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Decompression Time After School Attendance Described

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Decompression Time After School Attendance Described

By Linda Dobson

decompression time after school attendanceTo decompress means “to relieve of pressure,” and no other term could better describe what homeschooling parents have found to be a saving grace for the child coming to intellectual and social freedom from schooling. Pressure created by school attendance comes from many directions and may be subtle or blatant. Often children aren’t even aware that the pressure exists, because they hardly remember anything different, may not even understand what has happened to them, and may have trouble coping without the pressure.It’s frighteningly similar to the way addiction to nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs sneaks up on people.

The Need for Decompression Time After School Attendance

Because the decompression process is relatively new – and such a personal one, to boot – our society has more understanding of the withdrawal process of a heroine addict than of the adjustments necessary to withdraw from schooling. It’s not easy to watch your child go through the process, so I share Jill Meyer’s experience to help you see that decompression doesn’t last forever and that once you reach the other side, you’ll be happy you made the effort.

Jill’s seven-year-old daughter, Olivia, attended school, in Denver, only until April of first grade. Jill recognized the familiar “honeymoon” stage of coming home. “She was so pleased to be out of school, which had become a trial of continual worksheets and coloring in, that she was agreeable to anything. She wanted to sit down and ‘do school’ and worred about ‘falling behind.’ She expected me to tell her what to do and when,” Jill says.

Jill realized that other homeschooling parents she had met, themselves in need of a bit of “deschooling,” felt that a similar response from their children validated their decision to homeschool and led to much initial excitement. “For the whole year that I agonized about taking Olivia out of school, I was also ‘deschooling’ myself by reading everything about homeschooling that I could get my hands on, so I felt prepared for anything,” Jill explains. “I was even disappointed to find Olivia so attached to the school model of living, but at least I was prepared to observe how things would change.”

The “honeymoon” lasted just a few short weeks. Olivia then wanted to lie around and imagine walking on the ceiling. She wanted to in-line skate. Anything but schoolwork.

“It seemed she expected me to order her around,” says Jill, “but at the same time was ready to rebel against it. Since I didn’t do any ordering, this reaction eventually went away. I can’t help but think this ambivalent response is directly created in the school atmosphere and comes from never being able to determine one’s own fate there.”

See also “Homeschooling May Be a Lot Cheaper Than You Think

Formerly one of the great readers in her class, Olivia didn’t crack open a book for three months. Having prepared herself for this eventuality, Jill put her trust in the decompression from school process and accepted it. In the meantime, Jill observed that Olivia made strides in ridding herself of negative scoial behaviors learned in school, only to fall back into them with a vengeance.

“It seemed as if she was losing her compass,” says Jill. “She wanted to know what all the kids were wanting and liking. She was obsessed with collecting Beanie Babies and wanted to impress her old school friends by dressing like a Spice Girl. She started teasing her brother more and almost went out of her way to create conflict with us, her parents.”

At the same time, though, Olivia could be clingy and unsure of herself, a sign of the emotional impact of schooling. “School has told her who to be, and now she didn’t know who to be anymore. She had to find out for herself,” says Jill. This led to reaction swings as the tough shell Olivia had worn for school purposes cracked. “She got weepy and more easily hurt,” Jill explains. Fortunately this state was also temporary, as Jill notices her daughter now feels safer to express herself when feelings come, instead of bottling them up only to vent at a later time.

Decompression Time After School Attendance Runs Its Course

“Gradually, gradually, I saw Olivia return to the child she was before she went to school,” says a happy Jill. “She began to regain her sparkle, curiosity, and own opinions. She started picking up books again, but I worried at first, because they seemed too young, like the Beanie Baby cult thing. She got cuddly with stuffed animals and played in a way I thought was young for her age. I really think she was catching up on some emotional stages that she had missed while she was in school.”

Jill figures it took about a year for Olivia to find herself completely and for the decompression period to work its magic. She can’t say with certainty there was any one point at which major changes took place. Rather, Jill observed “a long journey of small shifts in perception and behavior. Olivia lost a sort of jadedness, a desire to manipulate, and avoidance of getting involved. Now she wants to get involved and seek out her own learning. Her responses to friends, learning, and disappointments seem more genuine and heartfelt. I’m very proud of her when she can determine on her own the value that some information has, weight it for its own merits and in comparison to what she has learned elsewhere, rather than just taking information in indiscriminately, only to forget it later.”

Adapted from The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start by Linda Dobson



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One Response to “Decompression Time After School Attendance Described”

  1. Belinda says:

    rather than decompression – I think you are describing a child who was lost because she suddenly found herself with no boundaries and she was searching to find where the boundaries are. All children need boundaries! They like routine. Yes school instils ridiculous routines which all homeschoolers eradicate, but they still need a routine and they need boundaries – particularly on their behaviour. I don’t understand why you’d stand back and allow her to bully her brother until she realised it was wrong and moved on of her own accord.

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