Homeschool Life, Planning

Deschooling Preschool

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Deschooling preschool, what it is and why you may need to do it.

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When we first decided to homeschool, we had many concerns: curriculum, teaching them to read, money, time, socialization. One thing we foolishly forgot was getting Harley on board.

Harley went to preschool when she was 3 and 4 so she was used to a school setting. The summer following her preschool years, she was a little confused about what homeschooling was and she wasn’t sold on the idea. She is a creature of habit and breaking her of her routine is something she doesn’t handle well.

Looking back on it over five years later, I now realize she needed to go through the process of deschooling. Deschooling is the adjustment period a child goes through when leaving a familiar school setting and beginning homeschooling. And yes even preschoolers need this!

Why Deschooling is Important

Deschooling an important stage to go through before starting homeschooling because it involves undo-ing all the behaviors, routines, culture, and attitudes that come from being in school everyday. Or partial days in the case of preschool.

Preschool is very structured, it has to be with 20 four-year olds running around. Kids are always given something to do. And generally there is always an adult around showing them what to do and how to do it. There is no boredom in preschool which is actually a negative thing because boredom eventually leads to creativity.

For your family to get the full benefits of child-led learning, you need to help your child decompress from the vigorous and structured school culture. They need to start developing their own ideas about their education. What they want to learn about, what books they want to read, what activities do they want to try, and what places they want to visit.

For older children, deschooling also helps kids separate the notion of grade level work and move towards simply doing the work or the work they are interested in.

Deschooling will also helps kids see ALL children as their peers rather than kids who are just the same age.

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Deschooling Preschool

Because I didn’t understand the principle of deschooling, my husband and I spent a lot of time just trying to convince her that homeschool was awesome! But that isn’t something a 5 year old’s brain understands. Even finding out one of her favorite people, Pioneer Woman, homeschools her kids, didn’t sell her on homeschooling. The poor thing was so confused.

That summer I found a local homeschool group and the first outing was a “Not-back-to-school” party, which took place on the first day of school for public school kids. Both of my kids had a wonderful time but Harley still wasn’t totally sold. She didn’t quite understand when she would see the rest of the kids again. “Are we coming back tomorrow?”

What can you do to help your child deschool

The length of time for deschooling varies for each child. Some families spend just a few months while others may need a whole year. Because more than likely, the kids aren’t “missing” school, but the routine and social environment.

The main thing you need to do with your kids is go and have fun together! Play, read, go to the park, go to the library, find other homeschoolers, do fun sensory and messy play activities at home. The structure and routine will come later. Focus on fun and connection in the beginning.

Once you are ready, develop a routine for your homeschool so your family has a set schedule. Remember kids enjoy the structure and rules of schools because it is predictable! Don’t think of your routine as hard and fast rules, but rather a predictability that will help your kids during the day.

Click here for tips for developing a routine!

During the deschooling period try not to take things personally. You know homeschooling is the right choice for your family, and understand it will take some time to adjust. Figure out what it is they “miss” about school. For Harley it was getting out of the house, doing things, and seeing other people.

It didn’t take long for Harley to be all in with homeschooling. She figured out that we would be seeing other kids and would make new friends.

She saw all the new freedom we have. We were able to go on several field trips, go to hotel/water park with Grandma and Grandpa in the middle of the week, and not have to rush around in the morning.

Preschool is a lot of fun and you can’t blame kids for wanting to go back or “missing” all the fun and games. Let’s be honest, we could all play in a preschool room all day. The process of deschooling will help shift your child’s mindset to a new form of school. Homeschooling is just as fun, we will make and play with our new friends, and we will learn a lot too. Deschooling can be hard in the moment, but make it fun and it will get done!

Homeschoolers who went to public or private school usually need to go through something called deschooling. But what about deschooling preschool?

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