Homeschool and Travel


Homeschool and Travel, educating your children as you show them the world.

Homeschool and travel, the two go together. Hover over this image to bookmark it to Pinterest.

Homeschool and travel, my two big passions in life. I’m as enthusiastic about the one as I am the other. Homeschool probably doesn’t mean what you think it does. It is not “school at home” we don’t do lessons or distance education. I don’t fill the boys up with the same stuff the schools try to teach. We just learn, in total freedom.

Homeschool is the preferred term in our home state, Queensland, it incorporates unschooling. In other parts of the world Home Education is more commonly used, to separate our style of learning from that employed in schools. Worldschooling is a way of describing any education provided by, or enhanced by, travel and the world.

As the boys get older I find myself updating these old posts. What worked when they were 7 and 5 isn’t what works today. Home education is fluid and adaptable, that’s one of the beauties of it.

Homeschool and travel go together, they have to. After 2 years of homeschool before we left on this trip, I wasn’t at all worried about the kids’ education. I’ve been through the de-schooling process and forgotten everything I was conditioned to think about acquiring knowledge. I have seen that learning happens all day, every day, with little or no need for teaching in a form that most people would recognize. It doesn’t just happen by chance, the parent has to be pro-active in seeking inspiring learning opportunities.

See THIS POST, if you want to know what we picked up in our first year of travel.

Obviously, travel does amazing things for children, helping them along with their self-confidence, resourcefulness, social skills and ability to empathise. Alongside this there is the more concrete learning in geography, history and languages that comes naturally from visiting every country. I say naturally, but there is a lot of parental input in getting this “natural” learning to happen.

Our travels put us in the amazingly fortunate position of being able to take the kids TO the learning. So if they want to learn about the Mayans, we take them to Tikal. Art, we take them to world renowned galleries or to see local artists at work, maybe they can join in or take a class. For music we watch diverse performances, use internet resources and try our hands at different instruments from around the world. My elder child has just been studying the Seven Ancient Wonders through an online course, so he was keen to see the remains of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus at the British Museum and we’re taking him to Turkey for Ephesus. For religion, we visit as many temples, mosques, churches and museums as we can, talk to the locals and see first hand the realities of their faiths. This style of learning is so much more fun than books!

What about science? I was a scientist in my life before kids and we have done a lot of hands on, fun, homeschool science. This will be hard on the road, but I am pretty good at talking about the science in a situation, from frying an egg to the zoological classification of every animal we see. We crammed in a lot of practical science before we left, got ahead of the game. I can’t pack the chemistry sets but opportunities will present themselves while we are away. Recently we’ve got a lot out of London’s fabulous and free museums, including the kids science shows at the Science Museum and the incredible Natural History Museum.

I was a registered homeschooler in Australia, this meant I had to submit my curriculum for approval every year and put a report together 12 months later, complete with work samples. We were approved each year. Once we left Australia this was no longer allowed, nor required, if we return we’ll need to re-register.

I wrote our curriculum in Australia, because I had to, based on the progression of learning, the government curriculum from a few countries and our own interests and needs. I facilitated learning from this curriculum by bring up topics in conversation, showing them books, toys and films about the topics we need to cover and taking them to places where they can learn at source. We also follow the boys’ interests as they crop up.

I would class myself as maybe a partial unschooler, certainly an eclectic homeschooler. I do resort to work books for maths and English, sometimes. That is more to do with me reassuring myself rather than any real need. Lately I’ve been using science work books because my elder son loves science, I find that they are a great way to get him writing.  He also writes and answers questions on online courses ( such as Minecraft Homeschool) and occasionally joins group classes (such as Forest School). Both boys have their own blogs, they write posts, create images and are learning about the technical side of website creation, including HTML, and social media marketing.

The children are now outside mainstream education so we can forget about sitting particular exams at particular times. We are free to progress at our own pace, according to our own needs. Should my boys wish to go on to any further study or university, there are multiple ways they can do this without the standard school certificates. It’s a long established process, generations of kids have gone before.

Homeschool and Travel Resources We Use and Trust

We use the internet and a few books on the road. We can’t be weighed down with a travelling library so once a book has served its purpose we give it away. If it is a work book I date and photograph every page.

