The What, When, Where, Why, and How of Deschooling

Deschooling 101

When I started homeschooling, I thought I had it all figured out. Being a bit prideful of my “success” in my own school days, I thought I knew it all about education.

I was all that and a bag of chips.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about homeschooling.

I mean, sure. I had never had any personal experience with homeschooling. In fact, it was a pretty new concept to me when we began, but still. 

I used to be gifted. Academics were my thing.

The first few times I heard the term “deschooling,” I may have blown it off. To be honest, I can’t even say that I did enough research to come across it in the first place, and believe me, I paid for it in a major burnout event that caused me to send my kids back to school.

Thankfully, I came to my senses after having a go at homeschooling for the second time, and I realized how crucial deschooling is to a new homeschooler.

I’m well aware that the whole deschooling process is an enigma to some, so today I’m going to share with you…

The What, When, Where, Why, and How of Deschooling

What is deschooling?

Deschooling is simply living every single day for an extended period of time as if school didn’t exist. Picture what you do on a typical Saturday or over summer vacation. Unless your kids go to summer school, that’s what deschooling looks like.

When should someone deschool?

While deschooling is usually recommended for those whose children are transitioning from a traditional school setting to a homeschool setting, this process can be beneficial for anyone new to home education or for a family who is already homeschooling and desires to relax their methods a bit.

Where should we deschool?

Anywhere you’d like! Home is the first place that comes to mind, but it doesn’t stop there. Take advantage of this newfound freedom and explore. Some of these destinations can include:

  • parks
  • playgrounds
  • the library
  • museums
  • plays
  • the beach
  • the lake
  • anywhere your family enjoys!

Why should we deschool?

Aaah, now we’re getting to the good stuff.

I think it’s safe to assume that a good portion of homeschooling parents have spent a majority of their formative years in a brick and mortar school setting, so when most people think of “homeschooling” they think of something more akin to “schoolhoming.”

  • textbooks
  • rows of desks
  • ringing bells
  • homework
  • tests
  • report cards
  • tightly run schedules

These are all things most often associated with “school,” and rightly so. This does give an adequate picture of what compulsory education looks like.

But education doesn’t have to look like that.

The public education system as we know it has only been around for around 150 years. Before that time, most children did learn at home- and believe me, it looked nothing like what our schools look like today.

Homeschool, not school at home

Taking a look at the state of our school system today, modern schooling methods just aren’t working, are they? You see, kids don’t learn as well from textbooks, power points, lectures, and standardized tests as they do from life.

Instead of learning about amphibians in a science book, kids are better off learning about them at the creek. Instead of learning how to count money on a worksheet, children better learn this skill by going to the store, counting their real money, and buying something.

In addition to this, children who have a say in what they will learn about will retain infinitely more than those forced to learn things that have absolutely no meaning to them. Kids who are given the opportunity to follow their interests learn and thrive.

Homeschooling is learning in the real world.

This is why deschooling is essential to a peaceful start to a homeschooling journey.

Since we’ve all been conditioned to believe that learning can only work one way, it can be very, very hard for both parents and children to realize that their homeschool does not have to be a recreation of school.

Deschooling allows both adults and kids the chance to explore life without any expectations, and to eventually see how natural the learning process really is.

How do we deschool?

I did touch on that already, but here’s a little more detail.

Let your kids do what they want to do for a while. (The length of time spent deschooling is entirely up to the individual family. Some do weeks; others do months.) This may mean they’re watching TV and playing games, playing outside, drawing, reading, and sometimes just lying around.

Let them. Your children need this downtime in order to find themselves- especially if they’ve been in public school.

As for you, the parents. Be an example. Follow your interests. Read up on homeschooling, learning styles, homeschooling methods, and education, in general. Allow yourself to escape the confines of the “learning has to look like this…” mentality.

And whatever you do, don’t try to categorize what your kids are doing during this time into “subjects.” Believe me, it will turn into a downward spiral of expecting everything they do to be educational in a “schoolish way.”

Speaking from experience here.

I’m going to leave you with this video I made a few months ago on the deschooling process. It gives an extremely thorough explanation of what it actually looks like.

Did you ever go through the deschooling process? What did it look like for you?

If you’re looking for an encouraging homeschooling community, join my FB group!

Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

9 thoughts on “The What, When, Where, Why, and How of Deschooling”

  1. When we deschooled, we took lots of nature walks, visited the library, read lots of storybooks together, snuggled up, played with younger neighbors and just enjoyed being home together. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We are currently in the deschooling process. It definitely takes time! I didn’t think it would take as much time as it has, but it has! And it’s not just the kids! I never realized how much I needed to deschool until we started deschooling.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am soaking up as much information as I can., especially on Deschooling. I have been wanting to try a new way for a very long time. I am in a lot of local homeschool groups online and advocate for laws to protect the homeschoolers. Most of my friends and family have started of have been homeschooling. Traditional school has left my whole family in a stressful mess. The school “system” isn’t natural. My husband is still in the school box mentality so that will be some work but I know we can work through this. We need to change our mindset and discover what learning for our family looks like and love it. The only time I look forward to is summer when we’re not in school. School holiday breaks are ok but I know the impending doom will be there soon once again. I am excited and emotional on starting this journey. I cried a few times watching your video. I honestly think this journey will be healing for our family. Thanks for posting these videos, it’s greatly appreciated.


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