As I am preparing for A Year of Family Travel, many people are asking:
Are you going to homeschool?
My answer is: Yes, we are!
To anyone who knows me personally, this would not come as a surprise. I actually always planned to homeschool my children but, due to personal circumstances and the desire to try out our local school (which is AWESOME by the way), we decided to go ahead with traditional schooling for a couple years.
I am glad our kids had the opportunity to go to a traditional school for a while, so we could all find out how it worked and see what they got out of it. And although we have really enjoyed being part of our lovely school community, we are also excited about the prospect of giving our children the chance to explore their own interests more naturally and at their own pace.
Without getting into a huge discussion here (because I could on and on about the subject of education!) I am simply going to outline the steps I am planning to take in order to ensure a successful homeschooling experience for our family next year.
Getting Ready to Homeschool in 5 Steps
1. Prioritising healthy relationships in the family.
Nurturing loving relationships within our family is always on my mind. But next year, when we are spending every day together, I know it will be crucial. If we are not getting along, it is not going to be much fun!
I will admit that probably the most daunting thing about homeschooling while traveling is all the time we will spend in close quarters while on the road and staying in small accommodation. I am an introvert and work best with at least a few hours of quiet alone time each day. My kids also need time apart so they can work on their own projects and get some “down time” when they are tired. When we overstep these boundaries, I find the fighting and nitpicking increase. Not enough rest and junk foods also contribute towards grumpiness!
To make sure we don’t drive each other crazy, I’m going to make sure that relationships take precedence over all else. That means ensuring we all have ample rest, healthy foods, not too much screen time, and enough time in each day to rejuvenate on our own. This means having plenty of audio stories, enjoyable quiet time activities, and lots of day trips out to nature where we can have our own space. We will obviously have to see what works in each location we go to… but mentally preparing myself to watch out for these needs (and protect each person’s individual boundaries) has been very important to my feeling of readiness for next year’s undertaking.
2. Getting the help I need.
Traveling and homeschooling is going to be a huge change of pace for all of us. My husband will have to get acclimated to each new hospital he works in, and we will have to find our way around each new town. Furthermore, in the past I have had a few protected hours each week for blogging, which I enjoy very much – whereas that will change when the kids are not in school anymore. Not to mention I will have a toddler, as well, since baby girl turns 1 in January!
In my current routine, I utilise online shopping and a fortnightly cleaner to help me stay on track of domestic duties. Next year, these solutions won’t really work, but I will instead create a very simple menu plan and put the cleaning funds towards eating out when we have had a long day and I just cannot find energy to cook. In order to keep the blog rolling, I will be bringing on two regular contributors, who I will introduce to you at the end of the year. I know you will love them!
3. Having educational resources readily available.
First and foremost we will be using whatever is around us to learn! Museums, parks, libraries, markets, local events, etc.
Beyond that, luckily with the internet these days there are tons of free and awesome educational resources online. Although I am not going to subscribe to any one method of “homeschooling” (and, for ease of communicating I’m calling it homeschooling although some might call what we will be doing road schooling or unschooling), here are a few bookmarks I have made to inspire our learning, depending what the kids show interest in:
4. Building my skills as a parent/teacher/mentor/friend to my kids.
On the road, I will not have the face-to-face support of my current friends. But having a few friends to chat with is very important for me because from experience I know it is a way to work through my emotions and challenges. Thankfully there are many like-minded bloggers who already inspire me, so I plan to continue learning and sharing through them.
Four parenting blogs I get a lot from are:
Three homeschool blogs I really enjoy following – whose authors have similarly aged children to me – are:
5. Setting a realistic goal: learning through life experiences.
We will be making sure we teach our kids enough to fulfil the government standards for home education but most importantly we aim to give our kids an opportunity to explore the world and learn through life. We won’t be tackling themed book lists or doing complicated science projects unless that is what the kids want to do. We plan to help them engage with topics they are interested in and foster their innate love of learning… not create a pre-planned schedule of topics and projects for them to complete. This not only follows our personal beliefs about what type of education we want to give our kids, but takes unnecessary pressure off me as well. I won’t be tied to a timetable so will be able focus my energy on encouraging each child’s unique gifts in whatever way suits them best.
Do you homeschool or would you ever try it? What tips or resources would you recommend?