Wednesday, 29 June 2016

What is Deschooling?

What is Deschooling?

Deschooling is the idea and process of taking school, and all it's rules, ideals and structures and letting it go. Even if the you are thinking of doing structured education, this time is vital to adjust, and release the stress and mentality of school.
It can take a few weeks, but equally it can take much longer, because it is not just the kids that need to adjust, but it is primarily the parents.
You would hardly expect someone who has been in a traumatic relationship to just leave it and be fine. More over you would find that if you recreated that sort of relationship soon after that the familiarity would make it something your child accepts, but it damages the parent-child bond and adds to, rather than heal the child from the trauma.

School as trauma.

Most Home Educating families who have been in the school system leave because of trauma, from bullying to the school trying to force a child into a different shape than they are. The mental, physical and emotional damage from school can be deep. Ask any adult who has been bullied.
Psychologically school is a building where education is given to them. Learning is something done to them, not something they do. Failure to understand or comply leads to punishment and how good you are at test often determines whether a teacher will even bother trying. Children are told time and time again what they can and can't do, what they are and are not good at, when they can pee, when they can eat, when they can speak. It makes for a adult v's child mentality.

Deschooling is the learning to be, without bells, and standing in lines, or sitting in rows. It is about the child finding out who they are under the uniform, under who they have been told they are.
What if they are not "thick" or "lazy"? What if they are not a "freak"? What if they are not "difficult"? What if they just needed the opportunity to learn to do something themselves (the only way something truly sticks)?
Deschooling is about the parent letting go (some of us need waaay more time at this than others). It is about the parent learning that education looks very different than school. That all that six hours a day from 9 until 3 is about schooling, not education. It doesn't just happen while sat at a table writing, or you standing over them telling them to "do it like this". That they are far more likely to copy you than you realise. If you want manners, be polite. If you want them to read, read and have books around. You want them curious and keen? Be curious.

But how long?

Well that depends on many factors. Some say a week for every year in school, some say a month. In reality healing and letting go of school will in the long run fix more problems, and in fact most Home Educating families who have issues about getting their kids to "knuckle down" or has kids "refusing the work" will be asked "did you deschool?"
Taking a week off, or a holiday simply isn't enough time for the parent to really let go or for the child to heal.

I can see I made the mistake myself. I didn't deschool at all. I pushed hard and had 6 hours a day at home sat at a table, when I started. (Yes I am an idiot.)
It was only when I got too sick I had to let go. A process that took about 2 years. It fundamentally healed my relationship with my daughter, and allowed her to learn things about herself and the world I never imagined. When we take a break from the idea that learning and school are the same and are very different, that education happens everywhere, all the time we can feel better that we are doing "enough". That play is powerful, important and necessary for healthy children then you are ready to begin. Children heal quickly it is only when we give them the space and time to do so, we can also heal ourselves.

Home education is far too important to take seriously.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Oranges growing on apple trees

Oranges growing on apple trees

Growing kids who are different

Even the best of us sometimes slip into the ideas of what our children "should" be. Yet the greatest gift a parent can give is let the child be what they are. Whether they are a scientist, or a poet, a dancer perhaps or a builder.
Maybe they don't know what they are yet. That's fine too.
Sometimes we resist how the child is because we know that different is hard and difficult. We want to make our orange an apple, or an apple an orange.
We want our children to be better than us and in so doing we make a gap between what is and what we want and it creates a distance. A divide. It terrifies me how often I see parents plan their children's whole lives, even after University.
These are the subjects you will study. These are the qualifications you will have. This is where you will go to University. This is the career you will have.

It normally goes one of two ways either the child is constant disappointment, totally unable to achieve the level or skill they want them to have, feeling they are less and less worthy. The second is that they constantly achieve yet never feel truly happy where they are. There is a distance, a shadow in the self, the person they are covered in the person they have to be in order to be "right" and "good".
The child loses all right to be themselves. All right to express their needs and desires. It erases them from their own life, making them apathetic (why they couldn't possibly get it right on their own) or angry (everything is pointless).
It is a version of the "stage-mom". The one who primps and pimps, one who pushes and pushes.

The more I explore my Home Education journey the more I feel it is an exercise in lovingly letting go. Hug, cuddle, cwtch, talk, laugh but let go of the out come. Trust the process. Any time I try and "make" something work, or push too hard it gets all snagged up.
The best moments come when I relax and just be. Be there, listen, don't take over and don't give up.

If it isn't fun, don't do it.

Or if it isn't fun, make it. It is easy to get bogged down with the "stuff" of life and not appreciate how wonderful it all is. It is important that you as an adult do things that you enjoy and that make you happy. You can do it alone or with your children. All that matters is that you do. Having fun and enjoying your life is important. That doesn't mean you don't have to scrub the loo's, it mean you might sing or promise yourself some "you time" afterwards. Allow yourself your failures and your bad days, and let it go.

Allow yourself that child-like wonder and let your kids grow.

Home education is far too important to be taken seriously.