Homeschooling Without a Schedule!

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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 schedule while travelling
Boo bear enjoying Thailand. Boo bear has now enjoyed around 50 countries and is still with us today. You could save this to Pinterest if you like πŸ™‚ 

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.

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.

If you agree and want to spread the word about homeschooling as a fantastic option for children and families, please hit like and share . Thanks!

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.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

17 thoughts on “Homeschooling Without a Schedule!”

  1. I’m on the same journey with my 6 year old re: reading. The “best method” manuals on teaching reading have been so bulky and intimidating I just decided “I can’t “. It will just have to happen for her, because I’m stressed out just thinking about getting thru the manual, much less applying it all. I always think Abraham Lincoln’s mom didn’t have___and he learned it! And it’s happening! She is sounding letters out little by little and just can’t get around the fact that she is so motivated to use words to write notes to us, make a sign, a card for a friend, and each time I walk her thru one, she’s faster and more in charge than the last, so cool!

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  2. I’ve just spent two hours catching up on old posts- it’s all very fascinating, brave, and yet normal too. In your efforts to get back to fun blogging and away from travel tips, I’d love to simply hear more about your day to day lives. What do your kids do all day? How does one depend six weeks in a remote place….I honestly have no idea. Don’t you (and the kids) run out of things to do? I’m an American living in Oz, with a 2 yo. We’ve done a bit of SEA….and I just can’t fathom how you pass each day! Six weeks spent in random villages- enjoying yourselves no less- blows my mind πŸ™‚ I’m your student now, I’ve subscribed and look forward to learning more. Xx

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    • Hi Lisa! Post coming just for you! It’s not much different to what we’d be doing at home, minus housework πŸ™‚ Actually that’s a lie, I do sweep and tidy and organise laundry. We’re moving today, got a ferry to catch, but I’ll be onto it as soon as I have time. Those are the posts I like to write, but unfortunately they’re not the ones that bring in the search traffic, so we have to have both, plus the money making posts. I’ll put my jedi master hat on and exlain all shortly!

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  3. agreed!! it takes a certain kind of parent…we all bring different things to the table. I was bored in grade school (terribly bored!) and so my big takeaway from childhood was “I want my kids to play and love learning.” I’m a yes mom, a play mom, a make a mess mom and don’t sweat the tests and homework mom. Yes, kids learn best through play. yes yes yes.

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  4. I love your blog! As an educator and traveller (not long term like you but currently having a month through Cambodia and Vietnam) I try to extract all the learning opportunities I can out of our experiences. You are an inspiration! I would love a post on how you deal with money on the road, ATMs, Visa withdrawal etc. if you get a chance.

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    • I leave all that to my husband Elaine. He is currently obsessed with one particular bank in Thailand that doesn’t give us any bank charges. Pre op. he’d run 10Km to find one. We always use ATMs. And thanks for your kind words πŸ™‚

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  5. We have just started H/E with our son and cannot believe the ways in which we cover “subjects”……example: Oliver has a passion for fishing, whilst out fishing we delve into maths(weighing the fish, counting maggots(we seriously tried doing this:)), biology(talking about how fish breathe and why some fish have protective slime on their bodies, different species etc), nature study, local history, photography, scrapbooking, arts and crafts, geography all of this is covered just by his passion for fishing and not a text book or exercise book in sight….totally agree education is found everywhere, in every circumstance. LOVE THIS POST

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    • Go Bev! PS. fish don’t breath! I know, my two have more than covered all of primary school science already, just through conversation, it’s my pet subject, so that’s easy. Best of luck with the homeschooling, sounds like you found your groove.

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      • ooooooooppppsss what I should of said is that fish have gills they use these specialized organs in order to breathe the oxygen dissolved in water. lol. But it’s great we are all finding out new and amazing things by our home ed-ing, we are loving it and wondered why we stalled for 2 years, never mind we got there in the end.

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  6. What a rubbish Grandma I am. I don’t ask about school (they wouldn’t tell me anyway – and why should they?). Instead we’ll go and play in the river and contemplate the function of mud.

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  7. I hope you get back into your blogging soon!

    I for one really enjoy them and remember your blogs for most of us are a source of inspiration to get off our backsides and take the steps you have..

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  8. Ah, but they don’t pick it up when left alone, exactly, do they? They pick it up when they are surrounded by a responsive group of people willing to transfer their knowledge within day to day interactions.

    The school system is good at packaging the process up so it can be delivered to large groups by a single adult. It meets basic minimums. I’m glad it exists.

    I am happy, though, to have the option of the Singaporean education system which sets the bar a bit higher than the Queensland one and spends less time having the whole class sit uselessly and wait for each other – which is what I remember most of my primary school days being filled with.

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    • That’s why they talk to us Bronwyn, if they need to know something, they ask. If they’re interested it’s the best time to learn. They are mostly near the only adult who is truely responsive to their every need and cares about their education…me! Works wonders πŸ™‚

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      • I absolutely agree, but not every child has that, and not every family can provide it. Which is where I think schools do a wonderful job.

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  9. As a little kid, I loved numbers – still do – by the time I was 5, I could properly use a slide rule, thought a compass was magical, read and drew maps; at 6, I would spend time in the camp laboratory counting red blood cells with the lab technician, or on the excavation/construction site with a sextant……….my point: I was home-schooled – mostly by life, occasionally at a desk – far better than how we formally ‘school’ children……..You are raising amazing boys…….
    PS as a Gram, I’m all for your form of teaching……..

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