What is deschooling? According to wikipedia.com, "In a practical context, it refers to the mental process a person goes through after being removed from a formal schooling environment, when the "school mindset" is eroded over time. Deschooling may refer to the time period it takes for children removed from school to adjust to learning in an unstructured environment. Families who have taken their children out of school to homeschool often find their children need a period of adjustment - learning to live without the reinforcement of grading and regimented learning. It is typically used to describe children who have been removed from school for the purpose of self-directed homeschooling, but technically applies any person leaving school, either by dropping out or graduating. The term is used by some as a synonym for unschooling, but others make a clear distinction."
In the radical unschooling world deschooling is "the mental process a person goes through after being removed from a formal schooling environment.". It is not a synonym for unschooling.
This deschooling process can take varying amounts of time depending on each individual. Often, parents of radically unschooled children find they themselves are continually deschooling. Those who choose never to send their children to school at all are often not quite radically unschooling at first. Initially they only apply unschooling to the educational aspect of their and their child's life. Since living and learning are not naturally compartmentalized into segments but instead happen all together in a myriad of connections unique to each person, these parents often find, over time, they are unable to only unschool education. They identify the need to also unschool the rest of their lives, and in doing so, become whole life or radical unschoolers. They go through the process of deschooling media, food, bed time, etc. It often feels unnatural to have arbitrary rules about meals, rest or media when they are not imposing rules related to education. Why trust your child to educate himself when you are not trusting him to know when he is hungry, tired or thirsty? Why trust your child will learn to read without being taught when you are not trusting he knows which food his body needs, wants, feels best with?
There is a great deal of faith, trust, love and respect involved in deschooling one's self so that one may radically unschool one's child. One must have faith in their ability to do this, faith that their children are learning all the time, in many different ways, often unseen ways, not measurable by society's standardized tests. Parents must trust one another and above all trust their children to follow their passions. What may look like an obsession with World of Warcraft is indeed learning. Parents need to respect their children. The DO know what they want, what they are passionate about. They may not be able to couch their learning in vocabulary usually used to speak about education, but do not doubt that they are learning, all the time, everywhere, about many different things at once.
Deschooling can be a difficult process to go alone. Here in Manchester there are many resources available to help parents along their journey of radical unschooling living. L-E-A-P is one of the local unschooling groups. Manchester Home Schoolers also has a number of unschoolers within their ranks who are happy to talk with parents newly deschooling. Some of the Manchester Home Schoolers have adult children who have always been unschooled! The group meets at the Manchester Barnes and Noble the third Sunday of each month from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Manchester public library's downtown branch has books by John Holt which can be extremely helpful, such as Teach Your Own.