Where to Start with Homeschooling

When I think back to when I started homeschooling as a working mom, I wasted so much time! My idea of where to start with homeschooling was quite misguided to be honest! 

I concentrated on all the wrong things and it caused resistance from my kids, me to be totally frustrated and general bad vibes in our house. Not fun! 

In today’s post I want to share with you what I found to be really important. It might come as a surprise to you. Or you might think that it doesn’t even make sense. But hear me out first please! 

Because if I can save you even a few days or weeks of stress and frustration, it will be totally worth it! I will have done my job! 

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I Wasted So Much Time!

I tell my clients and audience to be kind to themselves. So I need to give myself grace too! But honestly, I did waste a lot of time at the beginning of our homeschooling journey. 

My main obsessions were a homeschool room and finding a curriculum. And along with this, were doubts and worries that I didn’t actually know what to do. Was I even qualified to homeschool?

So as you can see, I started my homeschool from a place of fear, doubt, and anxiety. And my kids picked up on this. Even though their public school experience had been super traumatic, they were not excited about or interested in homeschooling. 

I was so frustrated and resentful that my children didn’t want to participate in anything at all. All my lessons feel flat and it made me angry, to be honest! 

Eventually I realized that I needed to take a step back. And it was the best thing that I could have done. It took off the pressure and gave me some time to figure out the best way forward. 

And that is how I stumbled on the concept of deschooling. And I recommend this is where to start with homeschooling

What is Deschooling?

Deschooling is something that has changed my life! I know I sound like a fanatic, but hear me out! Deschooling help me to:

  • continue homeschooling when I wanted to give up,
  • figure out how to actually go about it,
  • open my mind to all the possibilities out there.
So if you’re not familiar with deschooling this is what it is in a nutshell:
Deschooling is a term invented by Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich. Today, the word is mainly used by homeschoolers, especially unschoolers, to refer to the transition process that children and parents go through when they leave the school system in order to start homeschooling. The process is a crucial basis for homeschooling to work. It involves children gradually transitioning away from their schoolday routine and institutional mentality, redeveloping the ability to learn via self-determination, and discovering what they want to learn in their first homeschool days.

What this definition fails to mention, is how much unlearning you as the parent need to do. I actually feel like it’s much more than your child! Your institutional mentality will be much more ingrained that that of your kiddo! 

And that’s why I feel it’s the most important first step when it comes to being a successful working homeschool mom. 

Why Do I Need to Unlearn Everything?

Ok, so it’s all very well to know what deschooling means. But why is it actually important for you to unlearn everything? I get that it sounds like a lot of work and a bit scary too! I was totally petrified of the whole concept at the beginning! 

The reason why you need to unlearn is because what you know and believe, might not be what your kiddo needs to thrive. And your chosen life of working and homeschooling, might not be possible if you have very set ideas about what life should look like. 

You’re embarking on a journey that’s pretty unusual!  Lots of people might not understand and you might feel like you can’t actually make it work.

And that is why you need to deschool! You need to be open and curious about all the wonderful avenues, detours and new paths you are going to need go down to get to where you want to go! Because that’s how you’re going to succeed!

What Deschooling Looks Like in Practice

The beauty about starting your homeschooling journey with deschooling, is that you can start from a place of curiosity, flexibility, and fun! Not like my fear, anxiety and stress! 

It means that you can start by taking a step back, rather than rushing ahead without a guide or any idea. I found that it really took off the pressure so I was able to bond with my boys, and to really get to know them. 

So here are some things you can do while you deschool and why:

  • Let your child sleep as late as they want to. It will help you see when they’re the most awake and receptive to learning. And if they’re transitioning from public school, they’ll need a lot of rest. 
  • In the same way, let them eat when they want to. You’ll see if they need food to motivate them. And it’s an opportunity for communication and bonding. 
  • Give them lots and lots of books to read. You’ll learn a lot about what and how they like to read. And what they’re interested in. 
  • Ease into your new schedule. Don’t try and homeschool for hours and hours every day, right from the start. Rather add homeschooling in slowly and comfortably. 
  • Try out resources and curricula, without any expectations. You’re going to learn loads about your kiddo’s learning style without pressuring them to choose one resource they have to stick to. You’ll also save lots of money on expensive wasted curricula! 
  • If your kiddos are small, just let them play and play and play. Again you’ll learn lots about them. And they will be learning lots too! 
  • Do research without the pressure. If you take away the need to hit the ground running, you can make better decisions about how to go ahead. 
  • Find your people. Deschooling can also help you to figure out what kind of support you might need, what kind of people you want your child to be around, and who your community are going to be. 

Final Thoughts on Where to Start with Homeschooling

Deschooling is definitely the very first step, in my experience. It will set you up for a homeschool where you’re open to what your child needs, you can be flexible, and you can figure everything out without the stress of time and expectations. 

It might not be easy. It might be downright uncomfortable! But don’t waste time like I did. Rather build that solid foundation so that you can forge ahead when the time is right! 

As always, I’m here if you want to know where to start with homeschooling. It will help you to spend time on the right things. And we will be able to figure out a way forward together! 

Charlotte Jones - Working Homeschool Mom Coach

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