Decompression, also called deschooling, is the essential first step of taking time off before beginning to homeschool. This isn’t just a vacation however, decompressing before homeschooling has structure and purpose.
I have a video about the Decompression process if you prefer. It is not a word-for-word read-along version of this blog post, but the two are very similar. I can’t do anything the same twice. 🙂 I’m sure you will find value in both the video and the Blog.
Your qualifications to homeschool
Something has caused you to withdraw from the public school system. Those reasons are yours, and yours alone. Everything will be okay. When you continue to buzz around the Happy Hive you will hear me say regularly, there is no wrong way to homeschool. Homeschooling has the privilege of being as individual as the families that are homeschooling!
Although the laws vary from state to state, you can be sure of THESE TRUTHS when it comes to YOUR QUALIFICATIONS:
- You are qualified to teach. You have been educating your children since birth and now you’re just going to pick up where you left off.
- Everything is learning, EVERYTHING. Your children are in a constant state of learning, so even when you *think* they aren’t, they most certainly are!
- Everyone one learns differently, this is a beautiful fact to be celebrated. Not all flowers bloom at the same time, nor do we want them to.
- Whatever *the reason* you have withdrawn from the public school, is the reason you need time to decompress.
- Decompression time is learning time. See #2.
- Do not rush into purchasing curriculum.
What is Decompressing?
So what exactly is decompressing before homeschooling or deschooling in this context? Decompressing after withdrawing from a public or private school (even a public charter school) and homeschooling is time for a reset. It’s time to relax, focus on family and get to know each other better. It’s time to re-establish your connections-without the outside pressure of “school”, homework and getting to the bus on time…. “School” and all it entails is a big deal. Those pressures have been stressful on everyone. The decompression phase is a detox of sorts.
What do we do during the decompression phase?
The overall focus of decompressing before homeschooling is going to be spending time together. It’s not a time for the kids to go off and play by themselves all day while you clean the house and run your side hustle. There is time for those things, but the overarching principle of the Decompression Phase is togetherness. This quiet time together without the need to raise your hand to go to the bathroom is such a wonderful place to start.
Many families begin this time with a shared devotional first thing in the morning. It can be as simple as a quote of the day (like from a calendar or website) or a scripture-based program you can do together.
I suggest moving through the Decompression Phase by introducing and mastering these 7 steps before you officially “start” homeschooling.
1. Establish a Word of the Year
If you are not familiar with a word of the year, it’s a word that guides goals. Many people choose their work around the New Year in late December or early January, but you can choose them anytime.
Starting a school is a big job! Having a word to help guide you will make a big difference. Don’t worry, you don’t have to just magically think of a word overnight. Follow the Happy Hive 5 step plan and you’ll have your perfect guiding word. Head over to THIS POST for a more detailed plan, and the free printable to help!
2. Spend quality time with good literature
Reading quality literature as a family comes next when you are decompressing before homeschooling plan. Choose a book and read it to your children. Snuggle up on the couch, in beanbag chairs, pillows on the floor, etc and read, read, read. Begin with 3 days a week if that’s what you can fit it, but aim for daily. You can find the Happy Hive favorite books here, but there are many book lists online as well.
Reading level does not matter. You can begin with picture books and progress to a chapter book to get into the swing of it. You will be surprised at how captivating a chapter book is even to the youngest of your children. As the parent, YOU are reading to your children, and they are listening, absorbing the story, the characters, and the good things that happen.
It’s ok for young children to quietly color, work on Poke Art or play while they listen, but every main player should gather for reading time. (Understanding one parent usually has to leave for work.)
3. Assign Chores and get Routines established
It’s important to get the house in order. I don’t mean perfection. Far from perfection. Simplify, organize and begin to think about routines. Remove items from your home you don’t need. Think of it as a Spring Cleaning, regardless of the time of year it is. Get the kids involved. Donate items others can use. The less stuff, the less mess, and the more comfortable everyone will be at home in their daily routine.
If you haven’t already, establish chores as the first “class”. Running the homeschool efficiently is the number one job of everyone involved. Giving my children chores and building their responsibility was one of the greatest lessons I ever gave them. Chore charts are a great tool at any age. Focus on mentoring each child HOW to do the chore, and praising their efforts regardless of the outcome.