Work books

It’s easy to pick up work books around the world, we saw some brilliant ones in Sri Lanka and stocked up in the UK. After much trial and error, we’ve discovered that we prefer the Carol Vorderman series of work books for English (English Made Easy ), Maths (Maths Made Easy) and Science (Science Made Easy) along with the Letts Enchanted English and Mythical Maths series and (Smelly Spelling) books. They come in age appropriate levels and can be found on Amazon UK (click through). For Amazon.com, the US site, you’ll find Carol Vorderman’s books here.

Online Learning

When the boys were tiny, just learning letters and starting to read, they both used Reading Eggs, The Online Phonics Program That Kids Love. They used them for fun, simple, brightly coloured games were their first steps in phonics, you could, of course, use this online course in a much more structured way. Reading Eggs now works for children right through to 11 years old, there have been big changes on the site allowing it to be used for more advanced reading and comprehension.

You can trial Reading Eggs for FREE here.

Learn to Read

We have a subscription to an Australian online learning site, Studyladder (paid), this covers English and Maths and gives us a good idea of where they would be if they were in school. It also has a useful science, music and art section, although these are in no way complete enough to be used in isolation.

You Tube gives us plenty of documentaries and movies to tie in with whatever they’re learning about, along with some great online lessons for kids.

A few online games and learning sites are bookmarked on my computer. We’re big fans of a free online Geography game, Seterra and we’re always discovering apps that are fun and educational such as Duolingo for our Spanish.

As the boys are getting older we’re using Khan Academy (free) more and more. That includes me, I’m studdying art history on Khan, something I never did in school.

We are now also using Minecraft Homeschool as mentioned above.

As the boys get older I can see us using more short online courses, D has enjoyed this last Minecraft one tremendously. I’m on the look-out for more.

I am big fan of audio books for the car, particularly Horrible Histories ( click through to see the range) and children’s e-books for my elder son to read on his Kindle (my younger son now has his own too, they are Travel Essentials for us).

Documentaries, books, museums and the library are my best friends, luckily the kids love them too. The older they get, the more they are getting out of guided tours and audio guides, when they were tiny this was pointless, but now we seek them out. We had a fantastic day long tour in Assisi and recent big successes with the British Museum, Tate modern and National Gallery tours.

 

 

That’s just a quick overview of how we roll, how we cover all bases on the road. If you’re new to taking the responsibility of facilitating your kids’ education, I’d strongly suggest you find other homeschoolers online to talk to. Everybody does this thing differently, there are philosophies and routes that you probably haven’t heard of, it’s about picking the right one for your child and for you. I started blogging because of my involvement with the Australian homeschooling community. I met inspirational and knowledgeable people online and eventually became heavily involved in supporting and encouraging other new homeschoolers. There are plenty of us out there and our numbers are growing. Seek us out, we love to share.

 

You would be amazed how well young kids can learn to read, develop incredible grammar and improve their spelling, just through having what they think is fun. I have one son who adores reading, the other always loved to write but is a natural maths wiz, he has just started reading books solo. They are both learning and improving every day with just a little input from me.

If you would like to read more about how we roll educationally, have a look at the links below.

Homeschool and travel are inextricably linked, if I can help you, I will, gladly, just fire me an email. 

One Year of Travel. How much learning happened?

Homeschool and Travel. How’s it Going?

What is Worldschooling?

What Does A Homeschool Day Look Like?

World Travel Family now has a sister site Homeschool Group Hug, which deals exclusively with Homeschool related topics outside of travel, unfortunately I have very little time to put into it, but it will grow.

 

Comments

  1. Nicole says:

    I would love to travel around the world and let my kids learn naturally you guys are very lucky

    • Thanks for posting a comment Nicole, comments are brilliant, we love comments and every one gets a reply. So cheers! It may look like luck, but it’s not, we’ve put a lot of years of effort into getting our lives set up so that we CAN travel, starting with living in the grottiest flat in the world, no hot water or heating, in a British winter, whilst pregnant, renovating it for money. It was hard work, but it paid off, gave us a good financial starting point. I think anyone can do it if they want it badly enough. It’s all down to priorities and making your dreams the most important thing in your life. I’m struggling right now, I admit, with the thought of selling everything , it’s hard, I’m starting to have doubts. But stay tuned and see if we actually pull this thing off! Your day will come, Nicole, if you want something badly enough.

