Hi I"m Deb Brown and live in St. Louis, MO. My son Nick is now home after struggling with many things the past few months .. so now I'm going to have to homeschool my teen. He's gone through 8grade at a Charter School & I'm hoping high school at home will be easier. Anyways joining group for tips etc.
... the initial stage where you, and likely your kids, get rid of schoolish thoughts about learning and life in general. If school was a negative experience for your kids, they will need time to recover from that as well. Give yourselves time to adjust to the freedom of no school routines (stay up late and sleep in!); the freedom of not being told what to do every minute of the day. Everyone has lots of time now to relax and unwind, to try new things. To discover their interests and rediscover the joy of learning!
For kids the typical guideline for deschooling is about 1 month for every year of school though in reality, most parents have a lot more deschooling to do than their kids. What should you and your kids do during this time? I think the best thing is to consider yourself on summer vacation, or an unending weekend (think Groundhog Day!) for at least few months. What would you and your kids be doing if it was July? Or wish you were doing? Then do that. <grin>
Enjoy your kids' interests with them - help them dig into them as deep as they'd like. Seeing them learn about things they are interested in is truly amazing to watch! Leave them to "veg" without the pressure of any expectations - and join them often to just hang out together. Pick up some interests of your own and share them if asked. Find some new things you're all interested in and pursue them together. Give them something new that you think they'd be interested in - not something you wish they would be interested in, but something you truly think they'd enjoy. Then don't be bitter or discouraged if they pass on it! <grin> Brainstorm together some ideas of things they'd like to do ... at home or out and about. Things like: watching movies, visiting the local attractions (science centre, museum, paintball, water park, conservation parks, mall, ice cream parlour, pizza joint, zoo, pioneer village etc), a weeklong Monopoly game, making playdoh, swimming, hiking, fishing, building a huge lego town, beating that video game, a 1000 piece puzzle. And so on. I bet you can come up with a great list unique to your family. Just have fun together!
And focus on really being with your kids ... not just in body, but in mind as well (meaning don't have part of your brain thinking about what you're going to make for dinner) or you may miss something really cool! If you like to write, maybe now is a great time to start a journal. Not a schoolish journal with subject dividers like reading, math, science - that will make it difficult for you to see all the learning that's happening. How about one that chronicles every day life in general? The things they've been doing, what their favourite activities are, what they chat about, interesting comments they've made and so on. When you read it over a few months you will likely see their personal learning patterns emerge; see how some interests led to others, how their activities are developing, and just their overall growth as a person.
And in your free time you can continue reading and learning about unschooling! And thinking critically. As Pooh says: "Think, think, think..." <grin> Remember, the parents are usually the ones with the most thinking and deschooling to do. You need to really think about your own school experiences - do you remember everything you were taught? Did you learn better when you were interested in the subject? Did the structure of school interfere with your learning? And think about learning in general - What is the real purpose of learning things? What does learning look like? Is it necessary to learn certain things at certain ages? How do you best like to learn? Is it ever "too late" to learn something?
This analysis will help you figure out what learning really means to you. You will come to realize that unschooling is not about just getting rid of school and leaving the kids to their own devices. It's about replacing school with natural learning. All that energy you used to use to get them up the morning, make their lunches, get them off to school, do their homework etc. you will now put to great use building relationships with them, helping them pursue interests, and bringing them together with interesting things in the world. And it's not about being "in their face", sometimes you'll find you use your energy to stay out of their way and watch learning blossom from a distance. It sounds complicated but truly, when you're living it you'll understand. Oh! That phrase reminds me of an article about "seeing" unschooling. Here's link if you like to read it: Unschooling: You'll See It When You Believe It by Sandra Dodd.
The day "deschooling ends" and "unschooling begins" won't be lit up in bright lights - there's no "magic moment". Life will just continue with the wonderful rhythm you've found, you'll see all the learning that's happening every day, and eventually you'll look back and realize "hey, I think we're unschooling!"
What Will They Do All Day?!
The short answer is - whatever they want!
If it seems to you like they are doing "nothing but watch TV", then join them! Spend time with them watching their favourite shows and chat about it ... not in a derogatory way like "how can you watch this crap?!", but in an interested way. Find out what they like about it, enjoy it with them and maybe pursue it further if they're interested - like a google or ebay search - you'd be amazed what you find! By joining them you will start to see what they enjoy about it and what they are learning. You may be very surprised.
And if your lament is that they do "nothing but play video games", the same advice applies to you. Watch them play, and definitely give it a try yourself - it's a lot harder than it looks! Marvel at all the things they are figuring out to progress in the game, and if they get stuck - help them! Search for guides and walkthroughs on the internet that can help them. If they aren't reading yet, you can read the game text so they can enjoy the full richness of the story and you can read the guides aloud to help them along. Maybe buy the published game guide - they usually have tons of screenshots and even non-readers can often follow along - not to mention how helpful the maps can be. You will love the moment your child runs up to you in another room to excitedly tell you they just leveled up or they beat that hard boss and you understand what they mean and can celebrate with them!
Most of all don't judge, discuss - take the time to join them often in their favourite activities. You will be rewarded many times over with joy, fun, and just plain amazement at what wonderful people your children are!
Other Online Articles About Deschooling
Here are some other articles from around the web that discuss deschooling:
Deschooling For Parents by Sandra Dodd is a humourous and insightful piece about getting rid of our schoolish thoughts. At the bottom there are also more links to deschooling articles.
Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers by Sandra Dodd is a helpful article for those beginning unschoolers who are wondering how they will see progress without schedules to follow and lists to check-off and to whom the advice of "just hang out with your kids" seems far-fetched and somewhat frightening!
Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life by Sandra Dodd is not about deschooling per se, but is about the paradigm shifts you are likely going through as you choose to start homeschooling. It was one of my first introductions to the idea of "joy" as a meaningful goal - even through our ups and downs the joy is always there and it is so powerful and uplifting - hence the name of my website!
Five Steps to Unschooling by Joyce Fetteroll again is not specifically about deschooling, but is a great article about the transition to unschooling. It details things you can be doing to help you progress through this exciting deschooling phase.
What exactly is deschooling?
Welcome to the group, might I suggest deschooling for both of you to make the transition smother.