117 Ideas and Activities for Deschooling: Enjoy A Smoother Transition to Homeschooling (Free Printable!)

by Love Your Homeschool

Deschooling: Ideas and Activities For A Smoother Transition To Homeschooling

Deschooling.  That little word can be hard for many new homeschoolers to understand.  It sounds scary.  Taking months off of school to do….nothing?!

Yet, taking the time to pause BEFORE starting homeschool can possibly be the most important part of the journey.  

I totally get the fear and confusion surrounding the idea of deschooling.  It is so far outside the school mindset that it feels scary and impossible to do.  You are worried about your children falling behind and not keeping up…forever.  You are anxious about what others would think if you didn’t do academics.  Then there are state regulations to keep up with and consider.  Lastly,  general, vague fear of “failing” at homeschooling can make it very easy to ignore deschooling in favor of starting right away.  

But if you are here, I assume you are considering.  Maybe you have already done a ton of research.  You are almost there, but pulling the trigger is another thing.  Maybe you started homeschool and you are now struggling.  You jumped in with both feet and it was fine for awhile.  Now, its a fight to get the kids to do their work.  Everyone is feeling stressed, you feel like you can’t do this.  You desperately need a do over.  Deschooling can help. 

Besides, what does a deschooling day look like anyways.  Do my children just sit around on screens all day??  Are we wasting time?  What do you do while deschooling if you can’t do school?  

In this article, we will touch on what deschooling is, how long to do it and why you should consider this first before jumping right into homeschool.  But mostly, we are going to talk about EXACTLY what you can do instead of school to get the most out of this valuable adjustment time.  

Ideas and Activities for Deschooling Free Printable

 

Deschooling doesn’t inherently mean you don’t do any school or nothing at all.  It is simply taking a break from imposed academics in order to live life, pursue hobbies, and bond as a family.  

 

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Free Deschooling Ideas and Activites Printable

 

What is Deschooling?

A break, a decompression, a time for recovery from a negative school experience, an easing into something new, a time of observation before jumping in…deschooling is a little bit of all these things.

Deschooling is simply the transition period in between leaving school and officially starting homeschool.

It can be for the child if they are leaving the confines of the school system and need time to heal or to experiment with how to love learning again. It can also be for the parent, to help shed misconceptions about how learning can happen so they can be more prepared to begin homeschooling with peace and knowledge on how to tailor an education for their child.  It gives us parents time to learn and tinker with a completely different form of education so we don’t fall into the trap of rushing into homeschool by just recreating the school environment that wasn’t working in the first place.  

I love this definition best…

 

Deschooling is the time it takes to adjust to learning at home without school. During this time, we come to learn who we are, what learning is for, how we can work together, and all that is possible when we learn in the world around us. Deschooling is a transition from relying on external measurements of success, to instead finding our own rhythm, meaning, and goals. Deschooling is the process of becoming unleashed from the habitual ideas of what education is, which gives us new tools which are more compatible and appropriate for learning at home with our children. Deschooling isn’t just for kids. It’s for adults too. It’s a family process. Deschooling means getting it out of our heads that in order to learn, we have to do things like the schools do it. Being deschooled means being free. ~ Tasha Takahasi Author of Deschooling Gently

 

What Are the Benefits of Deschooling?

  • Helps to let go of the “school mentality” for both the parent and child
  • Allows children to learn to be themselves without school or peer labels.  
  • Gain confidence in your ability to be in charge of your Childs education
  • Allows time to heal from negative school experiences
  • Allows parents to discover their Childs learning style
  • Allows time to focus on relationships and family bonding
  • Learn your Childs interests
  • Gives you time to research and prepare for homeschooling
  • Helps your child rediscover their natural curiosity and love of learning
  • Gives parents time to figure out what they like, what works for them and how to plan homeschool accordingly
  • Limits the recreation of school at home

 

Would My Family Benefit from Deschooling?

Not every family needs to deschool.  Some jump right into homeschool and do just fine.  Families who homeschool from the beginning might decide the children are fine but that they need to deschool.  Others, who have been homeschooling for years may choose a period of deschooling as a reset, if needed.    

If you are wondering if deschooling is right for you, ask yourself these questions…

  1. Are you homeschooling suddenly and unexpectedly?
  2. Do you need a reset in your homeschool?
  3. Did your child have a negative school experience?
  4. Do you feel overwhelmed with beginning homeschool and need more time to plan, prepare and research. 
  5. Are your children leaving public/private school.  
  6. Are you worried you don’t have the patience to homeschool?
  7. Do siblings need to reconnect?
  8. Are you feeling a lack of confidence in your ability to teach your kids?

If any of these apply to you, deschooling might be the perfect option before diving into homeschool.  

 

How Long Should I Deschool and How Do I Know When We Are Done?

 

You and your children make up the rules.  In fact, during deschooling, there are no SHOULDS, no RULES, no RESTRICTIONS.  You are allowed to do whatever you want.   You are free to learn in any way that excites your children, even if that looks NOTHING like “school”. 

