Homeschooling and traveling, two wonderful freedoms in life. We are one of a large and growing crowd of homeschooling traveling families, we’ve been on the road 4 years but we homeschooled, with registration, in Australia for years before that. These days we homeschool overseas, all around the world, full time under the UK system. Homeschool probably doesn’t mean what you think it does. It is not “school at home” we don’t do lessons or distance education. We don’t fill the kids up with the same stuff the schools try to teach. We just learn, in total freedom. This is how we homeschool as we travel. We’ve been educating outside school for a long time now, my two are 13 and 11, it’s working out great. This is our story and a post to help you start your own.
Homeschooling and Traveling. Homeschooling While Traveling the World. We can help you with:
- How to homeschool
- Why homeschooling offers such great advantages
- Are there any disadvantages?
- Will the children miss out on being in a group environment
- What are the differences between unschooling, world schooling and homeschooling
- What is deschooling
- What gear, equipment, books, resources and online learning programs you will need on the road
- The legalities of homeschooling around the world, including registration, or not
- How to find, facilitate and promote education through life and through destinations.
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The Advantages of Homeschooling
- You are free to travel, you are free to live your life your way.
- Your family spends more time together and bonds are tighter.
- Education is tailored to the child’s interests and progress is at the child’s speed.
- Education fits around your life, your life doesn’t have to fit around education.
- 1 on 1 help and support, no being lost in a crowd of kids.
- Physical freedom for the child to run, jump, climb and play. Goodby desks.
- Eat when they’re hungry, go to the bathroom when they need to, sleep and get up according to individual need.
What’s in a Name? Homeschool, Unschool, World School?
Homeschool is the preferred term in our home state, Queensland Australia, it incorporates unschooling. In the UK the term 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, it’s a popular term amongst traveling homeschoolers. Unschooling is a complete rejection of the school system, but does not imply un-educating, good unschooling is very proactive.
- Find out what is world schooling here.
- Read our Ultimate Guide to World Schooling Here. Including resources and destination ideas
We’ve tried them all and found what works for us. As the boys get older their education evolves, what worked for 6 and 4 isn’t what works today for tweens and teens. Home education is fluid and adaptable and that’s one of the great beauties of it.
We homeschool in part because we care deeply about education, I want them to get a good one. That proper education doesn’t necessarily include exams or university. It’s about them having the tools they need to make life choices, to know what they want to do and be able to go for it.
We Were Homeschooling Long Before We Started Travelling. About Us.
Homeschooling and traveling go together, they have to, but we’d already chosen that path before we even thought of returning to the travel we loved.
After 2 years of homeschooling before we left on this trip, I wasn’t at all worried about the kids’ education. I’d been through the de-schooling process ( What is deschooling?). This is the term used for forgetting everything you’ve been conditioned to think about acquiring knowledge. Learning happens all day, every day, it doesn’t come from teachers, text books, tests and exams. But that said, it doesn’t just happen by chance, the parent has to be pro-active in seeking inspiring learning opportunities.
The Legality of Homeschooling on The Road
You need to check this out for yourself, but I can tell you what I know of Australia and the UK
I was a registered homeschooler in Queensland Australia, 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.
If you’d like to see examples of Queensland applications, reports and homeschool curriculums, they are on our other website, Homeschool Group Hug. Regulations vary enormously between Australian states. Your decision to homeschool or withdraw your child from school is nothing to do with the school, they cannot stop you and you do not need to ask permission, you will need to register in some way with your state’s homeschooling body.
One of the wonderful things about the UK is that no homeschool registration, reports or checks are legally required under the British system. ( visit this site to find out about home education in the UK)
You’ll need to check regulations in your home country or state, but it’s important to remember that if your kids are un-enrolled from school, they cannot be truant.
In a handful of countries, homeschooling is illegal, you can find that list here. My understanding is that these laws only apply to residents and citizens, but check for yourself.
How Travel Enhances an Education.
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. See this post on education through travel, if you want an idea of what we picked up in our first year of travel.
Our travels put us in the amazingly fortunate position of being able to take the kids TO the learning. So, for example, if they want to learn about the Mayans, we take them to Tikal.