  2. I homeschooled my daughter for 5 years but she is currently in a private school. We did a LOT of learning by TRAVELING! And, I miss being able to just take off & go! Our biggest “drop everything & go’ trip was almost 2 years ago. My brother called & asked if we wanted to go to Japan in about 10 days. YES!!! It was incredible!!! And, we got back only 2 days before the devestating tsunami.

    • I’d love to go to Japan, Dana, I don’t think it’s going to happen this time, unfortunately, it’s just too expensive and stretching our budget for as long as possible has to be our priority. But maybe, if we get our fill of SE Asia and The Indian Subcontinent we may have enough cash left to head that way. Thanks for visiting and commenting ( twice!). I hope you’ll stick around to follow us, we’re just getting to the exciting bit!

  3. Carra says:

    Brilliant! An only child, I grew up home-schooled globally – along the way I learned to speak six languages; prayed in churches, synagogues, cathedrals, temples, mosques and shrines; made friends that I still have 60 years later; learned to be a world citizen; acquired 3 passports; and went on to be an epidemiologist. My children were educated the same way – now my grands are keeping up the tradition.
    Journey on………………..

  4. Hello:

    Now with online education, committed parents can get a quality education for their children anywhere. My wife and I are both educators who travel the world. She teaches online and I teach/administrate in international schools. I do not want to ever teach in a public school again, especially in the U.S. Take care.

    • Thanks Curtis, I think we’re doing an exceptional job of educating these kids with very little in the way of online programmes, I really don’t think they’re necessary. After two years of homeschooling before we started travelling, I could see how the learning was happening, worksheets and online repetition weren’t helping at all. But some kids enjoy them, I know. We just have Studyladder now as a sort of back up, just something to do now and then if we’ve bored.

  5. While in travel mode are there any blog posts from the children’s point of view? Like what they enjoy, what they don’t, or what they think they are learning/ have learnt? etc

    • Not really Gee, mostly because they don’t give you the same answer twice! I asked them what they’d learned once because another blogger ( Heidi at Wagoners Abroad) wanted to interview them for a series on travelling children. They said “nothing”. You won’t get much useful information out of them I’m afraid, they’re not interested in vocalising that sort of thing. I know what they’re learning, they don’t realise. They’re having the best fun!

  6. Julie Rayner says:

    We are planning on travelling Europe with our two boys as soon as possible, got a few things to sort out here in NZ 1st, but hoping to leave here by mid-May. So excited and scared it’s not funny, our budget isn’t much at all, we will have to work as we travel…but still the budget is low but that isn’t going to stop us, i think showing our boys that by us having them hasn’t stopped us living our dream will be one of the best lessons they will learn..I’m actually looking forward to home schooling..I know it will be hard, but it will be worth it.

  7. Symone Black says:

    Hi There

    I’m really interested in what you are doing, as my family and I will soon be doing the same thing. We are pulling up stumps in 12 months time and heading to Europe. I have never homeschooled before, but know we will be fine for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I have plenty of friends and family that homeschool and see that they are all going along great, and secondly, because I know from experience that learning while travelling almost happens without trying (having said that, I will try!) We are in contact with friends of friends in Spain and Portugal, all of which say that is illegal in those countries to teach your children from home. Do you know if because our children are technically being educated through the QLD system that they are actually legal? Any advice is very welcome. Thank you!

    • QLD like you to register with a school of distance Education if you will be away long term. If you will be away for reporting time, you can’t get your registration in, you need that reporting pack that they send out to resubmit. If you are Australian and registered with QLD HEU you’re fine. But, I don’t think it’s illegal in Spain or Portugal, I’ve never heard that before, only Germany, Croatia and Sweden. But I haven’t checked. As you won’t be a resident, I really wouldn’t worry, you’re Australian. Send me an email if you need any more help with registration, I’m QLD too and an old hand at this stuff.

  8. Jen Reyneri (@jenreyneri) says:

    I love finding your site and a fellow homeschool on the go family! We lived almost a year abroad with a baby in tow in 2004, and still travel as much as we are able! (Thus, my launching the homeschool/ travel podcast Destination: Inspiration) Now, we host other travelers at our cottage :)
    I’d love to have you as a guest on the show!

