Friday, November 14, 2014

Parents Need to "Deschool" Too: Part One

new to homeschooling, deschooling, frustrated homeschooling parent failure
Recently I was talking to a young mother of young daughter. They had been homeschooling for less than a year and this mother, I'll call her Jenny, was feeling like a loser and like the worst homeschooling mother ever. She was discouraged, to say the least. 
My daughter is like my husband. She is ahead of the game in most every subject...reading at 3rd grade level or higher, and is doing at least 1st grade math. We have skipped over most of the stuff that she would be doing in a typical kindergarten class and are working out of workbooks, worksheets I have found and printed out, along with making up some of our own lessons. I just do not know what to do... Now it is a struggle to get her to finish getting ready in the mornings so we can start our school work. She does great when she finally decides to sit down and do the work. Usually almost all her work is perfect.

Every single homeschooling parent can appreciate Jenny's concerns because we have all been there, the struggle, the self doubt, the fear of failure, the fear that we're not good enough. When the kids are dragging their feet into lessons and when we sense the resistance just under the surface we, the homeschooling parent, begin to experience the fears that this may have been a terrible idea. After awhile we all feel that frustration of feeling that we have to fight our children to get them to the table.

We didn't want this kind of environment of dynamic in our home, yet here it is.

The surprise answer to this is that WE, 
the parents, might be the problem. 
And it's solvable.

Deschooling is a term often used in the homeschooling world that means to taking time off from formal lessons or academia at the beginning of the homeschooling change in order to restore a child to a healthier, happier, receptive person after having had negative experiences in traditional school. I'm sure that there are other/better/different definitions of the term somewhere. For the purpose of this post, though, I am referring to the need of we parents to deschool, to let go of what we see as learning, as acceptable lessons, as what we view as normal or necessary or schooling as we homeschool our children. 

For this post I'm going to use the term deschooling to mean the process of letting go of the rules of schooling and of accepting a wider, more generous, more accepting modes of what is learning. It is the process of liberating one's self to an environment in the home and family that is unique and inspiring and enlarging, regardless of the method, mode, or style.

The kids with my sister, Brenda
With some exceptions, most of us were traditionally-schooled kids. We know that when your work is done in the classroom you find quiet activities to keep you busy until the class time is over. We know that learning activities occur at the desk in silence. We know that only one person can talk at a time. We know that the teacher knows it all. We know that learning begins at 9am and ends at 3pm. We know that this structure is worshiped. We know that routine and organization are necessary in a classroom. We know that our papers need to be neat and tidy and on time. 

We know that there is a right way and a wrong way. We know that a body of people who know better than us ...somewhere... has decided what we should learn and how we should learn it. We know that others tell us when and how and what to learn. We know that our questions and daydreams and comments aren't welcome in the learning milieu. We know that someone else gives us the materials to learn. We know that all knowledge comes from someone else and is given to us in spoons full. We know that our lessons come out of our textbook and curriculum. We know that we need to read appropriate and pre-approved materials. We know that some reading is crap and other reading is edifying and wholesome. We know that tradition is key. We know that the point of view of our culture is the best...  

You get it, we, the parents, are living in our heads with the knowledge of what learning is supposed to look like...and homeschooling seldom looks like that. We worry about how others see us, if they judge us, what they think we should be doing... The worry catches up and pretty soon we are feeling like huge failures.

The good news is that there is a place to start to get yourself back on the road to wherever it is you were hoping to be when you decided to take that step into homeschooling your children.

It is a basic two step intervention:
  1. Say to yourself, I didn't meant to be schooling at home! That's not what we were planning on! And...
  2. Ask your child what they would rather be doing and do that!
So, relax, Jenny, and deschool awhile, and stay tuned because I have more to come!
Welcome to the wonderful world of homeschool.

Have you deschooled?
What was your experience like?

Other posts you might enjoy:
Are You One of the Good Homeschoolers?
Strategies and Stuff for Successful Homeschooling
Another Reason That I'm Glad I'm Not a Camel


  1. This is great advice for a new homeschooler and something I, myself learned the hard way. I had to "let go" of a lot of things that I thought best. :)

  2. YES We have. Regularly besides the first few months. This was one of the most important steps we found to do when it came to prepare for the transition from public school to homeschool.


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