Travelling the World with your kids: Vol. 3 – Homeschooling


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I am asked on a regular basis… What about school?

Most people are surprised when I seem relaxed about it, but then I’ve had time to get my head around the idea on how to approach it. The answer in short is that we will be homeschooling the boys. I’ve heard the term ‘world schooling’ used, but that’s just for the trendy mum and dads!

What is homeschooling?

Given that the kids are only 7 and 9 years old, this means that we will need to provide them with full-time education, even during our travels. However, full-time is not defined by the IOM Government and is up for interpretation, but you MUST provide clear details on how you plan to education your child(ren).We believe that travelling will provide them with a lot of their learning, and be more effective than reading a book. They will absorb information about cultures, architecture, currency, problem solving, geography, history, without us having to put pen and paper in front of them.We will be using the world around us to help teach the boys so that they learn naturally and in their own way through some of the following:Numeracy – currency, exchange rates, shopping & change, timetables, data, statistics (countries), additions, subtractions, maps & co-ordinates…Literacy – postcards, blog posts, journals, spellings, reading, languages, reading signs/directionsGuided Reading – kindles, reading regularly & comprehensionScience – mostly through museums & play,  geology in different countries (New Zealand will be amazing for this one!), star gazing, moon phases, rain-forests, environmental changes & zoos.Not to mention their Dad will bore them with his scientific facts constantly!

What about school?

I, more than Keith, was concerned about approaching their school. Not least because kids don’t always listen to their parents!We had assumed there would be a number of ‘hoops’ we’d need to jump through before our trip was approved. We therefore made it a priority to arrange a meeting with school to get the ball rolling. We first met with them 2 years ago, so we had time to put the required measures in place.We aren’t educators by profession, so the question we needed answering was ‘What would we actually have to do?’We thought we may need to prove our competence, but the reality was not what we expected.The answer was…fill in a form!Surely it couldn’t be that easy? Our meeting with the boys’ Head Teacher was supportive, and we all agreed that it would be an amazing opportunity. The result? We did indeed just need to contact the Department of Education & Children to advise them that we would be home schooling.What?! No black list, no public lashes and no lecture on the benefits of school education?! Woo-hoo!!

So how do you home-school?

Having worked as an Education Support Officer in a primary school I saw first-hand how challenging teaching was. We are under no illusion that taking on the role of ‘educator’ for our children will be easy.We intend to keep the structure fairly relaxed, but it won’t take away from the fact that the boys need to keep up their learning while travelling.In all honesty, it would have been nice to have been given some guidance or direction, but I suppose this leaves it open to our own interpretation. I did expect to be given a checklist of sorts to ensure we were on the right track, but unfortunately we are on our own.In fact I’m actually looking forward to learning with them as we:

  • Learn about wildlife and the environment in the forests of Borneo
  • Source local ingredients and cook in the hot kitchens around South East Asia
  • Join in local communities to understand cultures AND how to manage without the internet!
  • Attend and learn at a local school in Nepal
  • Learn about fragility of coral eco-systems and marine pollution while snorkelling through the tropical blue waters!

Hours spent learning?

In short, we don’t know, but we do know that one day will never be the same as another.Having done some number crunching on our own, we plan to teach them on a structured 1:1 basis for approx. 3-5 hours per week. 3-5 hours per week doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that they’ll never get school holidays and their learning will be happening through their day-to-day travels, this may actually be too much!I can imagine that some weeks, we may find that only limited structured learning happens. As I mentioned before, they won’t have weekend breaks, they won’t have school holidays and they won’t be spending weeks rehearsing for their Christmas plays & assemblies. Our priority is to ensure our boys maintain their education and won’t struggle when they rejoin school education.

Teaching

The boys originally thought a year off school would be a breeze, until they realised who their new teachers were going to be – unlucky!The plan is that we will teach one each. Keith will teach Ethan & his ever increasing inquisitiveness and I will teach Jasper with his need for constant prodding to keep him on target! Same family, but different learners.

What to take

As much as it pains us, it makes sense that the boys will use their tablet as their main learning device. So much for escaping modern technology! Although, I’m not too concerned as they understand that there are boundaries and balances.Our other issue is weight. As we are travelling with only 2 backpacks (more on this later!), we don’t plan on taking much more. We will pack a pencil case containing the basic essentials, plus a notepad as we need to maintain their handwriting.The boys will also have a travel journal each and we will be encouraging them to write about their journey as well as contributing to our blog.

Our list of Resources

The internet is full of resources, some of them free and some not. We have researched and read other family travel blogs, tested a few apps and decided on these:

  • IXL – for the primary subjects, Maths & English. This app follows the national curriculum.
  • Hit the button – For times table, multiplication & division.
  • BBC Bitesize – this website covers all subjects, it’s free and was recommended to us by the boys school.
  • Scratch – great programming and provides a method for problem solving.
  • Libby – offers you access to Library books using their Kind Fires.
  • National Geographic – Geography and History, they have a teaching resources section which is very detailed.
  • Duolingo – for language development.

For more detailed information about the applications, costs & usage follow our blog here.

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