  9. Kami Anderson says:

    I love this! I have been contemplating teaching my four kids through travel for while. This information is helping me sort out how to best plan for this!

  10. Meilan says:

    Hi Alyson!
    First of all I would like to say I love your website! We’re looking into hitting the road next year, and this website has been an inspiration. Thank you for that!

    We’re preparing our own website (in Dutch), so I might fire some questions at you later about that.

    Just a few things I wonder now.
    Have you sold your house in Australia? I think renting ours out would be such a hassle, and I’d rather just get rid of it. My husband on the other hand would feel better holding on to it. He would feel more secure I guess. Any thoughts on the matter?

    Our daughter would be 6 when we leave. She goes to school now, and I would be home schooling her while traveling. It seems a difficult age to start off, but the perfect age altogether, if you know what I mean. How will home schooling turn out at that age?

    Thanks for everything and keep up the good work! Maybe we can meet up for a play date somewhere in the world next year :-)

  11. Jenna says:

    Hi there.. I live in Cairns am loving reading your articles!! I am planning to take my daughter travelling next year for at least 4months (april-july approx). She will turn 14yrs old early 2015 and be in grade 9. Am not sure what the legal ramifications are for taking her out of school for this period and would appreciate any advice? We will be going through a bit of Asia before spending most of time in Europe. I am entilted to a British passport which will organise prior to help with travel throughout Europe and would like to stay open to idea of staying longer (months!) in Scotland (where family are) at the end. Would daughter be able to go to school in Scotland?

    • You’d have to check with the school first, see if they will allow you to take her travelling ( they should!). If they won’t you’ll have to un enroll her and send off a Homeschool application to the HEU. It’s easy done.My applications are on our other site Homeschool Group Hug. Get in touch if you get stuck Jenna and good luck

  12. Lisa-Marie says:

    Hi,
    I am Canadian, but I have a friend from Australia with a child that will be 4 in September. She and her son would like to stay here for a year, but she doesn’t want to keep him from daycare or school for that long. I was wondering how we could arrange something to either home school him or get him registered in one of the schools here. She has no experience in homeschooling and hasn’t finished school herself. She dropped out when she was a teenager. So I doubt she would be able to register as a homeschooling mother. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
    P.S.: She lives in NSW

    • If she’ll be in Canada for a year the only way I know is to register with distance education in Australia ( which isn’t really homeschooling, it’s school). But at 4, he’s too young, in QLD kids don’t officially have to start school until year 1, which can be as old as 6 and a half. I’m not familiar with NSW school starting ages, but if they are the same, he’s still a preschooler and does not need to be in formal education. NSW regulations are the tightest in Australia, there is a lot of paperwork and reporting, but even so, there is nothing to stop her registering. She just needs to be able to keep up with the paperwork.If she’s out of the country she’s not bound by Australian regulations. But can she get a visa for Canada for a year?

      • Lisa-Marie says:

        She can come 6 months a year – but since as soon as the year switches she can stay another 6 months, she could stay a year if she comes in June. If she comes any time during a year before June she can stay 6 months.
        She says he can start preschool next year, since he turns 4 in September. Which doesn’t make any sense to me at all. So basically she can’t do it. Or rather won’t do it, because of all the paperwork.

  13. Love this! Everything about it. It sounds like Australia is just about as easy as Texas for homeschooling (we don’t have to report at all), but how do you take what you have learned from travel and turn it into a report?

    • I don’t have to now Jessica, once we left Australia we weren’t their problem. In the UK there are no restrictions and we’re British, so we go with that. But back then I’d just waffle on about learning, about religion, climate, food production….whatever we’d encountered. It looks really impressive on paper.

  14. Tania says:

    Alyson, I can’t tell you how amazed I am to find a site like this just at the time when my husband and I are teetering between continuing on with our “normal” lives and going on a journey just like the one you’ve described! How to educate the kids while doing this was a bit of a obstacle, but I’ll be reading your blog very closely and will probably be pestering you with questions from now on! Another “obstacle” we can see is the Visas. Did you travel on holiday Visas only, or do I vaguely remember your husband working from time to time? Did you sort out the Visas as you went along? If we did this trip I think we’d like the option of being able to work if it came up. Any advice is of course appreciated! Congratulations to you and your husband for being brave enough to start a journey like this, it takes a lot of guts!

