By Iram Shaukat
My entire life, up until I started our homeschooling journey, I’ve only experienced one way of schooling – the traditional school system. In fact, my schooling story started at the very young age of three years old.
Many years of formal school plus many years of university meant that I was only used to the system. Next thing you know, life went full circle and I was a parent with children in a traditional school setting.
My idea of education was study hard. Period. The only classroom I ever knew was one full of students, desks, chalkboards, loud bells, and exams.
My deschooling story
When it comes to deschooling, most people think about the children, however my children, like many, transitioned pretty well.
When mama needs deschooling
Children are flexible and know how to adjust in new situations. If you’ve read my WHY to homeschooling, you’d know that when we first started, my kids were in fourth grade, second grade, and kindergarten.
We passed the decision making stage, and jumped right into homeschooling…
But there was my mistake.
Life before homeschooling
To give you a bit of an understanding, this is how my life looked prior to homeschooling –
I was a stay at home mother. After a rushed morning routine, I would come back to an empty house and take a nap, and sometimes I’d hop over to a friends for chai.
As you can see, this all had nothing to do with children, therefore it’s difficult to adjust from an empty house to a loud, boisterous house!
I felt like a failure
After a few months of homeschooling, I began having negative thoughts about myself. I felt like a failure.
But it wasn’t true.
I just made one mistake.
I was ruining our homeschool
I didn’t realize at first that I was the problem and that I was ruining our homeschool. I treated my children like students and myself like a teacher.
I was anxious, guilty, and making myself and the children miserable. Our homeschool was running to the ground…until I finally realized something.
I finally realized my mistake –
I was treating our home like a school.
I cracked the code!
I finally realized that I needed to change my perception, and so I did.
The definition of deschooling is as follows –
Deschooling, a term rooted in the beliefs of Ivan Illich, is the shift from a traditional, government-influenced institution of schooling to a less-restricted method of learning that focuses on being educated by one’s natural curiosities.Wikipedia
In common terms, deschooling is the adjustment period a child goes through when leaving school and beginning homeschooling.
But here’s the thing, it’s not just for children!
6 Deschooling Tips for Mamas
Below are deschooling tips for you mama, the one who probably needs deschooling the most! 😉
Tip 1 – Trust The Lord
Firstly, we must trust Allah SWT with our homeschooling, just as we must trust Allah SWT in all circumstances.
Tip 2 – Pray
We must also pray every step of the way.
Tip 3 – Un-learn what you have learned
“Unlearn what you have learned” means that some of the knowledge about education you “know to be true” may not be true, and could be blocking your ability to homeschool well.
You may need to see education in a different light. Below are some books that have helped me with this. –
To start off with, read books about how children learn through living and life.
I’ve found the following books to be most helpful at that time. –
Tip 4 – Don’t treat your home like a classroom
You may need to change your perspective of what home and school means. Understand that we all learn through living and that learning doesn’t need to look like what we went through when we were in school.
Home is home, not a classroom.
“What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.”John Holt
Tip 5 – Transition out of old routines
The first thing I needed to do when starting the deschooling process was transition myself out of old routines. Remember, this was more for me because my kids transitioned quickly and easily.
I’m going to admit, this was difficult for me. I used to sleep during the day, but not anymore, because the kiddos are still there in the morning. 😊
A change to mama’s routine
I decided to sleep during the night 😊 and reserve our days for living a beautiful homeschooling life.
Try setting your bedtime earlier by about 15 minutes every week so that you can be up earlier and ready to roll.
Your kids will already be used to waking early so this tip is more for you, mama.
Tip 6 – Find support
I understand what you are going through and I am here for you. We are here for you mama!
Don’t forget, you need a local tribe too! Read this if you want more tips on how to find your local tribe of like-minded support.
9 tips to help your child adapt to homeschooling
If your child is the one who is struggling or needs help navigating the transition, here are some suggestions that may help –
Tip 1 – Take it slow
This is a big change for everyone and the deschooling process may take a few weeks to about a few months!
Hold up on the formal lessons, mama! Be patient.
What you can do until then
That doesn’t mean you have to sit around and do nothing. Try this instead-
- Take daily walks.
- Read aloud A LOT.
- So you might as well walk to the library!
Tip 2 – Be Flexible
Homeschooling almost never looks the way you might have imagined. In fact, each day might be very unique.
You may need to try new things for a while, to get an idea as to what your child needs.
Tip 3 – Open the doors of communication
Chat with your child. Try to understand what matters most to him.
Tip 4 – Know your reason for homeschooling
You’ve obviously already decided to homeschool, but did you write your homeschool “why” down? I suggest discussing your homeschool “why” as a family and writing it down together.
Your homeschool “why” might be one item or it might be a list of things that led you to take this journey.
Trust me, you will need to see it often because when things get rough, and they will, it’s the perfect time to look at your list and affirm why you made this choice to begin with.
Tip 5 – Allow your child to help drive the change
It’s best give your child as much ownership as possible. Always try to sit down as a family often, and allow your child to express himself to the fullest.
Pay attention to what your child is saying. Stop looking at your phone and thinking about house chores and all of your other problems. That can wait. 🙂
You want your child to feel comfortable enough to express what is most important for him to have as a part of his homeschool experience.
It’s best to help him differentiate this new adventure from his previous experience.
Perhaps your older child wants to create his own homeschool schedule. You should allow this, as long as he completes his work.
Tip 6 – Make comfort a priority
If your child is having issues adjusting, understand that change is hard. We can all reduce stress with certain comfort measures.
Do what works to help your child rest and relax often.
Tip 7 – Offer safe space for your child’s feelings
Allow your child to talk about their fears, worries, and/or frustrations. They might be missing friends at school and need to talk about that.
Listen attentively to allow them to process their feelings and don’t jump into trying to find a solution.
Tip 8 – Keep your sense of humor
Loosen up and laugh a little bit, mama! In fact, this is one way to relieve yourself of the stress you might be under at any point, especially if your kids are involved.
They’ll see you laugh and it will be contagious. Then everyone will loosen up, God Willing.
Tip 9 – Acknowledge all kinds of progress
Just as you used to celebrate your child’s correct answer or honor roll in school, you should celebrate your child’s every positive step.
Does she show more curiosity? Celebrate it!
Does he have a greater willingness to ask questions? That’s worth celebrating, too!
You are the expert!
But keep in mind that you know your child better than anyone else.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should you deschool?
As usual, it depends on your family’s circumstance. If your child was in traditional school for most of their life, the adjustment period may take a lot longer than a really young child.
It’s okay to set a limitation to your deschooling time. You run the show, mama. 🙂
What are the benefits of deschooling?
Here are just a few!
- The more I allowed my children to explore and even be “bored”, the more their natural interests became apparent. For example, I discovered how much my children loved experiments and art.
- Deschooling allows your entire family to reform and strengthen relationships that may have been strained, or even damaged, by the daily demands of fitting into the school system.
Is deschooling and unschooling the same thing?
No. Unschooling is a philosophy of learning outside of the norm that often allows the child to choose how and what he or she wants to learn; while deschooling is the process of decompressing from the traditional methods of education.
The Last Thing You Need to Know About Deschooling
- Deschooling is a blessing that helps you discover yourselves and the beauty of learning and living.
- Remember, the first year is typically the hardest. It’ll get better, mama!
- New to homeschooling? Read our Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling for Muslim Families.
- Want to know why I homeschool? Read all about my reason for homeschooling.