Home school on the road – finding the time and the right frame of mind
I think that we have finally found a rhythm with the childrens schoolwork that works well for all of us. The first weeks after the summer break when we first started school we were in China. As we did little travel then, we always seemed to find enough time for school.
As the travel increased formal school work when we sit down and do reading and writing became more and more difficult to fit in. There is usually aways enough time in the day to fit schoolwork in, but it has to be the right time when the kids are in the right frame of mind in order for it to be productive. Early morning always works best, but if we are visiting somewhere or travelling then morning is usually the time we go.
Home schooling on the road – informal learning from hands on experiences
We have resigned ourselves to the fact that some days we simply cant find the right time to sit down and do formal school work with the kids. Initially I was stressing about this but now I think that it’s ok and we don’t worry about it too much as we are teaching them soo many other things all the time on our travels.
In the weekly skype sessions the children do with their teacher, they go through schoolwork but also have a chat about places we have visited and things they have seen and learned. I love listening in to their conversations as it lets me hear first hand all the things they pick up as we go when they tell their teacher all about it. At this age,(5 & 8) learning could not be more fun than this
On days of travel and sightseeing Ingrid and Scott also pick up many things that are difficult to teach in school, such as how to get around safely in a foreign country, reading a map, using a compass, how to communicate with people form different countries when language is a key barrier, foreign culture, religion and traditions and the list goes on and on.
In Australia for example, the time in the morning that we would ideally spend with schoolwork we were driving the van to our next campsite or stop. We had planned for the kids to do school while driving but the back of the van was really bumpy and hot so this didn’t work out.
We did on the other hand have amazing wildlife experiences that will stay with the kids forever and the most amazing stargazing night in a fantastic little observatory in the outback, a great visit to a spider exhibition in Sydney and so on.
Once we were out of the van and Australia we managed to get going with the more formal schoolwork again. In Bali we spent the morning s in the hotel and the afternoons on the beach and the same routine is working well again in Krabi.
Here we could see all the things they had picked up during our time in Australia. Ingrid for example did an amazing report and fact file on the laptop over the Australian animals we’d met on our journey through Oz and we did some great work on space and planets with Scott.
Typical school day while traveling
Paul and I wake up at 6-7 and the kids around 8. After chilling out, reading and playing games we have breakfast around 9. We have found the going into school mode straight after breakfast doesn’t really work for Scott. He needs some physical activity first so we have a swim, go for a walk or play with his toys first.
Schoolwork starts between 9 & 10 and usually last 1-2 hrs for Scott and 2-3 hours for Ingrid. After lunch we go exploring or see some sights, hike, swim, go for a bike ride or similar. In the evenings we play card games, write postcards, letters and diaries which also is proving a useful for of learning.
At bedtime, I read to Scott and Scott reads to me usually on my kindle fire which has a fantastic selection of childrens books and phonics stories e.g. Biff and Kipper, Dr Seuss and Letterland. Ingrid is as usual plowing through heaps of books and has recently started enjoying more grown up literature such as And the Mountains Echoed and Great Expectation.
I am now reading the same books as her so that we can talk about the books as they are getting more and more advanced, something she really enjoys.
Motivating the children to do schoolwork while travelling
Motivating Scott in simple ways
Its very hard to keep Scott going for more than an hour so this is when we can use Linda, the teacher in Glasgow that the children Skype every week as a bit of extra motivation and it always works.
Linda sends us writing, maths and reading work for Scott to complete every week she then tests him on the work in his 15min Skype session with her every Wednesday. The other key motivator for Scott is the stickers he gets for completing his schoolwork. He usually stacks up 10 in a week and gets a reward in the shape of a sweet, ice cream or similar. I usually do schoolwork with Scott while Paul works with Ingrid.
What motivates Ingrid
With Ingrid, schoolwork is slightly different. We have noticed a new trait in her that at first we did not understand. She is the gentlest, kindest little girl ever, but has since the start of our travels found a new enjoyment in teasing and taunting Scott. We have now clearly identified this behaviour to be related to brain boredom. Ingrid happily gets stuck into schoolwork and is happy to keep going for hours.
Paul is doing advanced maths and teaching her about science, religion, geography, history and just in general the ways of the world. We have decided lately that she will do most of her writing and maths on the computer, to help build the IT skills. Still, this is not enough to satisfy her huger for knowledge. Paul has started doing logic problems with her to give her little brain more things to occupy itself with and as a result she is not pestering Scott as much.
The benefits of hiring teacher to help with school while travelling
The work Linda, the kids teacher sends through on a weekly basis really helps structure the schoolwork we do with the children. Both Ingrid and Scott are excited to have their weekly Skype sessions with Linda to show her the work they have completed in the past week so it helps with the motivation as well.
For Paul and me its a great help in structuring the school sessions and pushing them both to do that little bit extra. It also take a weight off our shoulders knowing that Ingrid and Scott are keeping up with their peers working on the same curriculum as their friends back home.
Paul and I have to our surprise both found a great satisfaction in teaching the children and seeing them progress. Hopefully we can keep this up for the next 9 months.