View Full Version : How Long to Deschool?

08-05-2011, 06:45 PM
We are starting our first year of HS...in 6th grade (I know it took me some time which I am bummed about now). Anyway, some post I have read say to deschool one month for ever year the child was in PS; this seems a bit excessive to me given that would be 6 months, if I started counting with kindergarten. We have been out of PS since before Memorial Day weekend and I had intended to start HS after Labor Day, but am wondering if this is too soon and if it is too soon how long should I give her? Let me add that as much as I want to be an unschooler (my Type A personality probably will not allow it and my DD does need some structure) I do intend to have a relaxed approach to HS with a lot of outdoor hands on stuff as long as the weather permits here in Colorado.

Stella M
08-05-2011, 07:11 PM
You do need a good bit of time to deschool, as it's not just a break from school, but a chance to separate oneself out from the structures and expectations imposed by school.

Having said that, I'm not sure if I could commit to 6 months of complete, absolute deschooling :) I think it's OK to have a loose structure to your days for a while, especially if your daughter has input into how that looks.

Maybe you could decide on what is non-negotiable for you - maybe for you that's daily reading and maths. Then you could help dd brainstorm some projects ( not necessarily academic ) she would like to do, skills she would like to learn, places she'd like to go etc to be the main focus of your deschooling time.

It's often helpful for maternal anxiety if you learn a new skill or start a new project yourself at this time. It helps take your focus off what the child 'should' be doing and it models a style of self-directed learning your child can copy.

Accidental Homeschooler
08-05-2011, 07:19 PM
We took our daughter out of ps after two trimesters of seventh grade. I had a hard time with the one month for each year also. I tried to start right in and it was apparent immediately that it was not going to work. I just backed off and let her do what she wanted except that I asked her to finish her math text from school so we could start Algebra in the fall. She did end up choosing to do some of her other subjects, but mostly she spent a couple months teaching herself how to make balloon animals (she is very good!). Then she printed business cards and started getting jobs working at kids birthday parties. She also started cooking a lot (things like pheasant in pastry --unbelievably delicious and baklava). And she is a reader so she was doing that and even begrudgingly agreed to read a couple books I suggested (though she would never admit to me that she liked them). We are hitting her seventh month in three weeks (and that is counting the summer) and she is like a different kid. I am not anticipating any problems starting back up at the end of this month. I think for my dd she just needed to be in control and I gave it to her and when I did that she started showing some iniative. I had moments of freaking out thinking "Great, I took her out of school so she could learn to twist balloons." But really, I think it was a good thing to go slow. I wish I would have had more faith in that at the beginning but it is really hard, that worry that they will get behind.

08-05-2011, 07:26 PM
Okay, so, I haven't dealt with kids coming out of school to homeschool, but I have dealt many, many times with kids coming out of public school into a tiny (30 kids) little school many times. Those experiences are part of why I think deschooling is so important. Six months is just *nothing* to get a kid to have a total attitude turnaround about what education should be and how they should approach it. Kids we only had a chance to teach for a year barely had a real change. Two years was better. Three was best. Of course, you can't just totally let go and deschool for that long. So, I think part of deschooling is that, in addition to taking an extended "break" in the traditional way (though maybe with some structure!), you also have to see it as an ongoing process over the course of a couple of years.

Stella M
08-05-2011, 07:59 PM
Accidental Homeschooler, that's a great story!

08-06-2011, 12:02 AM
I too have felt that a month per year of school (8 and 5 months off in our case) seemed like too much!! On the other hand, I REALLY WANT this homeschooling experience to be absolutely amazing for them! I want to give them the time they need, but don't even really know what to "DO" during this time?? I don't think laying around watching TV and playing in the computer would be a positive transition period, but don't know how to "structure" it either...

08-06-2011, 12:27 AM
Can you just have a really pared down daily checklist? Like, free reading, educational game, educational movie, math review, etc....? Or a weekly checklist like, field trip, book discussion, educational film, x pages of math... Or whatever you feel like would work. Or I've heard of people who just turn the screens off except for educational purposes during "school" hours. If they can't get on a screen, that shakes things up for most kids - especially middle and high school age. I think part of it is that you're not going to know how to schedule it - you spend part of the time getting a feel for it and figuring out what works - because that will help you both when it's time to get more serious about academics.

08-06-2011, 11:00 AM
thanks for the ideas!!

08-06-2011, 12:46 PM
Thank you for all of the information! We do have an hour per day/per year requirement in Colorado. I am really not concerned about us meeting it (4 hrs per day) because there is always something to learn in everyday life...has anyone run into problems with deschooling and not meeting requirements?

Accidental Homeschooler
08-06-2011, 01:11 PM
Accidental Homeschooler, that's a great story!

Thanks, and it has been awesome to see dd come out of her shell.

I was looking at some unit study information (intellego) and thinking that might not be a bad way to start if you let your child choose the one they want to do.

08-06-2011, 07:31 PM
I could have never done the one month for every year of PS because we'd be in the same boat - 6 mos. I think it's different for every kid and every family. I started by jumping right in and it worked ok but I could see we needed to be less structured and get out of the mentality that everything needed to be in little compartments of time and regimented. I started letting my DD lead me more into what she wanted to do for the day or week for that matter and went with it as long as we were accomplishing something. Pretty early on I decided - no school on Friday and that seemed to really get her motivated to get through any "work". Sometimes our Friday turned into another day instead but we always took one day off regardless. She was excited to link things together like L/A and Social Studies and Geography with Math. For us anyway that proved to be how we moved forward. We both loved studying Chinese culture and then going to Chinatown.

Just go with what feels right. As parents we make mistakes - at least I do - and so far nothing has harmed my DD to the point of breaking her!