When we were doing chores my son was too small to vacuum, but he wanted to so badly! He could not keep the vacuum flat on the floor so it would actually suck anything up. He just rolled that vacuum back and forth and was SO PROUD. I knew the room had NOT been vacuumed. Rather than re-do my son’s work, he was thanked and praised every time for his contribution to running the household. I simply rotated the room he *vacuumed* each time and I completed that room the next time. Eventually, he grew tall enough and WAS completing the chore appropriately.
Re-doing chores your children complete with love sends them the message they are not good enough. Give them time to blossom. Don’t invite people over who care what the towels look like when folded.
Chores remain part of your homeschool routine even after the Decompression Phase is over. My recommendation is chores are completed first, then throughout the day, such as after lunch and before bed.
4. Family Fun Time
Now that you have some key parts of the Decompression Phase running smoothly, it’s time to make sure there are Family Fun events planned and happening on a regular basis.
The quality time, reading, and decluttering should also include “fun school” activities like board games, field trips (especially to the library or used book store), time in nature, art, and dance parties! You can even make a routine trip to the grocery store a scavenger hunt for the items you need. There is nothing wrong with a good movie and discussion either!
Here is a Movie Discussion Guide I created you can download and use!
5. Circle the wagons
A little help from your friends is ALWAYS a good thing. As you move through the decompression phase, you are going to need friends. The thing of it is, you likely left many of them back in the school parking lot when you turned in the withdrawal paperwork. Have no fear.
There are local Homeschooling Groups, co-ops, and even Facebook Groups to help you circle those wagons around your children and your decision to homeschool. Use the slower pace of your Decompression phase to visit a few different park days, free co-op classes, etc., and find a good fit.
6. Begin to explore curriculum and Homeschooling Methods
Slowly explore the topics/curriculum you want to use within your homeschool, but don’t rush into purchases. The fun activities you are engaging in especially trips to the library should help generate interest by child or as a family. Curriculum is an important topic all on its own. You can see my post on Curriculum HERE.
When exploring curriculum, it’s helpful to know what method of homeschooling you feel drawn to. In THIS POST I explore 6 popular types of homeschooling. You do not need to choose right away, simply read, explore and begin to see what resonates. It can take a few years to really find a method that works.
7. Leave Perfection in the Parking Lot
Lastly, please give up perfection. There is no wrong way to homeschool. Your way is exactly what YOUR family needs. That’s the beauty of it! Homeschooling is fully customizable. If something isn’t working, make a change. Even if that means going through another decompression stage.
Leave all those voices telling you you have to be the perfect homeschool mom OR… in the parking lot at the school you withdrew the kids from! Your in-laws are going to quiz the kids to see what they are learning. In fact, the bank teller will too. And the doctor – the same people who asked “How is School Sweetheart?” in a casual way will now hone in and whip a multiplication quiz out of their purse. Don’t worry about it.
Create YOUR Customized Homeschool
You are ready to fly super-mom. Pick a start date, a name for your school, and begin to officially homeschool. Don’t forget to post your word of the year in a visible spot so everyone can be inspired by it every day.
Another fun way to customize your homeschool experience is with your very-own teacher name! That’s where “Mrs. Crabtree” came from. I didn’t want my children to call me Mom all day, and I thought it would be really awkward if they called me Mrs (our Last Name)! So we decided to adopt a homeschool teacher name!
My name was something we chose as a family because I didn’t want to lose my identity as Mom. I did separate school from parenting, but you certainly don’t have to. When we were done with school for the day, Mrs. Crabtree said goodbye, left the room, and Mom walked back in. When they were really little they would run up and give Mom a hug telling me they missed me. It was precious!
Check out the video all about choosing Homeschool Teacher Names:
Thank You for working through the phases of decompressing before homeschooling
We are so glad to partner with you here in the Happy Hive. If you are looking for curriculum coaching or are interested in joining our Homeschool Satellite program you can find information about what we offer HERE.
When you are ready for curriculum, I hope you will consider incorporating some of the easy-to-use activities we offer! Many items can be used for Family Fun Nights, or Friday Fun activities and your kids won’t even realize it’s *curriculum*! You can browse the Happy Hive Homeschooling Shop HERE
If you would like more of my memories, expert homeschool tips, and things to say to the neighbors, and quizzing in-laws when they ask about homeschooling you’ll love our email list!
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I’d love to chat with you each week about the methods I used to organize, schedule, and lesson plan in my homeschool with the hopes it will help you have a happy hive too. In the meantime, “Bee” sure to check out the different methods of homeschooling as well as our 3 easy strategies for burnout.