Perhaps it is time to address the question.
What about school?
I was asked it a lot before we even knew we were going to travel around Australia for a year. Now it’s the number one question asked.
I’m surprised people are so worried about the education issue. They are probably surprised when I act nonplussed about it in return.
“I can take care of Kalyra’s education. She’ll learn more on the road than at school anyway.”
It is very easy for me to make that decision as I am a primary school teacher with 15 years experience in 5 countries around the world (including Australia). I feel confident I can give her the education she needs and follow the required curriculum the law expects.
I don’t think missing the first few years of traditional school will make much of a difference.
I’ve seen what goes on in classrooms around the world. There is very little teacher-child on-one-one ratio and so much of the learning is consistently interrupted by classroom management issues, often to frightening levels.
I don’t believe it is where children get their best education. I think they get it first from their parents and second from their life experiences- or maybe they both are of equal importance.
My daughters will learn far more travelling the world with us and there will be far less issues.
I’m not going to go into a post that bags school. Many families love it and it suits their lifestyles. I think that is great. Everyone has to do what best suits them.
I’m not a great player of society’s rules and a person to do things just because that’s the way they’ve always been done. I have to do it because I know it is right for me. I question everything. Is this the best scenario for me or is it for those who want it to be?
Kalrya just turned 6 and is half way through Kindergarten. She has confidence that took me 25 years to develop, she is not afraid to make friends-although can be shy to begin with-and she has a wild and creative imagination.
This is not me using this as an opportunity to brag about my child, simply to say what I believe the benefits of travel have already given her.
I also know school interrupts our precious family time together travelling the world.
Selfish yes I know. But is it really?
Is it really selfish to want to have your children with you every day exploring the world?
What I was worried about in taking Kalyra out of school?
I do think about my decisions a lot. I take time to evaluate the pros and cons, I gather all the facts I need to help me make the decision and then I sit with them and allow my gut to speak.
In making this decision to travel Australia and take Kalyra out of school I worried about a couple of things.
1. Kalyra loves school
We’ll secretly admit that we loved hearing Kalyra start to have a few whingey comments about school. (Is that bad?)
She does love school and learning. Although I am sure the loving school thing will soon start to change and from some of her comments it is. (Some of her other comments freak me out a little when I hear what she is picking up from other kids. I worry about the influence of peers!)
I had to think about what Kalyra loves most about school. It’s learning. She was born with her arms and legs flailing, indicative of the drive she has to be moving forward.
Taking her out of school won’t hurt her. Her classroom is going to get so much bigger and there will be no interruptions constantly eating away at her motivation. Trust me, those kids who love learning get frustrated in a classroom by those who don’t and get in their way.
2. Kalyra loves her friends
Okay this is the killer. Mother’s guilt goes into overdrive. Are we going to destroy our child’s social skills and ability to make friends? I worry about this.
But here’s what I know to be true:
- If we didn’t go on a road trip, we’d be moving, probably to Queensland, so we’d be taking her out of that school anyway and she’d have to make new friends.
- I can barely remember who was in my Kindergarten class, let alone still friends with them.
- I haven’t maintained friendships with many people from school at all.
- Some of my strongest friendships come from those I’ve shared amazing experiences with on the travel road, even if it were only for a few short days.
- Kalyra is really great at making friends with anyone. We went to the park the other day and she made friends with two girls in just an hour. She babbles away and plays like they have been friends for years. When it comes time to leave she happily lets the friendship go. No social skills affected, she has no problem forming connections and she is happy.
- I know that when we travel, she will be meeting so many different people: adults and children and having those connections that humans need.
- She’ll be spending every day with a happy Mum and Dad and an adoring sister.
Craig and I spoke about all these concerns and we felt they were easily overcome and our choice to travel Australia was still the better one.
So with those worries sorted it was down to, what do I do about schooling now? What are the laws?
We had decided that I would homeschool, or unschool Kalyra. We’d loosely follow the curriculum, but it would mostly be about learning from the environment and our experiences and then spending a couple of hours a day building those vital reading, writing and maths skills.
It would be flexible, fun and I’d be in control.
All I had to do was register.
You can’t register for home schooling unless you are a permanent resident of the state. Hmmm, road tripping around Oz does not fit that criteria.
That meant we had to enroll her in distance education.
I was unhappy about this at first because my control was going and it felt more rigid. There were actual lessons with work that needed to be completed and sent back to her teacher. I need to give a detailed itinerary of where we’ll be so lessons can be mailed out each fortnight.
This does not adhere to my life of freedom on the road. I was annoyed I could not have greater control over my child’s education. Why couldn’t I teach her while we travelled? If that is how we want to live our life than that is what we should be able to do.
I investigated a little more and I found a distance education school based in Surry Hills, Sydney. I think they say about 4 hours a day of education and for those travelling they encourage learning from the outside world and want you to incorporate that into their lessons.
I don’t think Kalyra will need 4 hours a day. I think she could move through the work pretty fast.
This is why I now think Distance education is the best choice:
- Kalyra loves school and learning so maybe this little bit of structure will be good for her.
- It will save me oodles of time having to prepare stuff myself. And with our business, I don’t have oodles of time.
- This way I can ensure she won’t fall behind (just in case) because I’d hate that.
- It will give her more independence (which she loves).
- She can do the lessons via computer.
- While she is working independently, we can be working on our business. It will work better.
- Savannah will love watching and helping her and I’m sure she’ll learn too.
- They will supply lessons for things like craft and music, which I am crap at, and because of my lack of interest will probably not give 100%. That is not really fair to her. I don’t want to rob her of opportunities to develop in ways I’m not aware of.
- It holds Craig and I more accountable.
We visited her new school
Last week, we visited her new school in Surry Hills (it’s just offices) and met her teacher.
Kalyra was so excited and really liked her teacher. We took home a bag of art and craft supplies and maths equipment. She felt like the luckiest girl and was bursting. She even pleaded with me to give her her handwriting book on the way home, so she could do a few pages.
I was also happy and impressed with how the system is set up. If only every child could go to a distance ed school, they’d have units of work , more tailored to their levels; they’d be more independent learners; there’d be no teacher time taken up managing classroom behaviour (usually 80% of the time); and parents would be more accountable in helping their child learn.
We’re excited about our new schooling adventure and are not sure if we ever want to go back to the brick and mortar stuff.
P.S It turns out Kalyra’s new distance education school used to be my father’s primary school. It’s only a block away from where he grew up in Surry Hills! Too cool for school!
More Posts on Homeschooling:
- Homeschooling and Distance Education – the GOOD & the BAD
- Home and Away – the case for homeschooling
- Homeschooling on the Road
Share your thoughts and experiences with distance education or home schooling?