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.
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.
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.
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.
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.