We’ve been home schooling for close to 2 years now. And it is only recently (past 6 months) that I feel we can say we’ve gone in, through and out the end of that deschooling period. Deschooling being the time the kids need to get out of the rhythm and system of school and adapt to a new way of life, of home education, or in our case - unschooling. Deschooling came (in our case) with many tumbles!
I felt like it was one of those things that when you are in the process of deschooling you are never quite sure whether it has been ‘done’ yet. Often I would ask myself ‘are they deschooled yet? or is this just the way it is going to be forever…?’ I would then send myself into a panic!.
I can now confidently say, that the kids are deschooled. Whoop! Our eldest in particular has been through massive changed. About 6 months ago it was like a light switched and he really started taking control of what he wants to do and be. It’s so incredibly amazing to see and be part of the change - to see his confidence grow, to be engaged in what he is doing and most importantly he is one happy boy!
But here is the thing - I had prepared myself mentally for deschooling the kids, but I didn’t consider how much of an impact it would have on me (and my husband).
For them to deschool, we had to do the same too. Here are some notes from what we have discovered:
1 - We spent several months doing things that we thought would be good and we thought we would enjoy, but in the end it just made things worse.
2 - We let go massively with rules, then pulled in the reigns a bit when the kids indicated that they wanted support to achieve the change they wanted.
3 - We all choose what we want to do on a daily basis, but it’s not a free for all. Just like my work needs to fit around my kids stuff, the kids stuff has to fit around everyone elses needs. We normally talk about what is happening/agreeable on a daily and weekly perspective.
4 - We’ve achieved that ‘enlightenment’ stage where we know that kids can moderate themselves and not spend all day in front of a screen. We don’t see screen time as a bad thing, we believe there just needs to be some balance. Given the support and opportunities they make great things and decisions!
5 - We have all learned to listen to each other’s needs better. I feel this has been a massive change from the parent’s perspective - I feel that as a society adults really aren’t very good at listening to their kids. We have proper conversations and talk about things. If anyone says no, it means no and we should all respect and try to understand the reasoning. If anyone needs any help to do something then we use it as an opportunity to talk about the needs and the impact it may or may not have on all of us.
6 - We don’t really say ‘no’ to the kids anymore. We might say it in a roundabout way at times, but it always seems to involve a discussion and their agreement. For example, they eat what they like. So rather than say no to ‘unhealthy food’ we give them options of better food. They usually go for the ‘better food’.
7 - We live as equals. We are increasingly conscious that kids are great imitators. They are often a reflection of how the people in their environment behave - siblings, parents, family and friends. We try to lead by example. The kids are more than happy to point out when they think something is unfair. I am likewise happy to do the same thing in their direction.
8 - We are all allowed to make mistakes. We are all getting better forgiving each other when we haven’t ‘behaved in an ideal way’.
9 - We all have needs that aren’t always equal.
10 - We achieve more when we work as a team. The kids have really picked up on this. For example, they see how much it helps me or my husband when they help out with chores in the house. The result is that it frees up our time and puts us in a better mood to help them do stuff they want.
11 - Us, the parents, have stopped worrying or comparing them to anyone else. They are who they are. They are learning constantly, without a curriculum. They are doing pretty awesome, we don’t need any tests to prove that. They say we are awesome too, sometimes 😉
12 - We focus only on the things we really want to do and forget everything else. There is only so much time in the day and not really any room for stressing out to get cram in as much as we can.
One of the best things, for me personally, is that I feel like I have become a much better mother. I am happy we are on this journey, but really wish we had started it earlier!