The beauty of homeschooling and deschooling in particular is the freedom. You have now been released of any preconceived notions of what learning SHOULD look like, how it SHOULD happen and what you SHOULD do as a new homeschool parent/teacher.

Since you are in control now, you get to decide how long deschooling will last for your family. Maybe your child only needs a couple weeks before they are asking for academics once again. Maybe they will need longer. Maybe you need more time to sort out the transition.  Maybe you decide that this relaxed form of education is best for your child after all and you don’t return to a curriculum.  All of this is okay.

 

The general recommendation is to deschool one month for every year your child has attended school. So, if your child is in the 5th grade, they will need roughly 5 months of deschooling.  

 

However, every family and every child is different and what worked for one probably doesn’t work for you and your unique kids.  

You will know you are done when you are no longer worried they will fall behind, when you feel confidence in the choices you are making and when you are both feeling excited about learning.  

After all, it takes time to settle in and find out what works for your children and yourself.  

Its a process.  And a vague one.  

Its hard to not give you a concrete answer.  I want to give you a solid timeline.  But you family is unique and only you will be able to determine when the transition is over.  

After a while, you will come to the realization that your children are leading you.  By observing and watching and being in tune to them during deschooling, they will show you exactly what they need to learn best.  Now, you can turn around and use that information to design a homeschool for them.  This is when you know you are ready to move on. 

What To Do While Deschooling

While deschooling, it’s best to focus on learning activities that don’t feel like learning.  Deschooling activities can be compared to summer break activities.  In that, you will try to incorporate all those fun activities that summer time is known for, while also focusing on rest, bonding and relaxation.  

Here are a few general categories to incorporate in your transition.  None of these require a curriculum, a lesson plan or schedule of any kind.  Yet, these maximize learning in a way that doesn’t feel like learning at all.  

  • Field trips ~ Get out and explore!  Remember how field trips were the best days at school?  Visit art, history, regional and science museums.  Find a planetarium, fish hatchery, factory or mine tours, working farms, State or National park, historical markers and sites, battlefields,  Do lots and lots!
  • Unstructured Play ~ Give your child plenty of free time to be creative with their own activities.  Let them choose what to do.  This time must be completely child led in order to gain the benefits of play.  Do not be tempted to organize their play with fun activities.  Those don’t count.  Don’t be worried if they are out of practice and act like they don’t know how to play anymore.  If they have had years of schooling and years of schedules filled to the brim, they will need time to remember and relearn what to do with themselves when nobody is directing them.  Be patient, have faith in them and be their supporter during this time.  
  • Books ~ Start to fill your home with books of every kind.  Go to the library often and let your child browse and bring home anything they want.  Start a family read aloud and read one chapter a day.  Make books the cornerstone of your new homeschool.
  • Nature ~ If you can, make outside time an essential part of everyday.  Make backyard play time non-negotiable.  Buy clothes that allow them to play outside in the rain or cold.  Go on lots of walks, bike rides, hikes and explore the green spaces of your area.  Visit your local nature center and sign up for programs and classes.  Start identifying birds, trees, plants and flowers in your yard and on your hikes.  Nature time is science!
  • Life Skills ~ Now is a great time to revamp the chore chart and give your children more responsibility around the house.  Get them involved in things like cleaning, cooking, meal planning, outdoor chores and finances.  Teach them how to clean a bathroom properly and do their own laundry.  Give them time in the kitchen to bake, cook and prepare their own breakfast and lunches.  Let them help with dinner even when you don’t feel like you have the patience.  Not only do they need these important life skills to eventually be on their own (that’s the ultimate goal after all!), but it will help free you up from having to do it all.  Homeschooling is messy, mom is not a maid and the kids don’t get a free ride.  
  • Hobbies ~ Being stuck in school all week leaves little time for children to pursue their passions and explore their interests.  Give your children the benefit of free time to focus on what they love most, even if that is something you don’t love.  Maybe they are unsure of what their passions are right now.  Deschooling is a perfect time for exploration.  For hours of quiet and calm to think, ponder and just try.   If you can, sign them up for lessons during the day or find someone who can help them take their hobby to the next level.  Try new handicrafts. Leave wood whittling tools, sewing machine, yarn, loose parts, a camera, musical instruments, etc out where the kids can find and use them.  Help facilitate their hobby by finding new materials and books, if applicable.   
  • Just being together as a family ~ Have you bonded lately?  Did having your children in school all week hamper your ability spend quality time together as a family?  Do you struggle with patience if you are around your kids all day?  If your children were in school for several years, you will need extra time just to learn how to live together again and be around each other all the time.  Siblings will need time to reconnect too.  This process will probably continue long after you choose to stop deschooling. Take the time to slow down together.  Go on family walks and bike rides.  Start a huge family puzzle.  Play boardgames and watch movies together.  Start read alouds as a family and discuss the books after.  Sit down for meals more often and just talk.    Have great conversations.  Ask your children about their goals, dreams and future desires.  Focus on relationships.  
  • Start Thinking About Daily Routines and Rhythms  Ditch the idea of a schedule delegated to the half hour.  They are a recipe for burnout and failure.  Instead, now that you and your children are together all the time, start thinking about how your day naturally flows.  Who are the late and early risers?  When do your kids seem to have the most energy?  When do you have the most energy?  Knowing how your day flows will help you when you are ready to begin homeschooling.  If low-key enrichment activities naturally happened in the morning, you might consider formal academics in the morning and afternoons free for play, errands and outside lessons once homeschooling starts.   Read this for a beautiful example of a homeschool routine vs. a schedule.