    • Hi Tania, we have British and Australian passports, so he can work anywhere in Europe and is currently supporting us by working in London. This is the only time he’s worked, I work on the blogs. We just get normal tourist visas, sometimes ( as in Laos) we extended them for a few weeks more. Very easy to do when you’re in the country. If you need visas for certain countries, China, Russia, maybe a few others, check the regulations, some need you to get the visa in your own country, but that;s rare. Most countries give visa on arrival.

  15. I learned a lot of things about homeschooling while traveling after reading your article. I traveled all the time for work and i let my kids stay with there grandparents. I think i’m gonna take my kids with me next time.

  16. Karin says:

    My husband and I just quit our jobs and are taking our kids travelling. We are in Costa Rica now and in two months will be riding tandems from Croatia to Czech over 4-5 months.
    Since it is so new, I am struggling with the homeschooling (especially motivating) curriculum. I was considering investing in a curriculum where there is a mentor involved to help us with the language arts/writing aspect. My husband and I are both science minded as with our professions. What do you think about that just to help my kids with accountability and motivation? Also, how did you get your kids to enjoy reading when they don’t (would rather play video games in their free time). And lastly, I was wondering if there is a type of curriculum that caters to the new world technologies (renewable energy, computer-focus, gardening, economics, etc.) and brushes over/brief summaries of the wars/history.

    • Karin, for 4-5 months I would do precisely nothing! It’s a tiny amount of time. When computers aren’t available, they read, you can’t make a child enjoy reading, but my eldest adores it and often chooses his book over anything else. At bedtime they read, on buses and trains and in cars. D also reads at meal times, which kinda bugs me, but it keeps him happy. We don’t have hand held devices, so laptops are easy to escape. I have never used any sort of bought curriculum, sorry.

  17. Bridget says:

    It was great to come across this page as only two days ago did my husband and i have this discussion. We have always felt that kids can learn more by Travelling. We just feel that if we don’t do it in the next year or so we will never do it. My boys are 6years old and 2 years old. We where looking at the next 1year or 2 giving us enough time to get everything together and do our research properly and have enough funds to keep us going. My husband has his own business so we are able to be anywhere in the world and he can still work. With regards to home schooling i have no idea where to start. We live in Cape town, South Africa. Where do i start? As i don’t want the home schooling be a problem when the kids need to go back to school. I am in the process of doing all my research, but we looking at travelling around Australia, new zealand, thailand, bali, indondesia, vietnam, then around Europe. Then in a camper van around the States. So excited to start this journey with my husband and boys.

  18. Christina Liu says:

    I’m so excited to have found this site! I’ve just started reading it and have barely scratched the surface. This is exactly the kind of life I am trying to show my husband is possible for our family. Our daughter is 1 and we are saving every cent possible so we can retire in a few year and see the world with her (we are in our mid 30’s and already travel as much as possible). I’m nervous about homeschooling. I don’t have any examples of it in my life and I am afraid that I will fail and ruin my daughter’s prospects in life. Hopefully, by educating myself on how it’s done I can overcome that fear enough to do it! Perhaps it’s already on the site and I will find it as i read on, but can you point me to resources that may address my concerns? Thanks

  19. Love the info on this website. My hubby and I with our 10yr old son are preparing to leave California next year around June to travel the world for a year. One of my biggest concerns is the schooling part. I don’t want to fail my child, i’m having a hard time finding specifics on road school. Everything out there is homeschooling at home where theres a lot of text books and projects and touching base every 20 days with a teacher. We wont be able to carry textbooks or check in unless we are online. My son will be responsible to carry his own laptor and a workbook or two with all his other things in his backpack. When we return to the states he will mainstream back into public school, so I want to make sure he’s fully ready and I didnt miss anything.. Looking for any ideas, websites, advice to help me plan for his success.

