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.