From School to Homeschooling: How to Deschool and Craft the Homeschool You Dreamed

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You’ve made the big decision to move from public school or private school to homeschool. Now what?! Can you make the transition from traditional school to homeschooling without losing your mind? How can you start homeschooling with peace and joy after a traditional school experience? Today’s post is written by Christie Crofford, a mom just like you who pulled her kids from the public school system and started homeschooling with stars in her eyes… only to find things weren’t going quite as smoothly as she had hoped! Christie has some great tips for how to deschool and ease the transition into your new homeschool lifestyle.

From School to Homeschooling: How to Deschool and Craft the Homeschool You Dreamed

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You Can Run but You Can’t Hide From Deschooling

By: Christie Crofford

The curriculum was bought and the notices sent. Carefully thought-out budgets were spent. Books lay on the table in a neat little stack, alongside fresh pencils as sharp as a tack. The mother was snuggled up in her bed while visions of learning danced in her head. They’d be attentive and focused, soaking the fun. But at the end of the first day she cried, “What have I done?!”

Okay, obviously this is not The Night Before Christmas classic we all know and love, but nevertheless, I could create an entire rendition based off of my naïve aspirations for our homeschool alone. 

I mean, we were prepared for this: After vigilant prayer, I spent months researching the best curriculum tailored for each of my children’s learning styles, I watched countless YouTube videos of homeschooling days in action, and I read all the blogs and books. Confidence swelled within me that this was indeed my calling. 

After three years of my 3rd and 2nd grader being at the local elementary school, my husband and I made the decision to pull them out to homeschool, along with my incoming kindergartener. Public school was in our rearview mirror, and we were waving hello to a new way of life – or so I thought.

Homeschooling doesn’t look like public school

What I wasn’t prepared for was the deschooling process that would take place in our homeschool, both organically and systematically. My husband and I were both first-generation homeschoolers, so reflexively when it came to planning a homeschool day, I had every subject down to the minute. This resulted in what can be best described as me running around with a chicken with its head cut off, bouncing from child to child as they all needed my undivided attention. How do public school teachers even DO this?! 

From School to Homeschooling: How to Deschool and Craft the Homeschool You Dreamed

Homeschooling or School at Home?

I was also met with a lot of, “I miss my friends!” “I want to go back to school.” “Ughhh, I don’t want to do this.” For 9 years I was their mom, not teacher, and I reminded myself (through gritted teeth) to give grace in this adjustment. But it stung, nonetheless. 

It stung because in my head I had all these visions for how our school day was going to go; the magical, unadulterated learning environment I was indelibly creating for my children. The expectations I was placing on myself, as well as my children, set us up for failure because I quickly realized that this wasn’t homeschool at all. 

I was single handedly recreating public school in our home, a complex and unquestionably failing system upheld by an entire building of staff and students – and I was failing miserably.

It takes time to deschool… and that’s normal

This was the one aspect of homeschooling I had not prepared myself for, but the more I looked into it, the more I saw how incredibly normal this is when your children are adjusting from public school to homeschool. Not only are they in a completely different learning environment, but as parents, we often try to mimic public schooling due to our own feelings of inadequacy in educating our children

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If my child doesn’t have 6 different classes a day, they’re not going to be able to function in society. We need to make sure they’re learning X, Y, and Z by 10 years old or else they’re failing. They need to be in the books every single day to succeed. 

These are the common inner voices we have programmed into our brains from years of compulsory schooling, which in turn robs us of all the joys and freedom homeschooling affords us. What do we do?

What is deschooling?

Deschooling is the process of shedding those common public-school mindsets and trading them for the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling

For us, this happened both naturally and systematically. When I first recognized my efforts of public schooling at home were fundamentally going against every reason I had decided to homeschool in the first place, I shifted my gears, which oftentimes felt unnatural as we bucked against the norm.

School -v- Homeschooling

  • Instead of having a rigorous learning schedule, I lightened our load to just the basics with an emphasis on child-led learning
  • Instead of feeling the need to check the boxes every single day, I observed the individual cues from each of my children as to what we would be accomplishing. 
  • I found learning through play over workbooks, careful observation over instruction, questions over answers, conversation over text
  • Public school said each child either passed or failed; our homeschool said a child could try until they mastered a concept
  • Public school said learning happened between 8 and 3; our homeschool said learning happened any time, anywhere
  • Public school said a child required hours of homework to retain information; our homeschool said a child could just play and be a kid outside of numbers and letters

It was a beautiful and painful rebirth of what education truly meant to us.

Finding our homeschool rhythm

Over time, our homeschooling day started to take on a completely unique look. We eventually settled into a rhythm that we can easily tweak due to life circumstances, easing the demand of a lock-tight schedule. We found that four days of bookwork plus one “fun” day (in which we focus on the arts, cooking, and life skills) serves our family in this season of life. We’ve learned how to bed school when we’re sick, take mental health days, and find beauty in nature and the mundane. We’ve gone down all the rabbit trails, conversations have taken us to far-off lands and ideas, and our bonds are forever strengthened through the journey. 

Shedding the rigor of public schooling has allowed us the most beautifully stretching experience of our collective lives, and we had the honor of growing in this together.

When you fall into the comparison trap, remember your WHY

That isn’t to say it was a seamless evolution; I find myself even four years in still at times comparing and questioning my efforts. I remind myself of why we do this

Yes, my children are going to be different than some of their counterparts. They’re going to learn things at a different rate, maybe even at a different time in a diverse way, and sometimes that is going to fly against the face of all we normalize in society. 

mother and child homeschooling history fun

You CAN transition from a traditional school experience to homeschooling

If you are a parent who is either considering homeschooling or pulling your child from public school, do not let the notion of a challenging adjustment period frighten you or deter you from homeschooling altogether. Instead, consider this your very first homeschool lesson that you’ll undoubtedly figure out along the way, full of grace and growth and a disassembling and restructuring of all you know. And you will come out the other side together, in ways you had never even dreamed of.  

Christie is a homeschooling mom of 5 living in the midwest with her husband of 15 years, Derrek. Her passion is speaking encouragement and life into women from all walks of motherhood. When Christie isn’t doing the mom thing, you can find her sharing the ups and downs of her homeschooling journey on YouTube at her channel One Blessed Mess.

Other resources to get started homeschooling:

From School to Homeschooling How to Deschool and Craft the Homeschool You Dreamed

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