Deschooling Facebook Live Resources

Rachel Miller & Shannon Stoltz hosted a Facebook Live in the Texas Unschoolers Group on Monday, October 26th to talk about Deschooling. The replay is available to watch in the group. We covered:

  • What is Deschooling?
  • Why is Deschooling necessary?
  • How long does Deschooling take?
  • What does Deschooling look like?
  • What do we DO while we’re Deschooling?
  • How do we combat doubts?

If y’all haven’t “met” us previously, Rachel is the admin & content creator for the Texas Unschoolers Facebook Page, the main moderator in the Texas Unschoolers Group, and a veteran unschooling mom to two teens (17 & 15). Her favorite topics are gaming and respectful parenting.

Shannon is a veteran unschooling mom with four “kids” (23, 21, 18, and 16) and a sometime contributor to Texas Unschoolers – usually on topics related to dyslexia, autism, adhd, and following kids’ diverse interests.

We wanted to provide y’all with some links to follow-up on various quotes & resources we mentioned. We’ll also come back and continue to add any relevant materials brought up during the Q&A portion or posted later.

We’ve tried our best to credit quotes, thoughts, & ideas to the person/website/source where they originated.  Any failure to attribute or attribute correctly is not intentional.  We’ve been reading, listening, and participating in the Unschooling community for over a decade – so know that if we personally share something particularly profound, it’s due to the hard work and encouragement of the thousands who have come before us.

What is Deschooling?

Deschooling allows us to contemplate a new way.  It allows us to see how learning really happens. It gives us an opportunity to examine our paradigm around education and life in general and gives us new perspective to work with.

Michelle Conaway
Deschooling – Why It’s Important

Deschooling is about learning to trust your child. You are building trust between you. When you impose school-like structures, your child can’t relax in the knowledge that those days are over. You’ll need to back up and give more time until they can trust that school is over.

Issa Waters
Everything You Need to Know About Deschooling Before Unschooling

How long does Deschooling take?

If you had a less than stellar school experience it might be easier to walk away from all the schoolish ways of learning, socializing and connecting. Still, since unschoolers and homeschoolers are such a small segment of the general population, things like back-to-school sales, football games, and prom season may trigger some wistfulness that you or your child harbors.

Sue Patterson
What Does Deschooling Mean?

What does Deschooling look like?

If you knew you only had a year more with that child, what would you expose him to? Where would you go? What would you eat? What would you watch? What would you do?

If you had only ONE year—and then it was all over, what would you do? Four seasons. Twelve months. 365 days.

Do that THIS year. And the next.

That’s how unschooling works. By living life as if it were an adventure. As if you only had a limited amount of time with that child. Because that’s the way it IS.

Kelly Lovejoy
Unschooling: Getting It (Kelly’s section is near the bottom of the page.)

Collecting data on human learning based on children’s behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World.

Carol Black
A Thousand Rivers

We have forgotten that children are designed by nature to learn through self-directed play and exploration, and so, more and more, we deprive them of freedom to learn, subjecting them instead to the tedious and painfully slow learning methods devised by those who run the schools.

Peter Gray
Free to Learn

Studies over many years have found that behavior modification programs are rarely successful at producing lasting changes in attitudes or even behavior. When the rewards stop, people usually return to the way they acted before the program began. More disturbingly, researchers have recently discovered that children whose parents make frequent use of rewards tend to be less generous than their peers.

Alfie Kohn
The Risks of Rewards

When I use coercion instead of conversation in attempts to “teach” them the things the world might offer them through harsh lessons, I am using fear and privilege, not respect and liberatory relationship-building.

Akilah S. Richards
Privilege, Oppression, and Thoughts on Raising Free People
You can find more from Richards here on her website: Raising Free People.

Unschooling is more like a dance between partners who are so perfectly in synch with each other that it is hard to tell who is leading. The partners are sensitive to each others’ little indications, little movements, slight shifts and they respond. Sometimes one leads and sometimes the other.

Pam Sorooshian
Unschooling is not “Child-Led Learning”

Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he’s not interested, it’s like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating.

Katrina Gutleben

If children lose academic skills over the few weeks of summer, then did they really ever learn those skills?  It must have been pretty shallow learning.

Peter Gray
Facts and Fiction About the So-Called “Summer Slide”

What DO we DO while we are Deschooling?

Read a little, Try a little, Wait a while, Watch.

Sandra Dodd
Read a little…

When I bring wonderful, new, different and intriguing things into our lives without any pressure or expectation, our wonder and enjoyment increases. When I tickle our senses with new smells, tastes, sounds and objects, we engage more fully with our world. 

Karen Lee
Natural Strewing

We have got to look for win-win, because when we are all lifted up and we are all comfortable, we all do better. But convincing someone who has that privilege to share it, is very much like us trying to make others understand that children are whole, complete beings. They do not need to grow into something, they deserve their wholeness just by being.

Erika Davis-Pitre
From the Exploring Unschooling podcast episode: Unschooling and Diversity with Erika Davis-Pitre

How to combat the doubts

The day ‘deschooling ends’ and ‘unschooling begins’ won’t be lit up in bright lights — There’s no ‘magic moment’.  Life will just continue with the wonderful rhythm you’ve found, you’ll see all the learning that’s happening every day, and eventually you’ll look back and realize, ‘Hey, I think we’re unschooling.

Pam Laricchia
What is Deschooling?

