What is 'Deschooling'?

The process of deschooling is only relevant to home school children who have started attending a school and then opt to receive a home learning education. Deschooling is the process of acclimatisation between learning at school and learning in the home environment. This article discusses what parents can expect around the time of this transition, and how parents can help ease their children into the experience of having a home school education.

Why Might the School to Home Transfer be a Difficult Transition?

While schools usually follow a rigidly organised timetable that will usually be dictated by the National Curriculum (Local Education Authorities, LEAs, ensure that all state schools follow this Curriculum, while a few private schools also do) and include equally timed slots for various subjects, the home education experience will not usually contain this degree of structure.

Another reason that the transition may be difficult is that home schooled children may opt out of school because it has involved a traumatic experience, such as school phobia or bullying. In these cases, the period of adaptation to home schooling may involve not only getting used to a new way of education but also re-establishing a child’s self-esteem.

Practical Formalities

Parents of children who are already registered at a mainstream school have to contact their school’s headteacher to de-register from the school. It is important to be aware that despite this notification, parents do not require the school’s (or LEA’s) permission to educate a child at home. Sample versions of these letters are available from the website of the home education support group Education Otherwise. It is the job of the school to tell the LEA of your decision. Some schools may ask parents to attend a meeting to discuss the choice to home educate; this is not compulsory but may be useful.

Thereafter parents may receive further contact from the LEA – they are allowed to enquire about your child’s education, but cannot usually contest its provision in the home learning environment. The LEA can only intervene if they consider that parents are not teaching their child or providing an acceptable level of education in any other way.

Adapting to Learning Together

The first few months of home teaching may be different from the rest of this form of education as parent and child (or child and tutor) adapt to learning together. Parents may also need to go through the ‘deschooling’ process, realising that not every individual’s education has to be like their own, if that was school based. If children are older, then it is important to consider any qualifications that may be involved in the home schooling process as soon as possible, since a curriculum, and examination arrangements, will have to be made.

Even if an LEA does not immediately approach you to discuss your decision, it’s a good idea to think about your response and education method, as they will usually be in touch during the first year of home education.