Deschooling and School Recovery
What is deschooling?
Deschooling is a concept developed by educator and author, Ivan Illich, which calls for an end to traditional schooling. Deschooling encourages people to think outside of the box and find their own education paths through learning experiences rather than relying on formal schooling
The term “deschooling” commonly refers to the transitional process between traditional education and homeschooling where children engage in natural learning. During this time academic demands are not imposed on the child.
A break from “school”
“Deschooling” is an unschooling concept (a method of education that involves little or no adult-dictated academic demands or formal curriculum); however, it is commonly used to describe a period of school recovery immediately after withdrawing a child from institutionalized school. Many families who ultimately opt for structured homeschooling still choose to take a break from schooling before implementing a homeschooling schedule and/or curriculum.
The importance of deschooling/break period for ND children.
Many ND children are coming home for education after a traumatic period of struggling in school. Academic demands without support may have caused shame/low self-esteem, anxiety, demand avoidance, and chronic dysregulation. It is critical to provide a safe space at home to honor the recovery process. Letting your child have choice in their day shows that you accept them and their interests.
Difficult school experiences can also result in 2nd-hand trauma to caregivers who are often finishing a long fight advocating for their child’s academic rights. A break period can help you as a parent recover and transition from the role of advocate to educator.
Children can explore and share their interests while you observe how they learn and what engages them.
Time to explore and set up sensory and schedule accommodations to make learning at home comfortable.
Time for the parent-educator to explore teaching and learning structures they feel most comfortable with.
How long do I take a break?
There is no right answer to this. It varies by child, family, time spent in school, and extent of school trauma. Some families choose to unschool indefinitely. Others use eclectic mixtures of interest-based and academic learning. Some families feel a comprehension curriculum best fits their needs.
When considering implementing more structure after a break period, it’s important to introduce it gradually to observe your child’s responses. Consent-based structured academics takes time to build.