Deschooling – Why It’s Important

If you’ve started down the homeschooling path, or are about to,  you’ve probably heard the term deschooling. You may have heard people talking about it at a homeschool group gathering or read about it online. It may have been suggested on a Facebook group or other online community.

But what does it mean? You may think that deschooling sounds like a waste of time. You may even be afraid of the word. It seems to defeat the whole purpose of keeping your kids at home. You’ve brought or kept your kids home to do school, not deschool. So why is it so important and why do you keep seeing it pop up in conversations in the homeschool/unschool world?

Let’s take a look at deschooling. Even if your kids have never stepped foot in an institutional learning facility, you probably have. At the very least, you live in a society that values institutional style learning, where the child is told what, when, how and where to learn.

For the past 150 years our society has bought into the fact that when children reach a certain age, it’s time to stop learning naturally and start being taught. Kids in institutional learning facilities are required to learn certain things by certain ages or else they’re labeled as behind. You as the parent have probably bought into that idea to one degree or another. There is so much momentum behind this idea that in order to step away from it and look at it objectively, most of us need to deschool, let go of the school mindset and find another way.

What Is Deschooling and How Do I Do It?

Deschooling is a time that we get to relax. Think of it as a summer vacation. It’s a letting go. A period of rest and rejuvination. A time that we can just be with our kids and have fun, leaving behind anything that looks “schoolish”. It might be good to set up a predetermined period of time in which you vow to not even think about school. Give yourself time to let go of the artificial learning parameters set by the school systems.

If you’re kids have been in a school setting, they need time to decompress. To “be” and not have to worry about producing. They might watch t.v. for hours or play video games for days on end. That’s okay. You might go on walks around the neighborhood, sleep late, cook together or play board games. For the deschooling period, allow everyone, including yourself, to have a break from rushing to some invisible finish line.

The focus is on being together and also having time and space to think. It’s a great time to drop all expectations of HOW life should be and just LIVE life together as it is right now.

For you as the parent, this can be a great time to read all of the information there is about every form of homeschooling out there. It can be an information gathering time. A time to see what resonates with you and try it on for size.

Why Should We Deschool?

Our society and most of the world for that matter have bought into an idea that just isn’t true. We’ve bought into the idea that children need adults to define a curricula and implement it, otherwise the children will stop learning.

Did your child ever have lessons to teach them to walk? Did they ever have a teacher who taught them to talk? In most instances, the answer is no. They learned by watching you, their siblings and the world around them. They learn these things because they are the natural progression of a child. They don’t have to study or take classes to learn these things. They naturally want to do them.

Children are naturally curious about the world. When left alone, children will remain curious about the world and nothing will stop the learning process.

Deschooling allows us to contemplate a new way. It allows us to see how learning really happens. It gives us an opportunity to examine our paradigm around education and life in general and gives us new perspectives to work with. Deschooling can help us to shed the belief that learning has to happen in a certain way. It opens our eyes to the learning that is happening in every activity we participate in.

Deschooling is the gift we give to ourselves and our children – the gift of time to reexamine all that we think we know and be open to a new understanding.

What are the Benefits of Deschooling

Deschooling gives you time to discover – your children’s learning styles, their interests, ways to communicate better. It’s a time to discover how to be together all day, every day.

It gives you time to research and think about the different approaches your family might want to take.

It allows everyone to relax without feeling the need to produce.

It helps the child rediscover that learning is fun and can happen in ALL activities.

It helps kids that may have been in difficult situations at school to de-stress and relax.

It gives the parent time to observe their children and discover what they like, what they dislike and what their gifts and talents are.

What sort of Things Can We Do When We’re Deschooling

First and foremost, put the focus on Being rather than Doing. Inspired Doing will happen when a child is relaxed and enjoying him or her self. Allow the child to lead for a while. Let them do what they are inspired to do, even if that is to sleep. Having said that, here are a few ideas:

Stay up late watching movies, then sleep late the next day.

Go for walks

Play board games together

Have alone time – As much as your child needs.

Work on Projects together

Do Volunteer work

Build a Garden – take a gardening class together

Get outside and play – football, bike rides, soccer, playgrounds

Read-alone or together or better yet BOTH!

Play Video Games together – Parents: See what the buzz is around that new video game your child has been dying to play.

Hang Out – Talk about everyday life together

Go out for Pizza

Wash the Car together

Camp out in the backyard – gaze at the stars and contemplate the miracle of life

There are so many things you can do with your kids. You can also give your kids (yes, even your teen) time to play. Let yourself play. Rediscover what it’s like to just enjoy life on a day to day basis.

What If I Don’t Want to Deschool? My kids are already “behind”!

Deschooling may come later for you. You may jump right in with the curricula that you’ve chosen and then realize you need a break. Even some of the seasoned unschoolers started out jumping right into curricula, only to realize that a big break was needed shortly after.

Deschooling will not make your kids more “behind”. In fact, it just might give them the rest and inspiration that they need to excel at something they didn’t have time for when they were in school or doing school at home. Watch for those things and work on letting go of what our school systems have told us our children “should” be doing. Instead focus on what they are already doing and learning, without comparing it to anyone else.

I want to learn more about Deschooling. Where Can I Read More about it?

You can read more about deschooling at these websites:

Unschooling Mom2Mom

Living Joyfully

Sandra Dodd

Joyfully Rejoycing


Life Long Learning


Learn more about Michelle on our Contributors page.