If you read our introduction to our hopes and fears about world schooling (or home educating as it’s more commonly called in the UK) here, you’ll know that I’ve been reading extensively around world schooling and homeschooling to get more comfortable with the practicalities of whether – and how – we can do this. “One” can do it, most certainly – and most easily, especially for those in the UK, but can we do this?
Finding our feet: initial thoughts on home schooling during a family gap year
Perhaps this is a question you’ve been asking yourself too. Can homeschooling work for your family? I’ve read blogs, books, articles and advice on home schooling children and particularly home schooling when travelling – or world schooling as some call it. I’ve listened in on forums and joined (and unjoined some) facebook groups. I’ve learnt a lot but am clearly touching the very edges at the moment and have so much more to learn. In the coming weeks, I hope to talk with some of the family travel bloggers who are home schooling, or world schooling and get their top tips. I’m also hoping to find some families who, like us, are planning a family gap year to understand their experiences of world schooling their children and how re-integration has been for them, returning home.
To be notified when these goodies are available, sign up here. Meantime, here are some of the skimming-the-surface general pieces of advice around making world schooling successful:
Take the weight off
The common consensus seems to be that, even if you do “nothing formal” for 12 months, there’s a lot of learning and experience to be gained from traveling which can’t fail but to widen their horizons, open their mind and nourish their souls. Plus, a lot of material gets repeated across primary and even into secondary as secondaries look to homogenise and standardise the learning from multiple primary intakes so, whilst it’s useful to do your research and homework, don’t fret about it all too much.
Don’t re-create school
At all. From timetabling sessions to mimicking the teaching approach, from rigidly sticking to a curriculum to getting hung up on textbooks – trying to replicate school in home schooling or world schooling is, across the board and on every single blog, group and forum a total NO-GO ZONE.
Adjustable routines work better. For some, having a set routine appears to work – but feel your way into this routine, don’t just decide that at 9am every morning you’ll be doing maths. Figure out when your child is most responsive and engaged – which is unlikely to be at a repeat time each day – and go with that. Many world schooling families don’t have routines but, for us, because we’re planning to return the children to school after 12 months it feels like it might be unfair and unrealistic to remove routine entirely and then expect them to settle back in neatly on return. I’m hoping to get some good insights from the many families who’ve returned, which I will share with you if you’ve subscribed.
Avoid hollow threats
You’re unlikely to actually go home because you don’t feel your child is learning enough, so don’t even think about that haranguing parenting style of “I promised your teacher we’d do some work and if we don’t do it, we really need to think about whether this trip can work for us”. I say this because I tried it once on a holiday we’d taken during term time, trying to get my son to read and it was wrong for us on every level. Emotional blackmail, disingenuous, unhelpful, unsuccessful – dirty. Don’t do it.
Make learning constant and autonomous
Hannah at Adventure Travel Family talks about making learning an integral part of everything and this is at the root of the core homeschooling books and ideologies, and I really love this idea – in fact, I tried it on holiday in France and was super excited about how easy it suddenly felt – read about that here. Simply, everything from buying food, calculating exchange rates, working out budgets, figuring out distances, sharing out items means your children are learning if you engage them in the process. Combine the fascinating learning opportunities travel presents, from volcanos to natural springs, from new cultures to wildlife, from weather to geology with the unfettered power of google and youtube to explain even complex subjects in interesting ways and you suddenly realise that you can teach your children SO much day to day without them even feeling like they’re “learning”.
Get tech and material savvy
I’m going to write lots more on this as I’m planning to break down the UK curriculum into a more digestible format and I already have lots of technologies, apps, materials and ideas for how we’re going to get the children engaged in travelling and learning.
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