I travel full time with my family, house sitting here and there along the way. My husband Rob and I both do freelance work online, while home schooling our seven-year-old son Malik, as we travel.
We know firsthand, if you’re a family planning a sabbatical, round the world trip, or extended travel, no matter the term, education for the kids is always a concern.
“Edventures” – Learning on the road
As it is now, more and more families seem to be taking long-term trips (aptly called “edventures”), where kids learn on the road.
One obstacle that parents face when considering pulling their kids out of school to go on a long-term trip, is figuring out how to facilitate learning for their children while traveling. Many things influence how to approach “edventuring”. Like the age of the kids, length of time away and possible state or federal accountability.
However, aside from age and logistics, a framework must be laid first.
This is an introduction to home schooling – basic guidelines for philosophies that give ideas on frameworks, and links to helpful information and other resources to inspire you to delve a little deeper.
Resources and support
There is a staggering amount of information available online about home schooling. It’s hard not to get bogged down by the sheer volume of opinions and educational options.
So where should parents start?
What home schooling method will best suit your family?
You first need to define your philosophy of education. The “how” you will educate must come before “what” you will teach.
The different methodologies
The most talked about options for how to educate kids on the road are:
- home schooling
- road schooling or world schooling
None of these is an exact science, but one thing is true of them all – each style can be customized to best fit the needs of the child and the family.
The basic definitions for each methodology
Generally involves some sort of registry for common core subject based learning like math, science, reading, writing, and geography. The curriculum type and quantity can vary depending on the family.
Some home schooling families choose to mirror traditional school with tests, grades, and yearly goals. Others forgo testing and benchmarks, but still follow a curriculum framework.
Travelling kids can learn via online school classes with curriculum, assignments, and testing. All work can be done with an internet connection to access virtual classrooms. As travelers and house sitters we are continually visiting new locations which provide so many opportunities to school our son Malik about different topics.
Of course, there are different obligations and legalities that can go along with traditional home schooling on the road. These can vary depending on whether or not you are registered, and on your home country or state educational requirements.
Also known as “interest led” or “child driven” learning, un-schooling is home education that allows kids the freedom to learn about the things in the world that interest them.
Parents don’t dictate what kids should learn, but they provide access to knowledge on whatever their child is interested in learning about.
Road schooling or world schooling
This philosophy is a bit of a mixed bag.
I’ve found most traveling families follow the un-schooling methodology, but use these two terms to describe learning from real world situations on the road.
These kids delve into learning about the history and culture at famous tourist sites, use currency conversion for learning and practicing math, and derive many lessons from the litany of experiences associated with extended travel.
These are general guidelines for each philosophy and they all can be blended as well.
Be open-minded when learning about the different approaches, and know that you can customize a path for learning that will best suit your family and your travel situation.
Here are a few resources I think best define and outline each type of educational philosophy:
- This article, An Introduction to Road Schooling, is road schooling 101 at its best. It also includes curriculum ideas by grade, and different road schooling/world schooling projects that are fun for any kid taking a trip.
- Jon Holt is regarded as the “father” of un-schooling. His book “Teach Your Own” is a great in-depth resource to learn about the foundations of un-schooling. You can also check out Wikipedia to get a good overview of this philosophy.
- Home schooling is an extremely broad topic but I found this post about homeschool and travel to be very helpful and enlightening.
Our favourite resources
If you want to delve a little deeper, here are some great educational websites and curriculum ideas as well:
- Here’s a short list of our favourite sites, (great for primary school and beyond) from our own Expat Experiment website – 7 Awesome Free Educational Websites We’re Using Right Now.
- This article Resources for Traveling Home Schoolers is huge! It’s loaded with a ton of information and links to great learning sites.
Developmental benefits that aren’t part of any curriculum
I think travel enhances education. It broadens kids’ perspective and teaches life skills that just aren’t taught or developed in traditional school settings.
There are opportunities for kids to learn on any length of trip, but if you’re planning something more long term, get ready to grow and learn a lot as a family too!
The prospect of home education can be exciting and overwhelming
Start by choosing a methodology, and consider how your child learns best. Be open-minded and flexible, the beauty of home schooling is if something isn’t working, you have the freedom to change it.
There’s no bureaucracy standing in your way.
Remember, the education piece can be customized and opportunities to learn exist all around you.
You just need to get into the right mind set!
Tracey, Rob and Makai are a Canadian family who has been traveling and doing some house sitting along the way since April 2014.
They love sharing what they learn about the places they visit, as well as documenting the challenges and rewards of living an unconventional family life, on their blog The Expat Experiment