There is this term in homeschooling that describes the process and time of taking your child out of the mainstream school system and starting to homeschool. As new people would join our homeschool group I would hear this term but honestly never gave it another thought…that is until two weeks ago when I realized that while I never had to deschool my kids because they have never been to school – I needed to be deschooled.
Homeschooling has never been an easy journey for me. I have a lot of my own interests and passions. Most of which take a lot of time and I found myself constantly struggling to find the balance between the perceived time it took to homeschool and doing my own thing.
Two weeks ago I was talking to a homeschool mom who had taken her son out of school in grade 7. She explained how lost she was when they first started and she said everyone kept saying “you need to deschool him” I shake my head in agreement and then she said “and someone said “you need to deschool him, but probably mostly yourself”… BIG inner pause for me. I shake my head in agreement while the wheels in my head are spinning. I realize in that moment that I, an 8yr homeschool mother – is not deschooled.
I decided this morning to start my deschooling. Of course not ever needing to deschool my own kids I had an idea what it meant but let’s face it, I wanted an ‘A’ on this process so just to be sure, I did a quick google search. I read this post and I got it – in a heart way. Find the learning, create learning opportunities, and for goodness sake, relax. (And no, I didn’t read all the wonderful links at the bottom of her post…because, come on people…I have things to do and can’t spend all day reading about deschooling!! *wink*)
The clock strikes 9 and I catch my heart beating a bit harder…’ugh I think to myself…it starts again…having to nag these kids to get their lessons done’. I stop. ‘Nope’ I say…’just because it’s 9 does not mean they have to start their schooling at 9…we have a whole day’. And so I start making a new protein bars recipe from my new cookbook and just watch to see what happens. My heart slows down. Possibly for the first time in 8 years I feel an inner peace I have never felt before. No rules. No set schedule. Just learning.
The first thing I notice is how quiet the house is. Normally I would have started my ‘loud talking’ to get things in gear first thing. And I’m sure you can imagine already what it looks and sounds like – I get doing something, I tell them to do something, no one is listening, I get distracted, I clue in, I talk louder…bad attitudes…and I’m sure you can connect the dots of the energy in the house. But this morning was quiet. A peaceful quiet. 2 of the girls sitting on the couch playing a game on the ipad – talking together quietly about what the next thing was to do for their game. Mr. 12yr old likely in his room doing something on his laptop. Normally I would be frustrated that once again they have chosen video games to fill their time but this morning I decided to watch and consider that this is learning too.
I eventually go up to see Mr. 12yr old and in fact he is playing a game. Some spaceship game where he has to make the ship…I really don’t know. “What are you doing?” I ask – and out comes all the specifications he’s made on his spaceship which really mean nothing to me because I’ve never seen him play this before but I ask a few more questions and ask if he plans to do his lesson before his swimming or after…”ah, I guess if I did it, it would be after…” I say “it’s not if you do it, it’s when you do it” he chuckles and says “ok, I’ll do it after”. I leave and realize how different the whole interaction felt. No eye rolling, no sighing, nothing negative and a few moments of connection.
I finish making my protein bars and am on to something else when Ms. 5yr old comes into the kitchen. All she wants to do is help. I don’t have anything she can do so I ask her if she wants to do dishes which of course she does – water and soap mean playtime! After a long time of silence I look over and see her taking a measuring cup full of water and filling a tablespoon which she then dumps in a cup. Over and over again. I know why she’s doing this. She so desperately wants to help us do the cooking and every time there is a liquid I say “mommy is going to do this one” which of course is a huge downer for her. As I watched her do this cup, spoon, cup thing over and over again it made me realize that under my old way of thinking there never would have been time to let her sit there and play in the water – never time to let her learn how to fill a tablespoon with liquid.
Everyone did their lessons, helped out with chores and most of the normal type stuff that happens in our day with the exception that today – there was peace.
Sharing this has made me realize that the fact is, I want to fit in. I want to fit in with my schooling friends and my homeschooling friends. I want to be able to present my schooling friends the confidence that they won’t be paying for my unemployed children because “see, we start bright and early like everyone else and are doing the same math as you and …blah blah blah…” and I want to impress my homeschool friends with all the ‘homeschooly’ things we are doing, cool outings, cool crafts, and…blah blah blah. The truth is that the belief that I’ll only “fit in” if it looks like everyone else is a deep rooted belief I got from school – hence my need to deschool. I have spent so much time trying to figure out how to be authentic yet still “fit in” to these two polar opposite groups that I have completely lost myself, made it really difficult for my children and was never really embracing the true meaning of homeschool.
As I have thought about my first day of deschooling I am grateful. And I am blessed because – one of the beautiful things about the word homeschool is ‘home’. Which means that no two homeschooling families will ever look the same because no two homes are the same. The point is not to fit in but to embrace the very best parts of ourselves and find ways to make the world a better place. Right now my ‘home’ aka my kids, are my world – and now that I’m on the path of deschooling I’m on the right path to make it a better place.
With Joyful Grace,