Almost Fearless

Traveling Homeschoolers Speak – How They Do It: Day 27 of 30w30d



This post is part of 30 Ways in 30 days to Redesign Your Life and Travel the World. This series seeks to give you the practical, real world steps you need to take to get from wherever you are, to exactly where you want to be– traveling the world and living the lifestyle you want.

A few weeks ago, I wrote Taking the Classroom on the Road and I promised readers a follow up post with insights from traveling homeschooling families.  I’m very excited to share today’s post, which includes interviews from three very interesting families.  If you’re thinking of homeschooling, I’d definitely take a look through some of the links they’ve provided and read more about it on their blogs.  A big thanks to Jeanne Dee, Brenna and Nancy for their help with this post!

30 ways in 30 days, homeschooling, education, parenting, travel inspirations

Jeanne Dee
Currently traveling around Europe
Homeschooling since: always
Age(s): 9

What’s homeschooling like? It truly is the best possible education and much easier than most people realize. It is a perfect combination with travel. We find we that we can get much more education out of much less time put into it.

How do you make it work? Our child is an advanced learner so can go at her own pace which is many years above her grade level. We homeschool a small amount daily at her level in English all year round and also use the local school in Spain for 4/5 months out of the year for deep immersion into her 2nd language, literature & culture.

We plan to also immerse her into a 3rd language-Mandarin Chinese in the same way when we get to Asia. Much of her homeschooling is done through her reading (geared to our travels) & other ways where she just thinks she is having fun. We also do her piano lessons via skype webcam from a teacher on another continent and do classes with John Hopkin’s University CTY program online and other online opportunities. Digital libraries and Brainpop are great fun for traveling homeschoolers too.

Tips for getting started: Read John Taylor Gatto and John Holt (“father” of unschooling).

Recommended Links:

Brenna Gibson Redpath, From Here To Uncertainty
Currently in Scotland (this week anyway).
Homeschooling since: always
Age(s): 7 and 11

Tips for getting started: Find out the legal implications of homeschooling in your state or country. Legal homeschooling varies widely across the US, and is illegal unless you yourself are a certified teacher in some countries, like Germany. Read books about, and by, other homeschooling families. Knowing success stories, and pitfalls, is helpful in daily homeschool life. Follow your children’s interests. If they don’t know what they are interested in, don’t panic. They will soon. Having said this – we planned to travel Europe for a year, and once we got here my son fell in love with Japan, and is currently obsessed. Sigh…

How do you incorporate travel into homeschooling? If you start homeschooling before you’re traveling, find a homeschool group if it’s available, and go to park days and field trips that they offer. Listen to other parents and ask questions. Take advantage of on-line school websites.

Decide your goals, and let those goals guide you. Do you plan to travel indefinitely – letting your traveling play a big part in your schooling life? Do you plan to be gone for a set amount of time, and want your children to be in-line with classmates when they come back? Does a regularly scheduled day feel best to you, or a looser see-what-the-day-brings vibe. There are so many different ways to successfully homeschool your children. You need to decide what feels like a good family schooling experience to you.

Recommended resources: My son, who is in 6th grade, really loves a company called Time 4 Learning, which offers an on-line curriculum. He goes as quickly (or as slowly) through the material as he needs. I like the way the website documents progress for parents, promotes independent work, and allows for strengths and weaknesses in different areas of learning. My son is a whiz at Language Arts and higher math, but will never, I fear, be an accomplished speller. He feels successful with this program. Time 4 Learning has on-line quizzes, and worksheet print-outs. It’s light on history and science in my opinion, but we’re living history every day.

Another company is K12. It offers lots of choices in curriculum, all under the legal K12 umbrella.

I brought along workbooks for my daughter by a company called Handwriting Without Tears, which is a wonderful curriculum that I used with both my kids for beginning reading and writing, as well as cursive.

Articles you’ve written that you’d like to share:

Nancy Sathre-Vogel, Family on Bikes
Biking across the Americas.
Homeschooling since: 2006/07 and 2008 – present
Age(s): 11 year old twins

Your Experience: Classroom teacher in Special Ed, elementary, and middle school math & science for 21 years

Tips for getting started: Just do it and trust in your kids. Take them out to every place you can think of – museums, parks, mountains, and lakes. Enjoy your surroundings and help the kids see the magic of what is around them! But mostly – never doubt your child. Never, ever, doubt your child.

