Last Updated 13/06/2021
5 years of travel, 2 years of homeschooling before that and we’ve never really had what you might call a schedule. It’s going great, so I’d argue that you don’t need one, but that’s to come. When I first started homeschooling, with a 7 year old and a 5 year old, I thought we would probably have a homeschooling schedule of some sort, but it never worked out that way. Once I was thoroughly deschooled ( It’s YOU that needs to deschool, not just the kids!) I saw what was happening and we’ve been going with the educational flow ever since. So a few words about our schedule, because still, today, people ask what our homeschooling (or worldschooling) schedule looks like.
Homeschooling Without a Schedule – Why?
I first wrote this post in 2014. We were on Ko Phangan in Thailand and having a forced break from travel after my husband needed emergency surgery. I’m not going to delete this old content, it’s part of our story, but I’ll update below. Our outcomes after homeschooling without a schedule are at the end of the post. Back then I wrote:
Due to our current immobility after my husband’s surgery, I have spent the last two weeks officially covering and completing year 2 maths with my year 1 child.
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Two weeks, for a whole school year, that’s it!
We’ve done up to an hour a day, most days, at whatever time has suited us.
Sometimes we’ve done it inside, sometimes outside, sometimes in a restaurant overlooking Haad Salad beach.
This child is mostly unschooled, we very rarely do anything formal together. We just live our lives and verbally pull every scrap of learning out of each opportunity that comes our way. So why the sudden interest in doing things by the book?
We are going to stay with Grandma!
Grandma is going to want to know how he’s doing, she’ll want proof and I want an easy life.
We have an online learning programme that is tied to the Australian curriculum. I can go there any time and see, at a glance, what areas we “should” have covered if we were following the Australian school system.( we’re not, but Grandma doesn’t need to know everything!)
I can switch on the laptop, show Grandma the year 2 maths page with every section complete and everyone will be happy. Easy! Boo is totally aware of this plan and is happy to go along with it.
Mostly, maths at this age consists of concepts that a child will pick up with exposure to the real world and its mathematical complexities. They do not need to be taught this stuff!
Yesterday we electronically ticked off counting in fives, counting in tens, doubles, dividing by two and simple maps. It took no time at all to wiz through and create the hard evidence. Boo knows how to do all of that already!
He’s never been taught or had any formal instruction, he’s just picked it up as he goes along.
In Homeschooling We Don’t Need Schedules!
Our intensive year 2 maths-fest has been fun for him because it’s been easy. He knows how to do it, he’s showing off and loving being “smart” and “ahead”. All kids love that. He wants to get most of year 3 finished soon, too so that he can “officially” be 2 years ahead in maths. I know he can already do a lot of it.
The point that I’m getting to is, why oh why do small children have to be taught this stuff to a rigid schedule? Why do they have to spend a week in school learning skip counting when they’ll just pick it up naturally if they’re left alone. If they don’t grasp it, maybe it’s because they’re too young. Leave them alone a bit longer, let them make the connections. They’ll feel better about themselves that way.
In Queensland, my ex-home state, they like you to submit a term by term plan. I never have and they’ve never objected, the learning plans I submit show I’m on the ball enough. I’m sure a lot of people worry about creating their own timetables and schedules and that’s a shame. It’s 9am on Tuesday so we should do maths has no place in homeschooling. It is so unnecessary.
Children learn at their own pace, usually more and faster than schools allow. You can easily do next to nothing formal for a whole year and still create the documentation to show that learning is happening if regulations ( or impending visits with senior relatives) force you to. Childhood should be about having fun. Children learn through play and curiosity. Let’s give the kids a break!
I don’t normally post about homeschooling on my travel website, I save this stuff for Homeschool Group Hug, my other site. I’m breaking my own rule today for two reasons. Firstly, blogging isn’t doing it for me right now, it’s become work, not fun. I need to get back to being me, I don’t want to be just another travel blogger handing out top tips for tavelling with toddlers. Secondly, because a lot of my followers are parents wondering how they will educate their own children on the road. My very simple answer to that question would be, don’t. They’ll educate themselves.
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Homeschooling Schedules Now They Are Older
My boys are 14 and 12 now and the whole concept of homeschooling schedules is still alien to us. They learn EVERY day, don’t get me wrong, it’s actually impossible to learn nothing. Try it, stop yourself learning for a whole day and tell me if you manage it.
What I mean is, there isn’t a linear progression through any sort of set government curriculum as there is for kids in school. Some day they will learn a heap of stuff that IS on the curriculum. Yesterday we did a bunch of Biology and Physics, maybe a bit of Chemistry too, because we were researching altitude sickness and acclimatisation. It’s on the curriculum… IN UNIVERSITY. I did it in university anyway, maybe you did it in school, I have no idea. But yesterday I wanted them to know about what goes on in your body when you take it to 4,000m, so they did “school”. We’ll publish their findings as a blog post.
Nobody could argue that yesterday was a day full of science, but it wasn’t on a curriculum, it wasn’t learnt to a schedule, it wasn’t done to any sort of learning progression even. If they hit a word they didn’t understand, they Google it, simple. No problem at all.
Why did we do this yesterday? Was it planned? No. We wanted to do research that was related to our up-coming Everest trip over these few weeks and yesterday was just a free day. Once I had the Sunday blog post out I felt I could spend more time with them without stressing over work and for stuff like this you certainly do have to be right there alongside them. It’s complex and they need guidance and explanations, Google alone isn’t enough for my boys generally. Not yet anyway.
Reading the old post above reminds me that we had another maths binge in Vietnam just after Christmas. Again, we had quiet time of no travel so we ploughed through Khan Academy maths (there are loads of other online learning sites and resources )and got the younger one to a point where he really doesn’t need to do any more maths this year according to grade levels. It took a few weeks. D hates maths so he may be “behind” if you look at it in school terms but it’s of no relevance to him right now. Its unimportant, he knows all the maths he needs to know to be a proficient adult and, in fact, I know way more maths after doing this with the boys than I remember from school. Doesn’t that prove something, somehow?
So my point is that they don’t need to learn to a schedule but also that you, me, the parental guidance unit, we shouldn’t even be trying to make them stick to a schedule. It’s just plain mean.
How can they follow their own interests or learn at their own pace when you’re gluing them to a homeschooling schedule? They may as well be in school. There is far more fun to be had learning about the things that excite you, that apply to your life and your needs than there will ever be in just learning from a curriculum to a set plan.
Learning should be exciting!
And often the most exciting learning comes from a novel, a YouTube video or a documentary or the guy you meet in a village in Romania, it’s not on the stupid curriculum.
Final Update and Homeschooling Outcomes
Because of Covid, we put our kids in an online school. As far as we were concerned this was quitting homeschooling as teachers now took some responsibility for my kids’ education, not me. The boys sat exams and passed. We’re now at the A levels and tertiary education stage. I’d say it all worked out just fine.
So that’s it. Schedules, no, don’t do it. They deserve their freedom, mental and physical. Get rid of those boxed curriculums and endless sheets of paper and give them YouTube, Google and books. Let them learn in depth, to any level they like, any time. Life is just far more interesting that way.