If you are considering homeschooling, worldschooling or roadschooling (alternative names for homeschooling whilst travelling) you’ve probably read countless number of books and blogs on the subject. For what it’s worth here is my take one what’s important and what’s not, if you’ve just de-registered your child from school:
De-schooling is really important
Let me run this past you; work and school have stopped, we’re missing friends and family, we’re never in the same spot for more than a few days and on top of all that you want to do school? It’s no wonder the answer that came back was “you are kidding, right?” (and far worse).
Step 1 of schooling to homeschooling is to de-school (forgetting everything you learned about being at school). It’s not well publicised or at least not in the books or blogs I read and yet for me it’s probably the most important.
In hindsight I would wait a minimum of 3 months before trying to introduce any formal schooling. Just to be clear this isn’t a period of no learning, it’s arguably the period of the most learning, it’s just not sit down every day and learn it from a book type stuff.
Great de-schooling activities are baking, visiting museums, art galleries and libraries, card and board games.
Don't forget your audience
I tried to teach a year 3 version of me (or the version I remember anyway which was always receptive to learning and could do everything first time standing on my head). For those of you who have know me know that this was definitely not the case!
Whilst Issy and I are very alike in a lot of ways, we learn in very different ways. When I sat down and actually talked to her, she wasn’t against doing any learning, far from it, she was so eager to learn just not in the way I was delivering it.
The journal lasted 3 weeks; she hated it! If I’d asked her to stick pins in her eyes she’d have been more receptive. From reading other blogs this is a common theme particularly in boys.
Khan Academy got the boot after about 6 weeks. Whilst she was at school, it had been great but on its own it was too dry. I still use it as part of her maths education because it’s very good at explaining concepts but we just don’t rely on it too much.
If you miss a lesson or 50 it doesn't matter
If Issy doesn’t do reading eggs or spelling for a day, a week or even a month nobody is going to die. If she misses out on a walking Thatcher (a friend’s cocker spaniel) or a climbing opportunity because of a school lesson there is a real possibility of my early demise.
This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. We’ve been on the road for almost 300 days and Issy’s completed 82 reading eggs lessons and 24 assessments. A far cry from the lesson a day I had hoped for however her reading competency, grammar and vocabulary have improved beyond recognition. Far more importantly she is now excited about reading and does it for fun!
Relax...there are learning opportunities everywhere
Learning by experience is invaluable and the great news is that it doesn’t have to cost the earth or require loads of equipment. Yes, we do paid activities but these are far outweighed by the mundane everyday learning opportunities; how much is the shopping? ; how much change should we get?; what time is it?; what time do we need to catch the bus?; how much flour do we need for the recipe?; how far have we walked?; how many steps have you done?; how long have you got left on that you tube clip?; can you identify where we are on the map?
One of our favourite activities is to give Issy the audio guide and get her to be our tour guide. She loves it, learns loads and we get an individualised tour.
Include physical activity
Issy needs physical activity and lots of it.
We find that learning in short bursts (30-40 minutes) and then letting her run about for 10-15 minutes is the best formula for learning. It also gives us both down time to blow away any frustrations of the last lesson, prepare for the next lesson and mark any work that she’s done.
In addition, the latest research shows that activities like throwing a ball increase development of the neural pathways needed to do maths and stacking cups do the same for literacy.
Follow your child's interests
There is a whole branch of homeschooling called unschooling where letting your child chose what they learn is the sole determiner of the curriculum.
I’m not that brave and I would like Issy, if she so choses to be able to go back into the school system so we follow a more structured curriculum. However, she is far more likely to tackle a reading comprehension or a writing task if it’s centred around space, the ocean or animals than if it’s about fairies.
There are days where it's far better to quite while you're ahead
This remains another hard one for me to implement. We’ve all been there, you know as soon as you see your child that today is not going to be a good day. These are the days when getting out the lego or going out are the better learning opportunities.
More often than not, if we take this approach, Issy will come back later and ask to do her schooling. Sometimes all it takes is a 10 minute play in the park and she’s ready to go.
Again it sounds simple but I can guarantee in all likelihood you too will make this rookie mistake at some point (or if you’re like me repeatedly!)
Homeschooling can be done anywhere
One of our favourite places to homeschool is the laundrette. There are no distractions and Issy knows she has 60-70 minutes to get her homework done and bam she’s never failed to finish yet.