- For 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.
- History is all around us, you can touch it. 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. Imagine finding out about Pol Pot and the Vietnam war through being there, on the spot. Don’t you think that’s better than a book?
- 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. We observe their practices, respect them and sometimes join in. 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 at home using various kits and the things we have around us. This is harder on the road, we don’t carry the circuits, chemistry and magnets kits, 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. Look for museums with hands on learning opportunities such as London’s fabulous and free kids science shows at the Science Museum and the incredible Natural History Museum. Zoos are great for young scientists too. These days my boys take online science courses to supplement this natural learning.
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Curriculum and Record Keeping and Exams
In Australia I had to write our curriculum every year and get it approved. It was 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 could learn at source. We also followed the boys’ interests as they cropped up. We have never bought or needed any sort of “boxed curriculum”. On the road we consider the UK curriculum, I know what’s on there and we cover it in our own way.
I would class myself as maybe a partial unschooler, certainly an eclectic homeschooler. I’ve always employed some work books for maths and English, but in a very casual way. That is more to do with me reassuring myself rather than any real need. Lately I’ve been using more work books as a response to their needs, I find they are a great way to get the boys writing, and mixing it up with some online courses.
Children outside mainstream education can forget about sitting particular exams at particular times. They are free to progress at their own pace, according to their 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. You can find out how homeschooled children can go on to tertiary education in Australia here.
I think it’s important to keep records in the form of a journal, photographs, spread sheets or work samples. You need to be able to see and show that a quality education is actually happening. Keeping records will help you reassure yourself.
Educational Resources We Use as We Travel.
The educational resources we use as we travel include:
- Workbooks. See below.
- Online educational programs such as Reading Eggs and IXL maths.
- YouTube has plenty of documentaries and movies to tie in with whatever they’re learning about, along with some great online lessons for kids.
- Khan Academy (FREE) We use it more and more as they get older. That includes me, I’m studying art history on Khan, something I never did in school.
- Minecraft Homeschool ( paid, about $20/ term) (click through to read more about this cool resource). They not only learn the finer points of redstone construction, they can study science, history, geograpy, all the usual subjects , in a Minecraft environment AND answer questions and submit work.
- Local classes and courses whenever we can, including cooking, high diving and stone carving this year.
- Blogging. Kids can write posts, create images and learning about the technical side of website creation, including HTML, graphic design and social media marketing. Find out how to start a free blog for them here. They’re learning a trade that could provide them with an income long before they leave school, my younger child is blog-mad and now has a professional self-hosted site. If you want to create a ” real” money making blog, you need this post.
- Group classes (such as Forest School). Obviously, they get to take part in all sorts of sports and activities, from kayaking to rock climbing, to high diving no worries about PE.
- Attractions. Museums, historic sites, zoos, farms, rainforest and places of interest are the business, luckily the kids love them too.
- Tours and Guides.The older they get, the more they getting out of guided tours and audio guides, when they were tiny this was pointless. We had a fantastic day long tour in Assisi, a guide at the ruins of Tikal, also the British Museum, Tate modern and National Gallery tours.
- Audio books for the car, particularly Horrible Histories ( click through to see the range) and children’s e-books to read on their Kindles.
- The world around them. There is always something to learn in each new place.
We do not travel lite, that’s not fair on the kids. Alongside the books, computers, pens and pencils, we’re always picking up new Lego sets, Nerf Guns, cuddly toys, frisbees and Harry Potter paraphernalia. We have two very full adult backpacks, we’ll never travel carry-on only for longer trips. Kids need some “stuff” which was part of our decision to buy a house as a base. The house we bought, you can find out where here, has now, sadly, fallen through and our base is changing.
Workbooks and “School” Books
We love the Carol Vorderman series of workbooks, she covers English, Maths, Science and Coding. We’ve tried many different workbooks, these come out favourite and best. Workbooks like this a fairly slim and easy to carry, both boys usually have at least 2 with them
Take a look at Maths Made Easy series here, multiple ages, multiple topics from $2.75, £3.75 on Amazon.
