds. Parents and children can spend quality time together, exploring interests and passions without the pressure of formal education.

4. Identifying Learning Styles: Every child learns differently. Deschooling helps parents observe and understand their child's unique learning style, which can inform the homeschooling approach they ultimately choose.

 A True Story: A Day in the Life of Deschooling

Donna Goff, a seasoned homeschooler and the founder of Mentoring Our Own, shares her insights on deschooling. She describes how her family embraced this period to build a strong foundation for their homeschooling journey. Here’s a snapshot of what their typical deschooling day looked like:

Family Devotions: They began their day with family devotions, focusing on discerning right from wrong and nurturing their hearts.

Mealtime Traditions: Meals were a time to nourish not just bodies but also hearts and relationships.

Read-Aloud Sessions: Donna read to her children, sparking their imaginations and fostering a love for stories.

Life Skills and Family Work: They worked together on household tasks, from meal prep to gardening, instilling a sense of responsibility and teamwork.

Leisure and Outdoor Time: The family valued time spent outdoors and unstructured leisure time, allowing children to explore and be creative without screens.

How to Deschool: Practical Tips

1. Take a Break from Formal Education: Start by taking a complete break from formal education. This doesn't mean a vacation, but rather a shift from structured learning to a more relaxed and natural exploration of interests.

2. Engage in Interest-Led Activities: Encourage your children to pursue hobbies and activities they are passionate about. This could be anything from gardening and cooking to reading and crafting.

3. Spend Time Outdoors: Nature is a fantastic teacher. Spend time outdoors exploring parks, hiking trails, or even your backyard. Observation and interaction with the natural world can spark curiosity and learning.

4. Foster Open Conversations: Use this time to talk with your children about their likes, dislikes, and learning experiences. Open dialogues help in understanding their needs and interests better.

5. Read Together: Reading is a great way to learn and bond. Choose a variety of books, including fiction, non-fiction, and educational materials that cater to your child’s interests.

 Knowing When You're Ready to Homeschool

Deschooling duration varies for each family, typically lasting a month for each year the child spent in traditional school. You’ll know you’re ready to begin homeschooling when:

- Your Child Shows Renewed Interest in Learning: If your child begins to naturally gravitate towards learning activities and asks questions, it’s a good sign they are ready.

- You Understand Your Child’s Learning Style: When you have a clear sense of how your child learns best—be it visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or a mix—you’re better prepared to start homeschooling.

- Family Routine Stabilizes: Once your family settles into a new, comfortable daily routine that balances learning, play, and rest, you’re likely ready to transition to more structured homeschooling.

Deschooling is a vital step in the homeschooling journey. It provides the necessary transition period to adjust, rediscover, and rekindle the love for learning in a relaxed and supportive environment. Embrace this time, and you’ll lay a strong foundation for a successful and enriching homeschooling experience.


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