Breaking Free: How Deschooling Helps You Live a Purposeful Life

Deschooling, the process of breaking away from traditional schooling and its associated beliefs, practices, and structures, helps us live a purposeful life.

While the concept was initially introduced by the unschooling movement, it has since become increasingly popular among homeschool families so that all homeschool families can find ways to help their kids learn more effectively and live more purposefully.

In my homeschool years, I’ve learned there’s a connection between deschooling and living our lives more purposefully.

Say whaaaa? Deschool to live life purposefully? Yes!

I’ve seen it in my own life, the life of my children, and other homeschool families who have deschooled too: we become more intentional with our time and aptitudes.

Here are seven ways I see that deschooling helps us homeschool families live a more purposeful life…

1. Deschooling encourages self-directed, lifelong learning.

Traditional schooling is often focused on meeting standardized learning objectives, reviewing and reciting knowledge bits, and achieving grades. Though this approach is a sequential learning approach, this traditional approach leads students to feel disconnected from their learning and disengaged from the material they’re learning.

When we homeschool families ask ourselves what we want for our kids, almost always you’ll hear that we want to build in a love for lifelong learning and we want our children to have an individualized education.

If we strip away the conventional approaches to engaging an education, we are left with a child in front of us, that still enjoys learning. (We just don’t realize that until we deschool).

That child enjoys learning: it’s what we humans do. But that child enjoys learning on his/her own terms for his/her own reasons and learns in ways that may or may not reflect a conventional approach.

When a homeschool family deschools, they gradually shift toward a more self-directed or child-based and child-led education. (Whether that includes another homeschool philosophy approach like Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, or Classical approach.)

A self-directed educational infusion allows kids to be connected to their learning journey.

Deschooling encourages self-directed learning, where the student has more control over their learning journey. They are free to explore topics that interest them and learn in a way that makes sense to them.

This approach can help students develop a love for learning, as they are able to pursue their interests and passions.

So parents discover that not only does their child love their learning, but it’s naturally an individualized education too.

2. It also promotes flexibility.

Deschooling encourages flexibility in learning, routines, and curriculum.

It allows parents and children to customize their learning experience to suit their needs and interests. This approach can help students to be more engaged in their learning, as they are able to learn at their own pace, and in a way that works best for them.

For example, if a child is interested in science, they can focus on that subject for a period, and if they want to take a break, they can do so without falling behind.

Not only did our family discover that learning also happened after dinner, on the weekends, and whenever the school hours weren’t happening, we learned that where we learned could be anywhere too.

Clearly, we were in the family room often, because I still occasionally find a nest of erasers under cushions, growing like a nest of mice apparently. We find pencils and markers under car seats too.

Learning happens everywhere.

And learning can happen through any subject of interest at all. If a kiddo is interested in Minecraft, he can print a few writing prompts from Pinterest (cause there is surely a free workbook for that), he can learn spelling words from that writing activity, he can do geometry to learn how to create different shapes, he’ll learn how to manage his resources, and he’ll learn how to be part of a team too.

We need to think outside the educational box to understand that learning can happen through our kids’ interests too.

deschooling live a purposeful life

3. Deschooling supports social and emotional development.

Traditional schooling focuses on academic achievement at the expense of social and emotional development. (Why we’re questioned about homeschool socialization when kids are told to be quiet in school, I will never understand).

Deschooling, on the other hand, promotes a holistic approach to learning that includes social and emotional development.

It allows students to learn from their experiences, and to develop critical life skills such as communication, problem-solving, and collaboration.

And in my own homeschool family, I’ve seen with my own eyes that learning to negotiate, be respectful, be heard and understood, express one’s feelings and thoughts, be kind and considerate, learn to share, and all the important socialization things are addressed.

Socialization happens within families (for the beneficial and not-so-beneficial ways); but we parents are intentional about wholeheartedly engaging our kids, connecting to our kids, and listening to our kids. (Not something teachers or schools promise our children).

4. It encourages creativity and innovation.

Deschooling promotes creativity and innovation by allowing kids (& their parents) to pursue their interests and passions. It encourages them to think outside the box and explore new ideas and perspectives.

For a very long time, I heard many assumptions voiced about homeschool kids (but we know assumptions are never 100% accurate).

The assumption I heard was that homeschool kids are geniuses. Sure, some of them might be. However, some school kids might be too.

No question though, a deschooled homeschool kid get many hours to follow whatever rabbit trails that child wants to pursue.

You spend enough time tinkering on the piano, whittling wood, or writing poems, you’re bound to see an engaged, curious kid become a concert pianist, a skilled carpenter, or a published poet sooner than you might see with some of his/her schooled counterparts. (They’re getting to those 10,000 hours of expertise a whole lot faster).

Not that all homeschool kids become geniuses, of course. (I’ve also seen deep dives on The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series).

When our homeschool kids get more unprescribed time, they do more stuff.

And don’t assume that homeschool parents aren’t touched by these value shifts too. They’re equipping their kids to do creative, amazing things. And they have always wondered if they could draw, they could develop a new app, or run for a federal election as a political candidate too (my husband is doing the political representative thing).

We all catch the creativity bug in our homeschool homes, eventually.

Creativity is encouraged in our children’s lives as much as the homeschool parents’ lives.

Deschool your Homeschool and reimagine your homeschool life…

5. Deschooling encourages kids to be curious and to seek out new knowledge and experiences.

Quickly into my homeschool years, I realized that when a child asked a question, it was me who was going to address that question. They might not have a chance to ask a teacher in a classroom unless I answered (or found the answer).

So I had to stop and look it up, find it in a storybook that my child might find interesting to read, or ask someone who might know.

When you do that often enough, you practice following your curiosities too.

And when you do that often enough, you gradually recognize that your child is ever-curious, always thinking about something, and if you’d just get out of their way, and stop prescribing meaningless activities that don’t have inherent meaning to her, she’ll go up to her bedroom and write the stories that do have meaning and relevance to her life.

This deschool approach can help students become self-directed learners who are capable of learning independently throughout their lives.

6. It also helps clarify our life intentions and values.

It provides us and our kids with space, solitude, and time to reflect on what is truly important.

By stepping off the conventional path, families can create a lifestyle that aligns with our values and priorities. This process can help us to live more intentionally and purposefully, as we are able to focus on what matters most to us.

  • So what are your family values?
  • What are your personal values?
  • And are those values aligning with your daily activities?
You can connect with me in a coaching conversation to learn more about how you can deschool your homeschool life.
7. Deschooling can provide families with more time.

And time allows for exploring new interests, spending quality time together, and pursuing meaningful life experiences.

This leads to a sense of expansiveness and freedom, as we are not tied down to a rigid schedule, calendar, or curriculum.

We are free to create our own path and follow our own passions, not think we have to do things the way others do them, which is truly liberating.

Overall, deschooling can help families live more purposefully by providing us the space and time to reflect on our values and priorities and pursue our interests and passions. It can help families create a lifestyle that aligns with their goals and aspirations and to experience a sense of focus, expansiveness, and freedom.

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Teresa Wiedrick

I help homeschool mamas shed what’s not working in their homeschool & life, so they can show up authentically, purposefully, and confidently in their homeschool & life.