Recommended Links:

Articles you’ve written that you’d like to share:

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Additional Resources

Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”

THERE ARE RARELY HAMMOCKS.

http://christinegilbert.com

17 comments

  • Such an important post Christine, thanks for including us!

    We have been traveling the world as a family since 2006 and home schooling through 31 countries 4 continents and over 160,000 miles (most overland)…all while living large on just 25,000 dollars a year as total cost for a family of 3! ( We travel the world for much less than living at home while also giving our child a superior education ).

    I want families to know that homeschooling while doing extended travel is easier, cheaper and more enriching than most realize! When we get back to Spain, you have inspired me to do a series on roadschooling!

    With schools on the decline due to the financial crisis and education going through it’s biggest change due to the exponential times that we live in -calling for greater adaptability and creativity for future global citizens…more people are considering the road schooling options!

    We spend very little time on formal schooling, yet when we returned home for a brief visit (and to meet the disadvantaged school kids that we take with us virtually from Harlem, South Bronx etc) after almost 3 years of world travel, we had our child take an achievement test at a top place to make sure we were on track.

    Not surprisingly all of her scores were excellent and well above grade level (including some at high school level and she was still 7!).Parents need not worry that a child that is road schooled will miss things, for travel itself is a great education. Simply add books and an excellent math program like Singapore Math, journal and discuss and most of the work is done for you!

    Besides the museums, over 126 World Heritage sites, castles and countless ancient ruins in Greece, Turkey, Italy, France etc, there is so much to be learned about life through the everyday things of using subways and buses around the world, our 6 year old doing a service project of playing her violin for 60 Berber kids in the Sahara, taking flamenco lessons every week in Andalusia where it began, swimming with dolphins in Portugal, grocery shopping everywhere or making friends easily with kids and people of all ages!

    Recently there have been some studies that show living abroad increases creativity! If you dream about it, go for it and know you won’t find a better education!

  • Thanks for this post, I’ll have to explore some of the links further.

    We are a family of four currently putting the details in place for a trip around the world, we depart February 24th. I have found much information, like this post, about homeschooling for elementary age children. While it is inspiring and helpful for younger children, I am finding a dearth of information for high school age children.

    As we plan to return to Bend after about a year and a half, our daughter will enroll back into public high school when our wandering is done. The school system does expect transcripts of courses completed and credits to enroll them without repeating work that has already been covered. Also, high school algebra was a long time ago for me. I can help my younger daughter with her math, but it takes me longer to figure out where my older child is in math than for her to muck through on her own.

    I have found a couple of online schools, which are fairly spendy but will probably be the route we take for our older child. I have meetings this week at both the high school and middle school with counselors, to find out what they will accept and what they will not. (I’ve been writing my way through this on my blog. I’ll follow up there as to what I find.)

    Are there bloggers who have figured this out before me, who have made a path, so to speak? Your link to Boots N’ All “Advice for Older Kids” at the bottom of your post only asks the question in a forum, and all the comments are other people trying to find answers. (unless I missed something)

    Thanks Again!

    Eva Gill
    .-= Eva Gill´s last blog ..Barre de Potosi; A Road Less Traveled =-.

  • Hi Eva,

    I mentioned this in my prior post: http://www.almostfearless.com/2009/09/12/taking-the-classroom-on-the-road-day-12-of-30w30d/ that I was homeschooled for just ninth grade year. That included algebra. The difference with homeschooling, I found, was that while you don’t have a teacher “explaining” it to you, you don’t really need that. The books are clear and reading them carefully was enough. I still had to figure things out, but I had the answer guides and could see if I did it right or go back and try it again. I didn’t have anyone explaining it to me. It ends up reinforcing the concepts a lot stronger and besides, in a public school, a teacher is spending almost no time one on one at that level. So basically you have a teacher acting out the lesson on the board, that is the same as what’s in the book. Then we figure it out ourselves. I think we assume that teachers are doing more teaching than they are. Mostly, at the high school level, they are doing crowd control, in my opinion. Or just the kids at the fringes, the ones really struggling get extra help but no one else. There just isn’t enough time in an hour block to give 30 students a chance to ask individual questions or help them one on one.

