So, my post on the importance of deschooling went mini-viral… but then people had questions. Most notably: how do you know when you’re done…
When you’re “done”. Hmmmm… That’s a good question. You will WANT to be done before you ARE done and that uncomfortableness is the barrier we are trying to break through. Deschooling is truly for ALL of you, but truly–the majority of the change is going to be with the parent in most cases.
You’ll be done when you stop worrying about when you will be done. 🙂
One major thing that will change for you is that you are no longer worried that they’re falling behind or not learning enough. When you stop wondering if you’re ruining their lives, you’re almost done. I mean, these might always be fleeting thoughts for some people. Geesh, even I will occasionally have a 3-minute panic that I’ve set my kid up to sleep on my couch for the rest of his life; but they’re not going to drive you into a panic that makes you TRULY start reconsidering homeschooling. I’m not talking about that “I’m trying to convince myself” kind of thing–but you truly are okay with not breaking out the curricula or being out of step with the schools. A comment from a friend isn’t going to send you spinning and the idea of your child’s education being entirely in your hands doesn’t immediately make you bite your nails.
You’ll change. You’ll see yourself shift from basing your decisions off of the rest of the world’s model. When they’re doing nothing at all, you’ll be more INTERESTED in what they are enjoying about that moment than you will be CONCERNED about what they’re NOT doing.
As for the kids, they will be done when they no longer shun anything deemed educational. When they can look at a trip to the zoo or the library or a museum as something enjoyable rather than “tolerable education”. Even if they become willing, but begrudgingly–they’re not done.
Admittedly, if you’re going on a year and still having a problem, you should look deeper at what’s going on. What did this child experience or what feelings to they hold about themselves and learning that has them still–after truly being deschooled and having all learning expectations and conversations go out the window (unless the conversation is initiated by the child)–makes them avoid anything educational like the plague. Do they associate it with something traumatic from their schooled time? Did they inadvertently develop some very deep and unhealthy ideas about themselves or their abilities? It would be time to initiate that conversation, but not from a “because you need to start learning” perspective. If that’s your take, YOU need more deschooling and your child’s lack of motivation is just part and parcel of that. But if you’re greater concern is your child’s happiness and their thoughts right now–you’re ready. And realize that you may need outside help for this one.
Everything will change in the absence of the confines of an education model. It may even be a scary time–for all of you–because there are no established expectations. We have been conditioned to simply meet the expectations and goals dictated to us. Suddenly, you have a lot more control over your destiny and that can be really scary for people who have never driven a boat. For both parents and children, that can produce a great deal of anxiety. A good set of routines and rhythms to your days can really help (I write about that in this blog post)
Whatever you do, don’t discourage their more ridiculous dreams. Encourage them–knowing that they will use those to motivate themselves to learn things that apply elsewhere; and hey–they’re kids: they will change their minds at some point. I am on career 3 and I’m not 50 yet. So there’s no harm in taking their goals and working them in the meantime. If that means they want to be a Minecraft programmer, so be it. That’s a lot of math right there.😉
It’s over when you are all so relaxed that the idea of learning is welcomed–possibly sought out. So, you will look and feel relaxed before you are THAT relaxed. The estimate is 1 month for every year of traditional schooling. Yes–that’s right. And if you went from school to school-at-home, you can add that school-at-home time. That’s hard for a lot of parents. But in the end, it gives back far more than it takes out of you!