Deschooling. What Is It Exactly?

“Deschooling, a term rooted in the beliefs of Ivan Illich, is the shift from a traditional, government-influenced institution of schooling to a less-restricted method of learning that focuses on being educated by one’s natural curiosities” 

Source Wikipedia

During my quest to educate myself on home educating, the term ‘Deschooling’ has popped up on many occasions.

What exactly is deschooling? A quick Google search finds the quote above on Wikipedia.

Deschooling is said to be one of best ways to handle a childs transition from the embedded structure of school education to the flexibility of home education

Many of the home educating facebook group posts that I’ve read have all said that this is a crucial learning experience, not just for the child but for the family. Some home educating parents have said that they wished that they had deschooled for longer, others say that deschooling took longer than they had anticipated.

I’m trying to figure out how a parent knows when deschooling should be over?! Does it only apply to curriculum learning, as in the deschooling stops when the child picks up a book, or requests to do some Maths?!

I intend for T to keep doing his Maths and English 10 minute work outs (he’s been enjoying doing these whilst attending school) and then just see how the rest goes and formulate learning plans as and when he instigates interest in certain areas. He has already said that he’d like to go to Berlin in March for his birthday, so I’ve given him the task of researching ‘stuff for kids to do in Berlin’ and will guide him in his online search for cheap flights!

Does this mean I’m not succeeding at deschooling?!

UPDATE: Since writing this blog and searching WP, I have discovered ‘unschooling’ – I interpret this as not following any curriculum nor lesson planning and all learning being primarily child led, meaning that I am doing a combination of both Home Educating and Unschooling. This is after we’ve deschooled of course – even though I’m still figuring out exactly what that is!

2 thoughts on “Deschooling. What Is It Exactly?

  1. Hi Kirsty, I don’t know if it would be of any use, I started homeschooling/home-edding over a year ago and I found that deschooling wasn’t only for the children but also for ourselves the parents, and that there wasn’t really any way to speed the process up. Reading books, talking with other home-edders helps, but it is really time and the process of stepping away from mainstream education and way of doing. It takes time, finding that six months later your view has changed on why and how, what education is for, the kind of life we want to live, everyday activities, how they learn, what they need in life etc., then again six months later, with sometimes what felt like light bulb moments 🙂 Then going backwards, forwards again. A rule of thumb I heard of was one month per year of traditional schooling but it depends… It’s still changing for me and I’m guessing it will continue to change also as the children grow. How far you want to step away from the mainstream ways and the structure is your choice. I find it depends on the reasons why people decide to homeschool. In practice deschooling would be not organising any structured learning and instead follow ones’ and the children’s interests for fun, games, animals, even TV for some is not a problem if there’s a show the child is really interested in. It could be playing with snap circuits all day or legos, to switching games every fifteen minutes, until they get an idea of what interests them, and we see how they learn, what they like… It might lead to other subjects too, i.e. being interested in Vikings might lead to history, natural history, maths and/or architecture, engineering of the boats, navigation, geography, biology people of the north vs south, politics, economy, languages, mythology, and/or making day trips out of it… One book I really liked was the Pam Laricchia one on unschooling, for example. All the best!!


    • Thank you so much for this reply, you have very much added some clarity to my thoughts! I think I’m falling victim to overthinking at the moment, when I should just be letting go of any worry regarding not doing it right?! I’ll definitely look up your book recommendation!


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