  20. Hi all! My husband and two boys (10 years and just-about-to-turn 6 years old) are 3 months into our travel adventure, we started in Singapore, and we’ve worked our way through Malaysia, Cambodia and now Vietnam (dictated by Visa length and the weather!). We both had the same concerns that all of you have raised about educating our kids. Never mind that we’re packing everything up, selling the house and car and leaving everything behind, what about the school???!!! Well, I can safely say that you WILL NOT be endangering the future of your kids by taking them out of the “school system” for a year or two. If anything, you’re making them global citizens that will never lose that bit of worldly wisdom and confidence (even if they seem a bit young now).

    We come from the State of Victoria in Australia, where the approach to education appears to be a tad different to that of Queensland (where Alyson hails from). I was told that if we sell the house and therefore are not residents of Victoria then we are no longer the responsibility of the Education Department of Victoria. So basically we can take our kids out of the country and no one would know the difference! After getting over the shock, we were left wondering now what? We don’t have to report to anyone, this means we can teach our kids how we want to, but how are we going to know what they need to know to stay “current”?

    We ended up enrolling in the Distance Education Centre of Victoria. I have no idea if a similar school is offered in other countries, but if it is I would strongly recommend that you use it. It follows the Australian curriculum, and all of the work is provided in booklets split into 2 week modules. I initially freaked when I saw how much work was to be done, and how many hours per day was recommended (4-5 hours), but the teachers are brilliant and understand the different scenarios of people who use this school. They confirmed that the kids are getting so much education in just travelling, and that the only thing to really stay on top of is the Maths and English.

    If this isn’t an option, just stick with the principle of Maths and English. Look at the curriculum requirements of your State/Country (which should be available online and/or via the Education Department), particularly at what benchmarks your kids should be reaching by the end of the school year. You’ll probably find that your kids will surpass any of these benchmarks since they are getting one-on-one tutoring with you! Subjects like geography, history and art will get picked up as you travel. Of course there are lot of websites (Mathletics and Reading Eggs are great) to help out.

    You will not fail your kids, you’re giving them such a wonderful opportunity. It’ll work!

    Sorry to blab on a bit, I’m more than happy to help out if there are any more questions!

    • Victoria has the easiest Homeschool regulations in Australia Tania. But I wonder why you signed up for distance education when you didn’t have to? If you felt the need to register, homeschooling is far less restrictive, but as you’re out of the country you didn’t need to sign up for anything. Could you share your decision making for us? Cheers.

  21. Tania says:

    Hi again,

    I originally was pushing for the homeschooling, as I thought what an opportunity to get away from the aspects of the system that we didn’t like! My husband was unsure about doing that though, partly because of not knowing where to start with working out our own “curriculum” but also because he felt more comfortable about having a record (in the form of reports against AUSVELS requirements) for if/when we ever go back into the mainstream schooling. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I liked the idea, but in the interest of compromise we said we’d give it a try for 6 months and if it wasn’t working then we’d do our own thing. Even the teachers at the Distance Education Center said that! After doing this for 4 months now (we started schooling before travelling) I think it has worked out for the best. We’ve found that a combination of the provided school work with our own activities (which we’ve found have presented themselves in all sorts of forms as we’ve travelled around) has worked the best. There is the comfort in knowing that the kids are getting the levels of teaching they need for their grades, but there is also the control we have on when we do schoolwork, what we do, and the one-on-one tutoring that is priceless. The school is extremely flexible on when the work can be sent through, the only major deadline is half-year and full-year report writing time. No pressure on having to send things back every fortnight! We haven’t found it restrictive at all, we have a morning school session for 2-3 hours, then the afternoon is free.

    Once again I’ve blabbed! I hope this has helped to clarify things. : )

  22. beverly bell says:

    Hi I live 6 months in new York and 6 months in Jamaica. I have a 15 year old grandson and I want to find out if I enrolled him in home school on line can he do his lessons from new York and Jamaica as I go there from Nov to may.

  23. My daughter homeschooled and also received two simultaneous undergrad degrees, a BS in music performance (French horn) and the second, a BA in liberal arts. She is now in the middle of a doctoral degree in musicology at NYU. She received a full ride scholarship to NYU for this program. As a teen she has traveled extensively to compete in world cups as a fencer. I stayed home and worked to support this global child. She speaks three languages and is learning two more currently. Now that she is on her own, I do get opportunities to meet up with her and travel together. I have wonderful times with her when we travel together..

Leave a Reply

Hi there! Want to visit our travel equipment page next?

Travel Store