- Decide you don’t agree with mainstream American education policies. Maybe you don’t like standardized tests, early start times and stoplight behavior charts. Maybe your beef is specific to your child’s unique needs and how the school system is failing your child. Maybe your child thrives in school but you know there is more to life than schedules and academic performance and you want to spend the day with your little one. All reasons are legitimate but you must be fed up and want something radically different.
- Research. What are your homeschool laws? What kind of homeschooler do you want to be? I really like Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf and of course, unschooling. I recommend spending time with other homeschooling families. Find out what works for them and how you can learn from their hard earned lessons.
- Deschool. Deschooling is the transition from directed to self-directed learning, a time to move away from regimented education to the goal of ownership of independent learning. It is commonly accepted that kids should deschool for one month per every year of school they attended whether the plan is to unschool or more traditionally homeschool. My kids have never been to school (except for those 4 days!) so though they didn’t need deschooling, I am still deschooling myself from a lifetime of public school. For me, deschooling looks like the slow but steady push from demanding my children do activities I have prepared to trusting my children’s instincts to lead them to what they want to learn next. Trust is key for the deschooling process. Trust yourself, trust your kids, trust the world around you.
- Play. Lots and lots of unstructured playtime. Active kids are happy kids and an unschool responsibility is to fill your kids’ cup with activities they love.
- Reflection. After deschooling and playing nonstop, it’s time to turn inwards and reflect if the current plan is working for everyone. If it isn’t working for every single member of the family, it’s time to do something different! Maybe you need the consistency of a curriculum or your kids would like to do in-depth unit studies. Maybe you should liquidate all of your assets and move the family to Peru as digital nomads. Maybe you are like us and reflections rarely create big changes but you can identify little things to tweak to help everybody have a better unschool day.
- Stay calm. Flexibility rules and there is no need to plan everything. Live in the now and tend to today rather than worrying about the future. You only have to do one unschool day at a time!