    After my ninth grade homeschooling year, I went on to take advanced placement chemistry and english, get into college, complete advanced calculus coursework and get a job working in a technical field. So keep researching! It’s possible and you’re not putting your kids education at risk. I bet in Bend, OR there are lots of homeschooling families you can meet. They probably have a social group.

    Good luck!

  • Hi Christine and Eva,
    I’ve got 2 boys: 9 and 13. Both have been in regular school since Kindergarten and both are doing just fine at school.
    We’re planning to leave Seattle next June and travel for 15 months. Even though my husband & I are fine with them taking a year to just immerse in other cultures while we travel, both the kids have expressed a strong wish to stay at grade level so that when we return they will be able to re-join existing classmates in school.
    I’m currently researching options for this and will post about on my blog in coming months. We have used the CTY program Jeanne mentions above during school breaks already and found it excellent.
    Michelle
    .-= wandermom´s last blog ..Family Skiing: Three Cost Saving Ideas =-.

  • Thanks, Christine.

    I definitely understand the value of homeschooling and the inefficiencies in public schools. The difficulty lies with the return home, just as Michelle just said here, my girls (who are 11 and 13) both want to stay in all the grade level or above classes they are in, and return to public schools to be with their friends when we get home.

    Michelle, are you (or will you) writing about this on your blog? I’d really like to hear what you come up with, as our quandary is the same, although we leave before you.

    Thanks Again!

    Eva Gill
    .-= Eva Gill´s last blog ..RTW Countdown: Acceleration of Time =-.

  • Eva- If you look closer at that bootsnall forum link, I think you will find lots of possible answers from other parents that did a similar year long trip as a family with older kids.Also look at my Maya Frost link (she has 4 or 5 teens that did spectacular using long term travel to their advantage) or the College without high school one.

    I have a HUGE list on my links page of other world traveling families..many with teens & most did just one year.

    Sixintheworld also did a year family world tour with 2 teen boys that went back to their schools and kept in the same grade.The Wide World returned this summer with their teen who was in an honors program & went back with her same class peers. Every world traveling family that I have read about (and it has become quite common now to do the one year world tour thing often with teens) the kids have returned AHEAD of their age peers no matter which mode they chose to road school! (from unschool to doing online schools).

    MOST homeschool kids are far advanced to their age peers in schools and spend MUCH less time schooling.That is why many Univ. like Stanford and Harvard tend to prefer them as they are usually much more ready for college and self directed.

    When you homeschool, you don’t teach your child so much as facilitate their leaning.Already our child is ahead of us in many ways, but we do not have to be at her level in order to facilitate her learning.Almost all of her learning is self directed.

    The trip will also change all of you in many ways and a year will go by extremely fast. You will all experience 10/20 years worth of experiences while people at home will do their normal one. That may very well impact the kids as well and they may want something different when they return as you all be very different people who have grown accustomed to freedom and deep bonding together.

    You should search the internet (it is on my site too) for the daughters college essay from the family that wrote the book “one year off”. It is moving and will encourage you about the lasting benefits! It really isn’t as hard as you are imagining now…many have done it and you will find your answers too!

    Good luck!

  • Eva–

    This family blogs about homeschooling their teenage kids:
    http://barenakedfamily.com/

    Also, I brought up that story about my homeschooling to show that I didn’t fall behind my peers at all. I was only homeschooled for the 9th grade and then went back to school in 10th, with no problems. Like everyone else has said, I think it depends on your state requirements more than anything.

  • Thanks, Christine and soultravelers3 for following up with me as I wade through this, and for sending me back to the boots n’all post for another look. I’m not sure how I missed the huge list of links you posted there. Either I’m a dork or got interrupted.

    Anyway, thank you for compiling it to make a trail for others to follow, looks like I’ll be spending a couple of days lost in it.

