What is deschooling?

What does it really mean to deschool?

You have decided on the alternative method of education now how do you phase out the traditional schools? Even if your child has never attended school or kindergarten, You may need to deschool yourself first.

As a product of the system we educators need to deschool too.

Remember times in your life (other than at school) when you have learnt something. Reflect on what worked for you and what didn’t. I remember learning to knit with my grandmother. She was kind and I loved being at her house. The atmosphere was warm and I imagine we were sharing a pot of tea at the time. Those are happy memories. Have you taught yourself things? Learning to garden by trial and error has been another one for me. Watching talks like this one by Sir Ken Robinson.

Sir Ken Robinson

Do schools kill creativity?

always resets my ‘how we learn’ button and reminds me that learning happens everywhere, all the time and often, outside of schools.

Now would be a good time to

formulate your own philosophy and goals for home education

 How about a home school mission statement? Or if that’s too cheesy, a statement of intent, a promise, written down and placed somewhere safe. Here is an example:

 My intent is to guide you in learning. I will help you to discover the skills you need to live a full and interesting life, to communicate with others, to question, to research and to find answers to your questions.

In the deschooling process it may be as simple as,

I will give you time to let go of the stress of your experience and discover new ways to learn.

Seeing your child’s education as multidimensional, rather than something that happens at a particular place is the first step.

School teaches us to do as we are told and to ask only the questions that are ‘allowed’. This can really impact a child’s natural ability to question.

“Far too many schools today are … guilty of not allowing our children to think for themselves – Maria Montssori

Every child will deschool in a different way.

When you remove the schedule and the stress and the forced work, you make room for the child you once knew to come back. Making time for outings, or plenty of time in if that’s what they prefer is essential. Allow the child to lead in how they want to spend their time. For my first daughter this was reading most of the day for some weeks. She experienced a lot of stress and needed time to unravel. In that process she read a lot, drew, played with her sister and literally loved not having to be at school.

Deschooling can take weeks, months or even years, depending on how long the child has been at school and what they have experienced

It can take time, but you have time now. Keep your mission in mind as you begin the journey. Here are our suggestions for some great ways to spend your time while you deschool.

Deschooling ideas

Time in nature – walks, building cubbies, fishing, hiking, camping, beach combing, snorkelling, swimming

Music – concerts, playing, listening to all different types of music, dancing

Library visits – Bring books home, read books there, take your time to explore and relax

Local parks – visit parks you’ve never been to and favorites you always wished you had more time for. Bonus, there won’t be tons of people midday.

Join your local home education group – do a search for groups in your area. Many areas have a Facebook group to aid communication.

Art – get creative, revamp your craft supplies, paint, draw, sculpt

For the non-crafty – play with ropes in the backyard or bring them to a park or garden.

 Have a camp fire and cook something.

Garden projects – create a bird feeder, worm tube, compost bin, collect seeds, plant a vegetable garden.

Documentaries – watch a good nature doco

Go bird watching – take some paper and pencils for sketching if the feeling takes you.

Musicals – watch a musical, or go to see your local high school production. It’s much cheaper than the pros.

Dance – turn up the volume and dance like no one is watching

History – Living history is the best!  Visit towns or historic places

Zoo or animal park – There are many wonderful zoo membership programs that include a magazine or special programs and discounts for members. Go to the zoo for a particular animal feeding time that you really want to see. Bring your journal or drawing book for some sketching too. Bring your phone or tablet for creating movies or photos too.

Build a cubby- (inside or outside)

Knit, crochet – Youtube has plenty of tutorials if you don’t know how, learn together!

Baking – make cakes, scones, cookies, biscuits, pancakes. Get everyone involved in mixing, melting and measuring.

Find a good read aloud –  _Little house series, Harry Potter series, The far away tree series, The Wishing Chair series, Famous Five , Secret Seven, Charlotte’s Web, Goodnight Mr Tom, Carries War, No job for a girl, Mao’s last dancer, Brother band, Alex rider.

Poetry morning/afternoon tea – create your own or read from a book along with your baked delights.

 Read- a good book and a cosy place to sit can absorb hours.

Walk – get outside regardless of the weather.

Local mapping – draw a map or your street, a park

Create a treasure map – create an authentic scrunched up and crinkled treasure map with skull and cross bones. This could be real or just for fun, ending in a treasure hunt.

Create a journal – encourage your child to journal

Write a letter – write a letter and hope to get one back

Write an email – set up an email address and get writing

Water play – colored water (a few drops of food die), toy animals, giant ice blocks (a plastic bag filled with water and frozen the day before)

The ideas are endless, just let your imagination run wild. The key is to have fun and let your children lead with their interests. Seeing you take time for your own interests and creativity is also a great way to inspire learning.

Don’t get bogged down with making it ‘educational’

The children will get different things out of an experience than you may think. If you are too focused on the ‘outcome’ there is a good chance you will kill the joy. Just go with the flow and if things don’t go as you planned, look at the positives, and look at what they DID get out of it.

Happy Deschooling!


If you are in Australia, have a look at https://home-ed.vic.edu.au/information/legal/ for legal requirements in your state.

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