The thing about deschooling (or what some people describe as “taking a year off”) is it’s a time to decompress from school, not to escape from problems. It’s a time to dig into life and live life to its fullest, figure out who your kids are, who you are, and what in the heck education even means for all of you. It’s a time to learn how to learn, how to see outside the box and how to let go of all those ‘should’s, ‘what if’s and comparisons to other people. It’s a time to be fully alive and explore all the possibilities of who your child can be.
So, during that “year off”, it’s a year off of school, and year ON learning. It doesn’t even have to be a year, it could be less. It might only be a few months. You’ll know when it’s over, because you’ll be able to say with confidence, “this is how my kids learn best, this is what they like and we know how to get info”.
During that time, definitely do things that are “fun”, but make your main goal to do lots of different things. Focus on your children’s interests as much as you can. And if your children aren’t sure what they like (or even if they are), go out and do random things like tours, going to the library, nature walks, hiking, volunteering to clean the beach, working in a food pantry, selling things at a local craft fair, geocaching, lapbooking, taking a cross country drive, camping… you get the idea.
Sure, deschooling might be “fun”, but it’s important and incredibly rich fun. It’s fun that means something. That gives you a sense of who you are as a family.
And spend a lot of time talking. Talk and talk and talk…. and part of talking is listening. So listen to your kids and get to know them better. Learn to trust them. See how you can learn math and reading and everything else through a rich and powerful life, not just in books (although, books are GREAT too, don’t toss your books, especially if the kids thrive from them.)
With all the information out there, and people explaining the “best” way to do thing (even this post for example), it’s hard to know who to believe and who to trust. The only way to know is to look inside YOU. Listen and read and then decide for yourself what’s right and what you should be doing. With the legalities of homeschooling for example, figure out who the source is of information. Is it someone who has affiliation with only one school? Is it someone who has experience helping many parents in many different kinds of situations? Is it someone who listens to your needs or is pushing their own agenda?
Concerning what to actually do during your day while deschooling (or homeschooling) – again, listen to what people say and then decide for yourself if it sounds right. Make your life the best it can be by taking the best part of what you learn from outside sources and applying them only when they make your life better, or fit in with whatever you’ve already found to be successful.
Part of knowing if things sound right is to make sure you know who YOU are and what education and success mean to you and your family. What’s the point of learning? What’s the point of knowing things? What kinds of things are most important? Are things like authenticity, understanding, critical thinking and creativity more important? Or concrete things like knowing facts and figures? What does it mean to be a human being? What does it take to be confident, and secure?
These are questions only you can answer. There is no answer-key. And that is a huge part of what homeschooling is all about. It’s about knowing how to answer your own questions and not needing to wait for someone to define your life for you. Knowing who you are, and your kids knowing who they are, without having someone else make that decision for them.
There is indeed a lot of information out there and it can be confusing. But that’s because homeschooling does not come in a box. There are no convenient rules and directions because homeschooling is life. Life is confusing and completely open-ended.
So, deschooling might be a confusing time, and it might seem a little scary because it feels like doing “nothing”. But in order to get past that initial barrier and through to the other side where homeschooling is natural, slips in with your life rhythm and purpose, and is comfortable, it’s important to face these fears and find out if the real meaning of education is what we’ve been taught it is, or something else entirely.