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You’ve made the crazy life-changing decision to pull your kids from public schools to start homeschooling. You’re scared, you’re excited and mostly, you’re overwhelmed. You know you can do it. You’ve made the first step.
But now what?
Do you jump right into your curriculum or should you take some time off and ease into your new situation?
Most seasoned homeschoolers recommend a deschooling period.
They suggest deschooling for one month for each year your child attended school. If you pull your child from public school after 3rd grade, you would deschool for 3 months. But finding activities for deschooling your kids can feel overwhelming.
Deschooling allows families to unlearn the idea of what school should be and embrace what it can be. No longer does learning strictly take place behind a desk for 8 hours a day but instead we begin to learn anywhere in the world for 24 hours! Kids will no longer memorize facts to pass a test but instead learn because they’re genuinely interested. Kids won’t stress over sitting still in hard chairs for hours a day but instead learn through movement and hands on activities. It’s an exciting time that will take some getting used to.
This gives kids a time to rest, recoup and recover from the stress and pressures from public school. They need time to fully comprehend that no one will be setting rigid schedules, forcing them to raise their hands before speaking or to sit quietly behind a desk for hours a day. You are trying to “unlearn” the school system and discover the natural love for learning that all children are born with.
More often than not, parents need to deschool the most. They have had many more years of living with a public school mindset. They must learn to let go of grades, hours and comparisons. Not only do we need to relearn basically everything we have been taught about education, we also need to find our own thoughts and beliefs about schooling. By deschooling, you avoid the chance of experiencing burnout early on in your homeschool journey.
What will we do all day?
This is a common question for parents who are already under public scrutiny for their recent decision. To ensure you don’t sit all day and stare at blank walls, we’ve rounded up 5 easy activities for deschooling that are both fun and educational.
Activities for Deschooling Your Kids
Visit aquariums, parks, zoos, hiking trails, museums and anywhere else your heart desires. Don’t make the trip about education, though. The point of visiting the world around you is to show you and your child that learning doesn’t have to take place behind a desk. By visiting fun places, your child will learn to love exploring, while learning all about his surrounds.
If you want your child to learn while doing something he loves, technology is your best bet. Whether your kids are video game lovers, YouTube addicts or Netflix junkies, allow them to do what they want. You may not realize it, but they are learning something from doing what they enjoy. My kids learn more from Netflix than their textbooks every single day! (Thank you Wild Kratts!) Find out what interests your kids and watch YouTube videos on that topic for a few hours. Not only will they have a chance to unwind and find their stride, you’ll learn more about your kids’ interests and hobbies.
Get to know your kids. Discuss their dreams, goals and fears. Talk to them like they are real people, not just your child. This will earn their trust and gain you bonus points. Have them talk to their grandparents, neighbors, taxi cab driver or anyone else you meet. Allow your child to learn from other people. Ask Grandpa to tell you about his time in the military, ask the postman about why he loves his job or ask the librarian what her favorite book was as a child. By talking with others, you will gain perspective and knowledge through others’ eyes.
And play hard. Play is the one thing that we have stripped from our children. By over-filling schedules, micromanaging their time and pushing kids too far, we’ve somehow lost sight of the importance of simply playing. Kids gain so much from just allowing their minds to wander, using their imaginations and experiencing hands on learning. Your Lego lover might be sharpening his architecture skills. Your dirt loving kiddo might be a future archaeologist. Kids who are YouTube addicts may just be the next Kid President. You never know what the future holds so allow your child to fill their own time doing things they love.
If you’re just coming from the school system, it’s hard to not be overwhelmed and exhausted. There’s no doubt the kids aren’t the only ones who need some down time to recover. Allow time to do nothing at all. Just relax and enjoy being together. Don’t stress, worry or fret over your new venture. Relax and trust yourself. Your child may relax by drawing, lounging around the house or playing on the iPad. However they choose to unwind, allow them to do so as much as necessary. It is vital to their overstimulated body and minds that they have a chance to rest.
Deschooling doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. It simply means you begin to understand the idea that life and learning are not separate events and shouldn’t be treated as so. A relaxed schedule will help your kid understand that life is changing dramatically and they will no longer follow a strict schedule set by others but will instead be allowed to pursue their love of learning on their own.