    I did talk with our local high school counselor, and they do require transcripts of accredited coursework to be able to re-enter at grade level with their peers. This is not so for the elementary and middle schools in our district. May be good advice for anyone going through this process intending to return to public schools to seek out the guidance counselor at the school their child will be returning to before making any decisions.

    Again, thanks for the great information!

  • Great to see this blog on homeschooling. I wouldn’t usually do this and perhaps you won’t want to publish it but I also just did a series of 4 blogs on homeschooling and actually featured soultravelers3 and Nancy Vogel’s families as well as Maya Frosts and the Atkins family. I think the series is a nice companion to this blog because we talk about their personal experience while this blog talks a little more about the details of how they homeschool. The first of our series can be found at http://su.pr/1ncOZD
    Personally, I am also on a year long journey with our 3 daughters, 16, 14 and 9. I have homeschooled my 9 year old for the previous 2 years. Right now they are attending a private school in Brazil for a semester and then I will likely homeschool my older ones in Mexico next semester. For our family, being flexible about how we’re educating as well as watching and listening to our kids about their experience has been important.
    .-= Carmen´s last blog ..Nomading Families Talk about Life and Education – Round Table Discussion Part IV – Maya Frost =-.

  • Hi Christine, I posted a similar message on your first post about homeschooling, so sorry to repeat myself here but just want to add my two cents here:
    As we travel RTW with our two kids, ages 8 and 11, we’re doing a hybrid of traditional schooling and roadschooling through an independent study contract with the kids’ school. My 11-y.-o. daughter describes it well in her own blog, http://www.collyworld.com/2009/09/adapting-to-home-schooling/ (and BTW having your child produce a travel blog is a great “roadschooling” tool for learning!). She also describes pros/cons of long-term family travel and lists homeschooling as a big plus! see http://www.collyworld.com/2009/10/pros-and-cons/
    Some advantages to our homeschooling arrangement: kids have a 6th and 3rd grade curriculum to follow and a relationship with teachers and their peers back home, which should ease the transition when they return to regular school next year. Main disadvantage: getting assignments and feeling compelled to “keep up” with what their peers are doing in the classroom can limit our flexibility and creativity to learn less from school and more from the world around us (though we try not to let it limit us in this way; who wants to travel halfway around the world to sit inside and do homework assignments from back home?). We’re basically doing the minimum the kids need to do to fulfill the school’s independent study curriculum (e.g. keeping up with math and other basics) and letting them use the rest of their time to learn about our surroundings, follow their curiosity with special projects, devour books, etc. Bottom line, it’s a balancing act, but this is one option your readers may not have considered. Read about it if you like at http://away-together.com/2009/10/18/home-schooling-so-far/
    Thanks to the families above like soultravelers3 and familyonbikes — I have gained inspiration from your blogs!
    .-= Sarah Lavender Smith´s last blog ..Branching Out on Lago Nahuel Huapi =-.

  • I’d love to start doing this sort of thing with my kids. I remember reading an article on CNN about a family that sold their home bought a boat and spent the next three years sailing around the world. That would be an AMAZING experience. Still there’s always something that just kind of holds you back from doing crazy stuff like that.

  • Hi Christine!
    I found you in internet while searching about home schooling.
    We are a group of parents startin a Waldorf School in Malta.
    Since we are in the process to get permits and this takes long, many parents are asking us about the possibility of having some group in the structure of homeschooling.
    In Malta homeschooling is not legal, mainly because there is no language in the Maltese education law that talks about it (not because it is expresely mentioned it is not allowed).

    The main questions come from parents that are not Maltese citizends (there are quite a lot in Malta) but are citizens from countries where homeshool is legal (like UK).

    The question is that these parents (not Maltese citizens, but Maltese resident, as well as their children) are not sure if they can homeschool while living in Malta.

    Do you know about this case?:
    I mean: a citizen from a country where homeschooling is legal, can keep home schooling if during some times is living (resident) in another country where homeschooling is not legal?

    If so, there is any paperwork needed? (to show to the authorities in the country where homeschooling is not legal).

    Many thanks!

  • hello there i have a question my husband travels everyplace for his job and we are thinking of putting our 13 yr old in homeschool she will be starting high school in august of this yr my question is ……is it legal to put her into homeschool while we travel for work

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