The term “deschooling” I hear it a lot. I was advised to do it. I read about it. It all seemed to make sense.
Children have lost their natural interest and spark for learning after it has been worn down and rubbed out of them by school time tables, pre set subjects and teachers goals. All children have the ability and passion for learning. It’s what they do! They have to learn to eat, to grab objects, to roll over, to crawl, to walk, to talk….. All this before they are placed into a school system.
At what point does learning stop happening naturally and start being something that children feel pressured and resentful about? ….. right about when they start getting tested on the abilities and compared to national averages is when I reckon!
So I read about how it’s best to have a period of deschooling, to allow us as a family to get out of that curriculum based routine and to enable the kids to discover what really interests them. Not what a class room of other people expect to interest them.
I am told that the best thing to do for home ed kids is allow them to get bored. That when they are bored is when the love of learning becomes apparent and they find themselves. I read that the local authority has to respect a families right to take time to deschool and that this can take anytime up to a year or so! Given my children’s experiences of school I expected to be in it for the long haul. I didn’t go out and buy work books and they are not made to spend their days reading and writing. It’s far more interesting to enjoy the outdoors, learn about nature, focus on life skills like cooking, sewing etc….
Its a bonus that along the way my daughter has discovered such an interest in wartime Europe, it has been entirely of her own choice to work on a project and this has built on her knowledge of geography, reading, writing and research skills and it was completely directed by her. I am also lucky that she has made the decision to study towards exams, but she will be able to pick subjects that interest her without any pressure from her peers.
My son is not quite ready yet. He has his interests but his attention span is not great. He loves maths and numbers and enjoys short bursts of each activity but it’s great to see him socialising and making friends and having the confidence that just a few months ago he did not have.
The whole idea of deschooling makes perfect sense to me and had seemed to work so well. Although not for as long as I had anticipated. So why does it seem to be such an issue that people really struggle to get their heads round? Why the constant questions about exams, lessons and curriculum?
Why the constant expectation that because it’s a “school day” they should be doing work? My children have been out after dark watching bats and learning about the sunset and nocturnal animals….. so why should we be up and sat at a table by 9 am? ! My children became engrossed in learning about the roman colosseum and did not finish building their own put of clay until nearly 5 PM, they did not have to pack up and leave it unfinished because the clock turned 3. If they are restless and want to go run around in a park or visit a museum or climb a tree, there is no reason why they can’t. In the same way that at 7 o’clock on a Sunday evening they were on the computer learning Spanish.
I was shown a local paper, a woman has been charged for letting her child continuously play truant. I get this shown to me as if to make some sort of point, my children are not playing truant! They have been de registered, there’s a difference!
The topic of socialisation comes up frequently as well. Well my children socialise. Perhaps not with the same group of 30 children their own age every day, but when in their whole adult life would that really be the case anyway?
They are able to have discussions with a wide variety of people of different ages from all different walks of life. Children of all ages play together, home ed groups meet up and plan classes and courses and trips, which make us busier now than ever when they were at school.
But they are allowed to get bored. Being bored is a good thing….. not in a “I want to play the play station” kind of bored, I allow the play station to go on, I allow movies, computer time etc…. but when all that is done and the “I’m bored” chants start up, that is when the learning can really begin! And no one said it had to be boring!
So please, if you see me with my children out and about don’t assume they are truanting or I am being lazy because they should be sat at a table with a work book open… we don’t work that way and we don’t have to work that way! They will still get qualifications but they will be mixed with experience and fun along the way, and best of all I get to watch their progress personally! I just need to learn myself, how to step back and breathe. I need to deschool myself as I can see that my children learn best by touching and doing not just by sitting and reading.
This is our road and my children are leading the way.