 

110+ Ideas and Activities to Do While Deschooling

 

Around Town

    1. Find a volunteering opportunity
    2. Visit Grandparents
    3. Go on a family bike ride
    4. Be tourists in your own town
    5. Let kids plan the next field trip
    6. Let kids plan and pack a picnic lunch
    7. Attend a local concert
    8. Help a neighbor with lawnwork
    9. Take a one day road trip
    10. Take a free local class
    11. Try a new sport
    12. Go fishing
    13. Find lessons offered during the school day
    14. Visit nearby historical markers
    15. Feed the ducks
    16. Visit the closest state park
    17. Go garage sale-ing
    18. Explore new playgrounds
    19. Spend a day at the library
    20. Browse a local bookstore
    21. Go thrifting (give kids an allowance to find something educational)
    22. Visit historical sites or battlefields in your area
    23. Tour a university
    24. Attend library story time or event
    25. Visit a nature center (ask about classes to join)
    26. Go on a hike and journal about it later
    27. Visit a local lake or pond (take a field guide to help ID plants and animals)
    28. Go downtown for the day
    29. Visit a botanical garden
    30. Tour a local factory
    31. Visit a science center (ask about classes and programs to join)
    32. Spend an afternoon at a river/stream/creek
    33. Take music lessons
    34. Join a math club
    35. Go bowling
    36. Spend the day at the beach (take a field guide)
    37. Find new art, history or regional museums in your area
    38. Join a scouting organization
    39. Go camping at a local campsite
    40. Go art gallery hopping
    41. Tour a working farm
    42. Geocaching
    43. Take a nature walk and find animal tracks to follow
    44. Explore new restaurants and coffee shops
    45. Visit Mom/Dad at work
    46. Join a book club
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       At Home

        1. Take apart old electronics
        2. Learn a new handicraft
        3. Play boardgames
        4. Listen to an educational podcast
        5. Have a bonfire
        6. Play in the rain
        7. Make an outdoor fort
        8. Mad libs
        9. Practice Origami
        10. Bake something
        11. Take online art lessons
        12. Play solitaire
        13. Color in an adult coloring book
        14. Plan a garage sale
        15. Write handwritten letters to Elders
        16. Start a neighborhood business
        17. Host a sleepover
        18. Do a messy outdoor science experiment
        19. Start a kid blog
        20. Learn how to sell old toys on eBay
        21. Practice photography
        22. Hang a bird feeder and start identifying backyard birds
        23. Wash cars
        24. Watch documentaries
        25. Start a kid YouTube channel
        26. Practice random acts of kindness
        27. Read a long novel
        28. Start a relaxed unit study
        29. Learn a new language as a family
        30. Climb trees
        31. Learn how to watercolor
        32. Try finger knitting
        33. Identify all the trees/plants/flowers in your yard
        34. Start a daily journal
        35. Track the weather for a month
        36. Plan and start a garden together
        37. Paint rocks and hid them at local parks
        38. Raise butterflies in a butterfly house
        39. Plant a butterfly garden
        40. Plant a herb garden
        41. Do extreme dot-to-dots
        42. Train for a race as a family
        43. Update a room or rearrange furniture to make homeschooling easier
        44. Start a rock collection or any nature collection
        45. Let kids plan and make dinner
        46. Get backyard chickens
        47. Create a terrarium
        48. Make a fairy garden
        49. Build a huge lego city
        50. Raise tadpoles in an aquarium
        51. Play minecraft
        52. Learn to code with Tynker
        53. Map out your family tree on a wall
        54. Learn a new graphic design program
        55. Start a family read-aloud
        56. Make bug and animal shelters for your yard
        57. Build a birdhouse specific to your backyard birds
        58. Read to younger siblings
        59. Listen to an audiobook
        60. Build a snow fort
        61. Watch family home videos
        62. Make a family movie bucket list and then start watching
        63. Work on a huge family puzzle
        64. Go camping in the backyard and read nature myth stories
        65. Find a pen pal from another country
        66. Make a map of your neighborhood
        67. Unstructured play
        68. For Mom and Dad

          1. Read books by John Holt
          2. Read Gentle Deschooling by Tasha Takahasi
          3. Read books by John Gotto
           

           

To recap, deschooling is not about doing nothing.  Your children can reap the benefits of taking a break from structured activities while still maximizing learning.  You will gain knowledge by observing how your children learn best and using that to plan your homeschool.  It will allow you to spend precious time together as a family without pressure or expectations.   

Deschooling will allow you to transition to homeschooling peacefully, calmly and with confidence.  

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