children, getting started homeschooling, homeschooling

The Importance of Deschooling

By the time my parents started homeschooling me, I had survived three grade schools –two public and one private school. I aptly say “survived.” In each school, I learned that I was not good enough. I learned that the things that would help me most could and would be used against me. For instance, recess helped me get my wiggles out, but it could and would definitely be taken away if I wiggled too much.

Everything at school was contrary to the way that I was instinctively. I was instinctively passionate, inquisitive, emotional, and sensitive. In order to survive in school, I’d have to let go of who I really was –be unpassionate, unquestioning, unemotional, and insensitive. If I wasn’t, I was subject to bullying –by children and adults.

Before I had finished kindergarten, I was already being bullied. My mother defended me against teachers trying to force me to write right-handed instead of left-handed. My friends Katie and Steven defended me against other kids who were unkind.


In first grade, the school divided our class into two different rooms. It was decided that I talked to and depended on Katie and Steven too much. So, I was put in a different class away from my friends and protectors. I’m sure this seemed reasonable to those in leadership. To this little 6 year old, it seemed cruel and scary.

It only got worse when we moved and changed schools. In addition to being a highly emotional child, I had undiagnosed learning problems.

By the time my parents brought me home for school, I believed that I was stupid, ugly, and worthless. The trauma done by traditional brick-and-mortar schools was significant and lasting –some things took years to unlearn.

School had come to mean something dangerous, scary, and traumatizing. I had identified learning itself as dangerous. It induced a fight-or-flight response.

Homeschooling a child who has identified everything learning-related as traumatizing is very challenging.

I don’t envy my mother the task she had. She was very patient with me in spite of the ongoing problems I gave her, in spite of all the anger, learning, and attention problems.

This is why deschooling is so important.

 The concept of deschooling was unknown to my parents, but eventually, by pursuing my own interests, I was able to learn that learning was actually fun and not really as scary as it had been in public and private school.

I was never really good at school and formal learning, but I was great at teaching myself and learned well when I was interested.  

Deschooling helps your child undo the brick-and-mortar school mentality and any damage done by it. This is an important step if your child has been in a brick-and-mortar school or if you’ve run your homeschool like a brick-and-mortar school.

Homeschooling parents can sometimes, unwittingly do this same type of damage because of their approach to schooling.

Deschooling helps a child’s brain reset and learn that learning should be and can be fun.
Sometimes, it is actually the parent that needs to deschool, to get out of the public school mentality.  It is hard to get years of experience and the pressure norms out of our heads and let go of our expectations. It takes thinking outside the box and a willingness to throw off what others tell us that education is supposed to look like.

We have to be willing to do what is best for the child.

Removing the child as far as we can from what they view as scary, allowing them to see that it isn’t scary, that is most important.

Learn more about deschooling here.


Sarah Forbes


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