It’s fairly easy to pick up work books around the world, you can buy online from Amazon in age or ability appropriate levels. We saw good ones in English, in Sri Lanka and always stock up in the UK.
After much trial and error, we’ve discovered that we prefer the Carol Vorderman series of work books, along with the few below
- Carol Vorderman English (English Made Easy see range here ),
- Carol Vorderman Maths (Maths Made Easy see range here)
- Carol Vorderman Science (Science Made Easy see range here)
If we simply have nothing to do, work books fill the time nicely and done right, they’re fun. Don’t forget that puzzle books, crosswords and word searches can also count as “school”, they’re all improving reading, spelling and vocabulary.
Online Learning. Reading
How we taught the kids to read and how they continue to improve their literacy as teens and tweens:
- Reading to and with them as much as possible.
- Road signs, tube maps and menus were big players
- The Reading Eggs online learning program
- Written work books bought online or in shops ( above)
- Gaming, such as Minecraft, helped reading and spelling a lot
- Almost all of their spelling and grammar has come naturally from extensive reading
- Giving them plenty of time to read, in bed, in buses, planes and cars. We have a Kindle-only rule, no games during transit.
- A steady supply of quality books on their Kindles
When the boys were tiny, just learning letters and starting to read, they both used Reading Eggs. They used them for fun, simple, brightly coloured games were their first steps in letters and phonics. You could, of course, use this online course in a much more structured way. Reading Eggs now works for children right through to 13 years old, there have been big changes on the site allowing it to be used for more advanced reading and comprehension. Our links to Reading Eggs above will give you a free trial.
Online Learning. General, Reading, Maths and More
We have a subscription to an 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.
Online Learning. Computer Coding
Computer Coding for Kids Available for Kindle, as Paperback or Flexi Bound on Amazon ( $10-$28, from £4.99 )
For computer coding we use Scratch, Khan Academy and Code Academy, all are free. We supplement this with this book (above) Computer Coding for Kids which is tied to the UK coding curriculum ( This computer coding book is also available as a work book here). Scratch is loads of fun, the kids do this without realising they’re doing “school” and the book gives them ideas for projects. This book also covers Python and has earned a place in our backpacks. Code Academy introduces HTML, but I found it easier to teach myself this coding language from a book (HTML for Dummies). I use this skill on the websites all the time.
Online Learning. Typing
My 11 year old recently decided to learn to touch type. He’s doing brilliantly on BBC Dance Mat and loves doing it. This is pure self-directed learning. Love that! He’s found some other online typing games and practice sites, I’ll have to ask him what they are.
Online Learning. Art
I find that both boys CAN draw, but don’t know WHAT to draw, so online drawing and art classes are great fun for them and they’re always proud of their creations. We use a variety of free online art and drawing classes.
- Thrive Art has 1 good free lesson, but we don’t think the full course is worth the money.
- Art Hub For Kids has great Free drawing and painting lessons ( including Minecraft).
- Art Venture has a few free art lessons, mostly using the wax resist method.
This series of famous artist Coloring and drawing books finds its way into our packs sometimes too. This one is Van Gough, the kids’ favourite because of Doctor Who. We always have coloured pencils and sketch books with us.
Online Learning. Languages
You will find many, many apps that will help you learn languages, our favourite is Duolingo which we use for Spanish along with the excellent BBC Languages website. Here you’ll find FREE languages courses.
Online Learning. Geography
Seterra is an online geography game, you can download it to your computer and have endless fun beating the kids at identifying countries against the clock. It’s great when they start to beat the grown ups.
Online Learning. History
The most important tool you need is the Kindle ( see full range and varied prices here)! It works for kids of any age, anywhere in the world. The paperwhite doesn’t play games, it’s just a book, that way your kids will read.
