What is De-Schooling?

So you’ve de-registered your child from school?

What next?

The first thing is to make sure you understand what your responsibilities are in regards to your child’s education.  It is your responsibility in accordance with the Education Act Section 7 to provide an education for your child.

Parents have a right to educate their children at home. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 provides that:

“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable –

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”

2.3 The responsibility for a child’s education rests with his or her parents.

How you go about providing this education is up to you, and we can talk a bit more about that another day.

But for now de-schooling-

If you hang around with home educators long enough, sooner or later you will hear the term de-schooling. What could appear as a bit of a buzzword, can be a really important phrase when starting out home educating an already ‘schooled’ child.

As the name suggests, it is a time where the child learns to readjust to life at home, and de-school.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing structured takes place during this time, but rather it is a return to home life rather than school life.  It certainly doesn’t mean the child won’t learn anything either.

I often hear new home educators worry about their child not learning anything during a de-schooling phase. We need to always remember that learning doesn’t only  happen in educational settings.  If that were the case many of us would have simply stopped learning when we stopped institutional education.

Start to challenge your view of learning, and your educational mindset, and look for learning in even the most everyday activities.

How you de-school will depend very much on your philosophy of education and what works best for your family.

There is no right or wrong way of doing it.

That is the beauty of life at home, it’s your home, your life and it will happen (or should) in a way that reflects your family values and your philosophies of education.

When I first started home educating way back when, people used to say that the recommended amount of time was a month for every year the child was at school.

This will vary for each family and even each child.  Some children will be chomping at the bit to do more structured activity and others will appreciate the time to unwind and find their feet, especially if their school experience was a negative one.

My eldest child went to high school for 6 months when we still lived in Australia.  We only pulled him out because we thought we were moving to the UK sooner than we actually were.

School for him was a positive experience.  He enjoyed it and he didn’t leave due to any negativity.

Even though he had been home educated before the 6 months he went to school, when he came back home, he still needed a time to de-school.

He needed to relearn family life, he needed to own his own journey once more, and he needed to reconnect with our HE networks.

It was an important part of the adjustment process.   Back then, I was much stricter than I am now,  there was no computer during school hours nor tv either, so he found quite constructive things to do. In fact I think from memory he read, a lot and developed an interest in magic/card tricks, which lead to him starting a YouTube channel, which later lead to a bigger channel.  He went on to study film making at university, and has now graduated.

But for many with a more autonomous view of learning and child raising will be quite comfortable allowing your children to just chill out and find their own path, and that is fine too.

When a child goes to school, there is often a relational shift.   The teacher is the educator and you are the parent.  Again, depending on your philosophy of education, and how you plan on home educating your child, you may find your hat needs to be readjusted.

Your child needs to learn that parents can help them learn things too.   That they are their biggest enabler and facilitator, when it comes to helping them learn, pretty well anything they are interested in.

De-schooling provides a time for the child and parent to re-adjust, and for relationship to happen.  Often during this time, people spend it doing relaxed learning.  Taking a book to the park, some paints to the beach, visiting a library, going to the theatre, bike riding, bush walking using it a time to reconnect with life and each other. 

But what if your child comes down Monday morning and wants to start a project?

Then help them!

Run with that.  If your child is the type that likes activity and busyness and has a 101 things to learn that week, then facilitate that learning.

De-schooling for your child, might just be about them finally getting the chance to do all the things school has gotten in the way of them doing.

In summary, a time of de-schooling can provide you with the time;

  • To read about home education and work out how you want to do it (for your philosophy).
  • Gives the child time to heal if they left school for reasons such as bullying.
  • Help you re-adjust your relationship.
  • For your child to rediscover learning, and hopefully make suggestions about how they would like for this to happen.
  • Join home ed groups and start making friends.


However you do it or not do it, is fine.  There is no prescribed method. But whatever you do, remember to have fun, and treasure the home educating journey.

The time will simply fly by!




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