Learning without boundaries: Deschooling ourselves as parents

So often we talk about deschooling our children, but what can deschooling look like for parents, and why is it necessary when beginning homeschooling? Crystal Wiley shares her journey.

By Crystal Wiley

This article was originally featured on Simple + Free and has been republished with permission.

When we began homeschooling almost two years ago, I never would have guessed how much I’d learn about my children, my husband, my family, my community and myself as a result…

To start, for us, homeschooling meant completely deschooling ourselves as parents.

It means removing all the negative thoughts and emotions we’ve carried around with us regarding the conventional schooling we received. This included both my husband and I.

Usually deschooling means throwing everything out the door and starting over.

This was true for our family, but deschooling also meant revisiting how I specifically felt as a child pushed through class after class in which I had no desire in attending.

We have to understand we as a species never truly retains information gathered due to force or coercion from teachers, no matter how well-intentioned they are.

For it wasn’t until midway through my college experience I realised what I enjoyed.

Photo: Crystal Wiley

The passion I have to offer my kids an interest-led learning environment flows in waves as I continue to grapple with a slew of mixed emotions. I feel like I could have spent a more significant chunk of my young life learning what I was passionate about, instead of sitting for hours and hours at a desk doing my best to stay awake in the midst of uninspiring information.

It could have been inspiring if it was something I was interested in, of course.

I’m convinced you do not need to be a philosopher or a scientist to understand a few simple truths...

Real learning happens when someone is passionate and open-minded.

Real learning happens when someone has time to explore.

Real learning happens when you feel safe and loved, not exposed and judged.

Real learning happens when you have the ability to go deeper into an idea and not be told: “we’ve come to the end of this idea and now we’re moving on to the next.”

Real learning needs no boundaries.

How do I refer to “real learning?” To me, it simply means knowledge well-kept, not discarded shortly after a test.

Additionally, I aspire to offer my children the conviction to experience the joy of critical thinking and deep exploration of parts of the world they’re interested in without society’s confines and push and pull by homeschooling… something I struggled with immensely.

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And since no one knows what our future holds, I feel our children innately do – they were built that way. They were created in God’s image which means they intuitively know how they’re supposed to fit into the community. They know what their bodies need to do. They know what they need to learn. They know, planted like little seeds, how they’re supposed to spend the majority, if not all of their time here on Earth.

Much like a flower knows exactly how to grow, given the correct environment.

Our kids may not express their desires verbally but instead subconsciously, if they listen to their heart – given the opportunity to listen to that still, small voice whispering in their ear what path to take – they’ll follow it unceasingly.

Now, if your children attend a traditional school this article is not an attempt to shame you as a parent. I know many homeschool families who shift in and out of schools as well, so this is in no way directed to those who choose a different path. In fact, it’s possible to offer your children the opportunity to follow their dreams, it will just look much different for you considering your time with them is much more limited. Please never doubt your abilities or intentions as a parent – for this unshakeable persistence to be a better parent is at the core unconditionally loving your children!

Regardless, a few things in our future are certain whether your kids attend a traditional school or not. Our children will need to know how to be:

1) Adaptable – our world and the information in it changes constantly. We have to learn to adapt.

2) Limitless – knowing they have the power to make a difference in our vast world.

3) Self-Empowering – not allowing friends or society to tell them they are doing it wrong.

4) In Touch – with who they are as a human being and who God created them to be.

5) Steadfast – never giving up because too many people in life they know will do just that.

For me, it took a good 25-plus years to realise what I was called to do. And I’m still learning every day alongside my kids how good it feels to follow my dreams and surrender to the glorious unknown.

"The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know." // Albert Einstein

And it took me having children to realise my offspring deserve a chance to find for themselves exactly what they’re meant to do early on in life and then given the encouragement, resources and environments to pursue these ideas.

No gold stars, prodding or pushing or bribing necessary.

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"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution." – ALBERT EINSTEIN

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Crystal Wiley​​​

Blogger at Simple + Free

Crystal Wiley is wife to an exceptionally gifted and patient husband with whom she's owned and sold several companies, and a mother to two adventure-seeking children in the Pacific Northwest of America. She loves simplifying through minimalism and slowing down to enjoy each season in life all while focusing on God's big plans for her family's eclectic, interest-led homeschool. Depending on the day, you can find her hiking, snowboarding, camping, mountain biking, reading a plethora of books (to herself and her children) or writing about whatever strikes her heart.

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