The Kindle Paperwhites ( see above) are the single most important tool we carry, other than the laptops. We couldn’t travel without a never ending supply of books, in English, click the link above and buy the kids one each. Ours, the paperwhite, do not play games, they are purely for reading, we have a no computer game or phone rule when we’re outside the house, it applies to adults too, if we had the Kindle Fire ( inspect here they’d just play games. Without books to read, travel days would be long and hard. Sure, they play computer games too, but on laptops at home or on their 3DS, by only allowing Kindles on trains, in bed, on planes, we make time for reading. We like the Nintendo 3DS ( we love these, learn more here) a lot, it’s less addictive for gaming and has lots of other functions ( camera, music, video, stop/start animation etc.) but Kindles (see full range here) are our best friends.
How Many Hours Does Homeschooling On The Road Take?
That’s up to you and your kids. This is what we do.
- When we’re actively travelling, backpacking around, seeing new things and places, we do NOTHING! They’re learning enough, why spoil it? ( for example during our month in India)
By nothing I mean no work books, online learning or reading other than what they would do for pleasure ( which is a lot, they read on every bus or train). They are, of course, learning enormous amounts every day from the diverse experiences, places and people. I will of course, read around the topic and direct them to the learning. They won’t get out of India without, for instance, learning about Partition, religions, Ghandi, the spice trade, Nehru and Indira.
- When we’re settled, in one place for a few weeks or months, we do SOME. A bit, a little, what we need to do or what they want to do. We never let “school work” get in the way of going out, seeing friends or having fun, it’s purely something for down time. ( for example during our breaks in London, Romania, Antigua or 6 weeks on Ko Phangan). With one on one intensive education they fly through content, it doesn’t take a whole term, it takes hours. There are no term times, no holidays and no weekends. The education fits with us, not the other way round. It’s working out just fine.
It’s important to remember that “school” isn’t just the dull stuff, it’s easy to focus just on maths, English and science and forget that drawing, making things, reading and computer studies are important too. Let them have fun with their interests and make sure they know it counts towards their education.
To help you get the ball rolling, a few classic books on education. Every homeschool or unschool parent reads at least a few of these, there is a big shift in thinking and these books will help you get on the road to worldschooling.
Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling
The Unschooling Unmanual
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
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. Maybe join our FREE FACEBOOK SUPPORT and KNOW HOW GROUP ” Living Differently” Sign up to follow our website and you’ll be sent the link.
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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’ve been through the early years of learning to read and primary school maths, they’re there, they did it, it worked. We were far more unschool in those days. My younger son took a long time to start reading, he was 8 before he really started reading books, but now he’s a voracious reader like his brother, the “catch-up” period was just a couple of months once he was ready. That’s the beauty of it, there’s no pressure, let the child go just as far and as fast as they like, it doesn’t matter. The elder one was totally put off reading by school, once he was out, he flew.
I don’t know where we’ll go from here, maybe they’ll want to try school and exams, maybe they won’t. We’re looking at tutors and the British iGCSE system, kids can take their GCSEs without ever going to school, we love this as the boys can pick whatever subjects they like. Nobody can predict the future, but I can tell you for sure that what we’ve done so far has been amazing and that they’re doing just fine.
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. If you’d like an hour long chat via Skype we can do that too, but we charge for time these days, sorry.
- Ultimate destinations, tips, resources and guide to Worldschooling.
- One Year of Travel. How much learning happened?
- Homeschool and Travel. How’s it Going?
- What is Worldschooling?
- What is Deschooling?
- What Does A Homeschool Day Look Like?
- Homeschooling on the road. What do you need?
- Socialization for travelling Homeschoolers and Worldschoolers
World Travel Family now has a smaller sister site Homeschool Group Hug, which deals exclusively with Homeschool related topics outside of travel.
If you now need further information on the nuts and bolts of making this travelling lifestyle possible, you need these posts.
- How We Financed This Trip, saving up and earning as we go
- How To Start Your Own Blog and create an online income
- What Gear Do You Need to Travel with a family
- Tips For Backpacking (long term travel, not hiking!) With Kids
If you’d like to sign up to follow and receive e-mail notifications of new content, do so below. You’ll get an invitation to our FREE private Facebook group for support and knowledge and FREE printable pdfs, currently blog and travel related, but the home education or worldschooling one will be added soon and I’ll let you know. Cheers.