The following post is a chapter from my book “7 Steps To Beginning Your Unschooling Journey”. If you enjoy the chapter and feel like reading more, you can buy the book on Amazon.
How Do I Start Unschooling?
Deschooling with Ice cream:
Often, after only a few weeks of choosing unschooling parents can feel like life has been turned upside down and chaos rules the day. It may be helpful to know that children need to go through a period of Deschooling. For some children this takes a few months, for others, it may take over a year depending on how long they have been in a traditional learning system. It is not unusual for a child to spend many hours of the day in front of the TV or playing computer games or reading alone in their room. Each child is different and will have they own way of deschooling. This process can be rather unsettling for parents, who may wonder if their child is ever going to leave the house again! Children need time to “Chill out”, to debunk and to unlearn the way they have experienced education up to now. They are like a computer being stripped of all its old programs to be able to reboot, refreshed and renewed.
Some children can feel lost when they first start unschooling. They are not used to being allowed to make their own choices, to follow their own body rhythms, to explore their own interests. All this freedom might be a rather daunting prospect for them and they may not even believe the parent is actually going to follow through with this new way of living and learning. So, while your child is deschooling do not panic. Give them lots of space to find themselves, hang out together (if they want you to). In fact, our fourteen-year-old daughter hangs out in her room for pretty much most of the day, even after many years of unschooling. This is where she likes to be. Her room is her art studio, sewing room, dance studio and cinema. Our daughter will say to people who ask if she gets bored at home:
“I like my own company and being left alone so I can allow my imagination to fly”.
Some suggested activities for deschooling as a family are:
- Watch movies in the middle of the day.
- Stay in your PJ’s ALL day.
- Go to the library and get the whole series of your child’s favorite book (I dare you to go in your PJ’s!).
- Take a trip to the beach (And feel smug that everyone else is in school.)
- Find new video games and play them with your child.
- And eat ice cream while doing all of the above.
As a parent, you will also need time to Deschool. Take it easy on yourself, be patient even if things look crazy and out of control, trust in yourself and your children. Experiencing times of feeling things are not working out, that your child is turning into a couch potato, the house looks like a college dormitory and you are losing the plot is NORMAL. You need a bit of chaos (maybe a lot) to shake things up a bit and to break free from all the old patterns you have been stuck in.
Things will settle down, life will return to some kind of order or maybe, you will just get used to having no order and you will be free to enjoy the exciting journey of unschooling with your family.