Options for homeschooling while traveling and backpacking. Online school versus making your own curriculum.
When Claire and Tom set off for a year of traveling with their kids, they’d intended on spending 6 months in France and enrolling their kids in the local school system. It would have been a pretty amazing opportunity, and a great way to solidify the kids’ French immersion education.
However, their visas didn’t come through in time and they weren’t able to stay in the Schengen Area for more than 90 days at a time.
Starting with Distance Education
At that point, they registered their kids (grades 4 and 6) in a distance education program offered through a local school district. This program was a cross between homeschooling and traditional education. A way for parents who don’t have the time or interest to design their own homeschooling program to teach their kids at home. And it works really well for a few of our friends with kids who don’t do well in a traditional school environment.
However, it didn’t work well for Claire and Tom’s situation.
- Many of the school assignments required access to a printer, which they didn’t have while traveling.
- The curriculum learning was a small part of what the kids were doing, the rest felt like “make work” activities to keep the kids busy.
- They were in all sorts of amazing places but had to wait for the kids to finish their schooling before they could go to a museum.
It all came to a head while they were waiting for their son to finish a physical education requirement so they could explore The Chateau de Foix in the Pyrenees, France. It seemed ridiculous to tie themselves down to several hours of online education each day when they could be experiencing the amazing history and geography all around them.
Homeschooling while traveling
As it turned out, homeschooling was the best way to teach their kids while traveling. It helped that their kids were both self-motivated learners. They learned so much history, geography, and culture. Developed critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Here are a few pieces of advice for anyone thinking of homeschooling while traveling:
- Check out your school system’s curriculum. It’s important to ensure your kids aren’t falling behind in key areas like math, science, reading, and writing.
- There are lots of good online resources for homeschooling. Perfect when you want to do a bit more formal teaching or work on a project.
- While it’s easy to find math curriculum online, the kids really enjoyed using workbooks. So it’s worth investing in a few math workbooks, especially, if you aren’t confident in your ability to teach all the math skills.
- Get your kids engaged in daily reading and writing. Claire had a goal of mailing one postcard a day and had the kids write at least one fact about the place they were visiting.
- Find teachable moments in all the tourist sights. Don’t just passively look at the exhibits, but take the time to read the interpretive information and discuss.
- Challenge your kids to figure out the local transit system and read maps.
- Have them learn how to use the local currency and figure out the cost of things in the grocery store.
If you want to read more about Claire and Tom’s adventures, check out all the posts.