16/07/2021 by Alyson for World Travel Family
We chose to homeschool almost a decade ago. Today I have teens. One child would be sitting his GCSEs this year and is technically old enough to leave school. Covid seems to have cancelled his exams, but no worry, he can sit them next year, or not at all. The younger child would be in year 10 in regular school. One attended school to just before his seventh birthday, the other has never been inside a classroom. Their childhood involved a lot of travel, this is what people call “worldschooling“. There was some homeschooling, some unschooling, and, mostly no school at all that anyone would recognise. Today, the outcome, do we regret taking the homeschooling path?
The Choice to Homeschool Isn’t an Easy One
Homeschooling is not an easy path to take. If you’ve home educated even for a short time you’ll know the levels of objection and hostility you can face from some of society.
Homeschooling challenges people’s beliefs in the system the way it is, and a lot of people hold very strong anti-homeschool beliefs based on no knowledge whatsoever. A lot of people feel the need to voice those opinions, particularly when they’re hiding behind a computer screen.
We’ve seen it, heard it, and felt it. You only have to look at some of the comments on this website to see how much homeschooling can rile people. We homeschoolers encounter hostility from friends, family, acquaintances, and random people at the supermarket. We learn to deal with it.
We coped by cutting aggressors out of our lives. They weren’t welcome around us. That was easy. It’s not so easy for every homeschooling family. We mostly find new friends with beliefs more in line with our own. Our family is blessed with a wonderful international support system today.
Why We Chose to Homeschool
We chose homeschooling because we thought it was the best choice for our kids. That’s the short and honest answer. There were many factors that led to that decision, we weren’t happy with the local school, we didn’t want our kids raised in the system, we wanted them to be as happy and well-educated as possible, and we wanted to spend time with them. The travel was a product of the homeschooling, not the other way round.
You may think your local school or whatever private school you can afford is the best option for your kids for all the same reasons. That’s fine, but for us it wasn’t the best option.
Outcomes of Homeschooling
Never being inside a classroom, and only a year or so as a very young child in school, seems to have held them back not-at-all. Today they are happy, accomplished, and I have no doubt they’ll pass a whole bunch of exams if they choose that route.
We never intended for them to sit exams. That wasn’t part of the plan. But then Covid came and changed our world.
How Covid Stopped Our Homeschooling
When the virus came in 2020 we were forced to change our lifestyle. We were stranded, and the full-time travel that saw us free to come and go as we pleased was finished. For various reasons, primarily strict homeschooling regulations and house-bound boredom, we put our kids in an online school.
This is not homeschooling. In homeschooling the parents take on the responsibility of their child’s education. I signed that over to a school and teachers, I was no longer a homeschool mum.
The kids slotted into their classes straight away with no knowledge gap at all. They chose sciences, history, literature, a good cross-section of topics to suit their interests. I am, or was, a scientist, I knew their science knowledge was good, the other subjects I was more anxious about, particularly maths.
I needn’t have worried. They were fine, no different to the other kids at all, in fact, often, they performed strongly, scoring some seriously high grades. My older teen has just sat his mocks. He did great. The first exams he has ever sat other than his scuba qualification, which, if you didn’t know, is mostly physics. He had never written an essay before in his life.
Academically, if you choose to score a childhood based on exam passes, it’s all worked out just fine. You could argue that he would have passed more exams and better, had he been in school. Possibly, but it doesn’t matter. He will pass enough and my feeling is that he would have done less well academically in school. Obviously, the outcomes are bigger than that.
I’ve been privileged to spend every day of the last nine years with my kids. Every day, and night, we have been together, never separated at all. That has been wonderful. We get on, we have no “teen” issues, I know where they are and what they’re doing and who with. I know them inside out, I like them, I’m proud of them, they’re pretty cool kids. I’m happy, they’re happy.
They’ve had time to follow their interests through not having to spend their lives in school. One is a very determined young YouTuber, the other loves his conservation volunteering. They couldn’t have done either with a regular school timetable. Their young remembrance is full of days spent skiing, scuba diving, and climbing mountains alongside planes, buses, and trains. They have no memories containing bullying or other school injustices. No ridicule, peer pressure, or the school-days shame of unpopularity.
Of course, we’ve taken them to fifty or so countries,. That has been incredible for them. I can see how it’s added to their self-esteem and self-belief. They are full of knowledge and experience that few other kids will have and it’s good. Very good for them.
Any Negatives of Homeschooling? Any Regrets?
None of us has a strong social circle in our present location. We are not meshed into the community as most people are by their school years. We don’t have many friends here. Is that a negative?
We haven’t been here, we’ve been all over the world these last nine years, this isn’t our home, not our community. The longer we stay the more embedded we’re becoming, but this isn’t permanent. As soon as we can we’ll be gone.
To us these things aren’t negatives. We have trusted friends all over the world and soon we’ll be able to see them again, we hope. Many of these friends have influenced my boys growing up, diverse people of different nationalities and walks of life. With homeschoolers you’ll often find that they get along with adults better than the school kids do. It was something I became aware of at our first ever homeschool camp. The homeschooled teens were different from other teens. There’s never any us and them, no otherly “Sir” or “Miss”. Just more human beings to interact with, or not.
The biggest negative of our digital nomad lifestyle, I think, is in having too many choices. No one place is obviously “home” to us and I struggle with decisions on where to be. I had this affliction before the kids were born. I married somebody from another country and culture, it was inevitable. They are mixed nationality, although they identify most strongly as British. This could affect the kids negatively in future, we have no way of knowing. But I do know they could live happily in Vietnam, Romania, London, Wales, in many places, and they have the skills to make that happen if it’s what they choose.
Through this journey we’ve met other homeschooled, worldschooled, and unschooled kids, of course. You’ll usually find my kids chatting to them online. I can hear them both chatting away right now. They are their peers, I guess. The kids with the shared experiences.
I’m not self-justifying here, I just think it’s time to share that it worked. Everything came together just fine. Yes, I worried, stressed, and doubted at times. We all do. There were sleepless nights and lack of maternal certainty. But now, it’s all good. They’ll be fine. And that’s what every parent desires. I’ve been a homeschool advocate for nine years. I’ve been interviewed by magazines, newspapers, even Lonely Planet on this, my favourite topic. Giving kids freedom from school and simultaneously, an epic education. It’s nice to be able to lay it to rest now. It worked. I’d like to open the comments section to you, is there anything you’d like to ask on homeschooling, the travel, or the lifestyle? You’ll find more information in the related posts and tags below. No regrets about homeschooling, no way. If we had these years over the only change I’d make would be to never send my elder son to school at all. The biggest regret today is that I wasn’t ready, I didn’t have the strength to walk this path for him back then.