Is this a nice idea or a must do?

Deschooling refers to a period of rest and recuperation after a child has been in the school system for some years and commences homeschooling.

Even if your children are young and have never been to school, YOU still need deschooling!

In homeschooling circles there is a lot of jargon: unschooling, deschooling, delight-directed, unit studies, mother culture etc.

This page, Part 2 of this e-course for new homeschoolers is giving you a good look at the word:


You’ve taken the kids out of school, now its time to get the school out of the kids!

Deschooling - kids bathing the dogYou need to ‘detox’ the children from what they learned in the school system. Actually, as parents, we also need to detox from our years spent in the school system!

Deschooling refers to the period (6 weeks to 3 months) after you have taken your child out of school. Some homeschooling parents also use this term for when they are “taking a break” (although this would be more accurately described as unschooling) or are transitioning from one curriculum choice to another.

Deschooling is similar to detoxing which we know from health sources as a time for changing diet, cutting out junk food, removing unwanted toxins from the human body. Deschooling  is a time where you allow your children freedom and space with no academic work to detox themselves of the school system. This could mean any of the following things:

  • Hurts from peers and teachers due to unfair labels (unkind words spoken)
  • Forced learning in a difficult area – when a child is weak in an area e.g. reading, the tendency is to rush them to remedial lessons, pile on the readers and go to special classes at school.
  • Being set free from what learning looks like and being allowed to rather discover that all life is learning

When new homeschooling parents hear that they need to enter a time of deschooling with their children before officially ‘starting’, they are usually a bit shocked, especially when we mention that it could be up to three months.

The next question that follows is invariably: “So what do they do then, in this 3 month period?”

As we said before. DO NOTHING. Do not teach your children!
We emphatically suggest that you do not use any workbooks or text books in this time.

“But won’t our kids get left behind?” you ask.

No, from now on you are not following anyone or keeping up with anything.

The beauty of homeschooling is that you set your own pace for each child. If they are not ready to “move on” you don’t. You determine what is best for your children’s progress and overall development as a person, not anyone else or any schedule or curriculum! You’re even free to disregard this advice, but years of experience of other families has shown that it is good to spend time deschooling.

Here are some alternatives to workbooks and text-book based learning:

  • Let the children play. They say that “Play is the work of childhood.” Let the children play, play and play – in sand or water, dress up games, make believe, whatever they choose. Through their play you will see that young children are often modelling the real world of adults. They are learning and observing.
  • Let older children pursue their hobbies or other interests.
  • Teach them to work in the home through chores and other entrepreneurial pursuits
  • Join a library and read to them, no matter how old they may be!
  • Take nature walks with them, not to teach – just to enjoy God’s creation
  • Learn to spend time together without rushing to and from school and sports
  • Make art and craft materials available to your children
  • Read, read, read stories together, at least an hour a day! (Older children can read aloud too.)
  • Limit screen time – pc games or TV and recreational movie-viewing

For hundreds of years, education centred around stories that were told in homes from one generation to the next. Stories are about people, places, events, problems and solutions.

Hearing stories develops auditory skills and develops the imagination, which is a precondition for problem solving – a skill needed for science, art, entrepreneurship and many other aspects of daily life. Without it, you can only be taught solutions to problems that other people have thought out.

Read aloud to your children until they leave home. Don’t stop once they are able to read alone. Sharing stories together builds a core of common knowledge to discuss and use to build relationships.

About 70% of what you read should be fiction. The other 30% should be biographies of good role models, travel stories (shared with a globe and atlas on hand) so that you children are learning living history and geography. Also add in a good dose of books about nature, science, technology and anything else that grabs your interest or that of your children.

After reading aloud, use narration (telling back) to see what your children have heard. There are no mistakes in a narration as it is a reflection of what the child has heard, not what you think they should have heard!

With older children you can introduce discussions and debates about issues that you read about. Debate is a powerful form of education.

Some of the many benefits of reading aloud, especially to teenagers, but also younger children are:

    • It develops auditory perception
    • Develops vocabulary and the medium in which we think
    • Develops the ability to discern underlying elements
    • Develops logical sequencing
    • Develops the ability to formulate and articulate ideas

Click here for 20 More Benefits of Reading Together


(This is why we have created three literature-based unit study programmes about South Africa, to include in your homeschooling journey at three different stages.)

And what you should do in this time is begin to continue researching your options with regards to curriculum, philosophy and methods without feeling any pressure to buy anything.




Article:First Aid” for New Homeschoolers


HomeHomeschoolingThePrimaryYearsschooling the Primary Years – a comprehensive guide for South African Homeschoolers by Shirley Erwee, a veteran homeschooling mother of 6 children.

This book provides information on legal issues and registration, socialisation, common mistakes to avoid, choosing curriculum, practical teaching tips, helping children with special education needs and more.

It also explains how all kinds of families, from single parent and single child families to large families with children across every age group, can successfully educate their children at home.

Homeschooling High School – a look at options for South Africans by Shirley ErweeHomeschoolingHighSchoolThumbnail

Homeschooling high school strikes fear into even the most dedicated homeschoolers! Those that are looking for an alternative to the mainstream school system need to find answers fast!

This book provides the answers you need about matric options and alternatives, tertiary education, entrepreneurship and also includes some testimonies of homeschoolers and their successes.

Teach Your Own – John Holt

Charlotte Mason Companion – Karen Andreola

Your First Year – How to Get Off to the Right Start – Linda Dobson

Mary Pride’s Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling: A Practical Homeschooling Book

How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and onto Learning– Carol Barnier



Shirley’s Preschool Activities for moms with little ones. Filling your days with gentle ideas for your preschoolers.

Coming up in the 3rd part of this e-course: Why school can never offer your children what they need: Building Family Relationships.

Top of Deschooling l Home l