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Coming Home - Step 2: Deschooling

Part 1 of this Article "Coming Home" can be found here.

If you are withdrawing your child from school chances are that school hasn’t been going well. Even if that’s not the case, there have been some big changes in your family that have prompted the decision to bring your kids home and start home education.

Deschooling, a term first coined by Ivan Illich, is the word we use to describe the transition period between leaving school and adjusting to learning at home.

When your kids go to school, you - and they - adapt to being apart all day. When they come home, you need to re-learn how to be together all day.

Children who attend school are used to lessons being presented in a particular way at a particular time in a particular setting, and at home all that is different. School students are in large groups for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Home educated students spend time alone, in small groups and in larger groups on an individual schedule. Life is very different for the whole family, so it makes sense that it will take some time to find your rhythm.

Step one in deschooling is recognising that it will take some time for you and your young person to break free from the routines and expectations you have been used to in school.

How much time will this phase take? Well that really depends on a whole range of factors, including how distressed your child is at the time of school withdrawal, how flexible your family is, and maybe even how long your child has been at school. It could be weeks, months, or even a year. I know for us, it took the better part of a year.

So, I can already hear you asking - can you afford not to teach your child for a whole year??

Deschooling doesn’t mean that no learning takes place. It just means that it takes place in different ways and at a different pace. The control of the learning is given back to the child, and they are encouraged to explore things they are interested in.

Step 2 in deschooling is engaging your young person in spontaneous learning and exploration. This is a period of reconnection. For us, that took the form of me reading to my child daily, exploring museums, art galleries, zoo’s and anything else we could find. We participated in various therapies, and had enough time to complete the ‘homework’ associated with that. We did lots of cooking, and participated in music groups and gymnastics.

It will look different for you. Consider asking your child what they are interested in, and sharing the things you are interested in. Look for places in your local area to explore. Play games. Ride bikes. The learning will come, so naturally that your child might not even notice it. And gradually you will find your home schooling rhythm.

More information on home-ed styles, approaches and philosophies can be found here:

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