OMG! You mean you’re taking your child out of school?

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?

  Update: We’ve since changed our homeschooling approach again, due to a change in our travel lifestyle. You can read about how we homeschool and travel now and how it has evolved since this post.  Keep reading this post as well, as it may be a good solution for your travels too!

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.
Quest-Apartments-Newcastle-NSW-Australia_thumb
Kalyra loves reading to Savannah

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?

Home-schooling

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.

Roadblock.

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.

Distance Education

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.

What???

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:

  1. Kalyra loves school and learning so maybe this little bit of structure will be good for her.
  2. It will save me oodles of time having to prepare stuff myself. And with our business, I don’t have oodles of time.
  3. This way I can ensure she won’t fall behind (just in case) because I’d hate that.
  4. It will give her more independence (which she loves).
  5. She can do the lessons via computer.
  6. While she is working independently, we can be working on our business. It will work better.
  7. Savannah will love watching and helping her and I’m sure she’ll learn too.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!

UPDATE: We are now travelling full time again overseas. This time we have chosen to homeschool rather than do distance education. I share why, plus my homeschooling strategy, routine, and resources in this post.

More Posts on Homeschooling:

Share your thoughts and experiences with distance education or home schooling?

Any tips?

46 thoughts on “OMG! You mean you’re taking your child out of school?”

  1. I’m so pleased you’ve found an option that seems like it’s going to work out. It is funny that there are so many rules that are based on being resident in one and only one place! This post made me think about my all time favorite school activity when I was age 5-6 which was a bag full of clippings of pictures from newspapers and magazines. You had to pull something out of the bag and write a story about whatever you got. It was awesome!

    1. Love that idea- so great for encouraging inspired creativity. Australia is just so full of rules-drives me insane! But, it’s worked out for the best I think.

  2. Sounds like you have it all figured out. I am planning on homeschooling my son. He is only 4 now but we have started preschool. I think the one on one is so much better for him. I’m sure she will benefit so much from traveling.

    1. You can’t beat one-on-one. It drastically reduces the amount of time they have to spend learning. More time for play and doing things they love–which is where most learning comes from

  3. I’m so pleased you found something that’s going to work for all of you. I think education is really important but, like you say, so much of the time in primary school classes gets taken up with trying to make disruptive children behave and the ones who actually want to learn miss out.

    I honestly think you guys are doing a great job and love that you’re not doing what everyone else does just because it’s “the norm”.

    I think if a few more parents were a bit more open-minded when it comes to education (ie. to include travel and different activities that don’t involve sitting in a classroom) we’d have a lot more “well-rounded” kids in the future.

    1. Totally agree. And I think parents need to be more involved with their learning. You see that gap quite a lot as a teacher. I felt teaching because I felt like I wasn’t really achieving much by way of teaching and inspiring children to live a life they really loved.

  4. Sounds like a fantastic way to do it Caz.

    I was homeschooled for periods of time and we moved around a lot. So it’s not something I’m interested in for my kids. I felt like it set me up as an outsider for life, but that might have been the case anyway! And I think it was mostly a personality thing. Piper and Riley are so outgoing I doubt it would impact them in the same way it did me

    1. Thanks Zoey. I think it is really important to think about the nature of your children before making the decision, otherwise it can have really negative consequences. Here’s hoping we picked it right for Kalyra!

  5. I remember asking you guys about this and expecting you to say you were going to be homeschooling! Would have loved to talk to you about it more. I was homeschooled while we travelled and ended up skipping 2 grades and I remember reading novels when I was about 6 or 7.

    1. Just goes to show the benefits of teaching kids outside of a classroom. Individualized instruction is always going to accelerate a child’s learning. In a class of 30 kids, that ain’t going to happen much! Although Kalyra’s teacher at school has been wonderful.

  6. I think it is great what you are doing for your children. My best friend is Australian and she is one of the most brilliant people one could ever meet. Her parents took her and her brother out of school to travel around when they were around 10.
    She now travels the world, is highly educated and is well known over there.
    I have contemplated doing this with my son. I say, good for you.

  7. Hubby and I both taught at Sydney Distance Education Primary School (when it was still in Stanmore) and majority of kids were off on amazing adventures. The experiences they were having were phenomenal and added so much more to their ‘formal’ education

    I became a huge fan of distance ed after working in it and plan on doing it when we eventually travel with our kidlets in a few years time.

    Reckon your gorgeous girls will thrive

  8. As a teacher for 31 years i saw many students taken out of school for travel and many other things. Learning on the road, so to speak is an invaluable lesson that cannot be replicated in a classroom. How do these children re integrate back into traditional schooling, very easily actually. They seem to gain a great independence and the skills of getting along with others is enhanced. As for distance ed. I cannot speak highly enough of their services. You do make an invaluable bond with the teachers and the curriculum is second to none. I was at an academically selective school and we had students away for travel, sports, music you name it. They all did exceptionally well at the hsc. Your children will benefit from not just the travel but also distance ed. You are doing the right thing. Enjoy and appease your conscious.

    1. Thank you so much Paula. It’s so great to hear this positive feedback and your experiences with distance ed. It’s going to be quite the adventure for us.

  9. You’ll be an awesome teacher, Caz and between you and Craig I’m sure the girls will do just fine – no better than fine … they’ll excel and be happy. Our kids went to 9 different schools and I home schooled them to begin with – which gave them immense self confidence to start out on their peripatetic journey.

    1. thank you Jo! It will be an exciting adventure. Let’s just hope Kalyra will listen to Mrs Makepeace, as she often doesn’t want to listen to Mummy 🙂

  10. When I moved back to the Hawkesbury from Sydney city I decided to go back to uni and study to be a primary school teacher. I wanted a job that I could do close to home, I loved kids and I had strong personal beliefs about kids needing to learn through play and hands-on investigation (which uni taught me is what they call inquiry-based learning that follows a student-centred pedagogy, taking into consideration each child’s natural strengths and interests). Then it came time to teach and put these ideals into practice. I was studying at the University of Western Sydney so, for my practicums I was placed in some of the poorest suburbs of Sydney, where I saw a child in a kindergarten class hold a book upside down – he hadn’t been read to at home and didn’t know how to hold a book the right way up by looking at the words and pictures. Although I’m a qualified primary teacher, in the end I decided not to be a classroom teacher. Like you said Caz, the amount of time a classroom teacher spends on behaviour management disrupts the education of the children in the room who want to listen. Although the principles behind student-centred learning are a huge step towards developing individuals rather than robots, these principles are currently ideals, they’re not reality. Until the number of students per teacher is halved – at the very least – student-centred learning will continue to be an ideal. I’d never heard of distance education for young children, but after reading your post it sounds like a solution to the problem! All the best, I’m looking forward to keeping up to date with your travels!

    1. I felt the same when I sat with the distance ed teacher and went through the materials. It’s a perfect model. I’m so glad I am not teaching anymore as I felt so ineffective and frustrated each day! It will be nice to now teach and actually feel like I’m making a difference 🙂

  11. Hi Caz,

    Congratulations on making the bold move to take Kalyra out of school and travel around Australia. Now that you’re happy with your decision to go with the Distance Education program, I hope it has put your minds at rest.

    On a number of occasions over the past ten years we took our boys out of school for 8 weeks at a time to travel around Europe. Although our friends and family in Europe were amazed that the school system would allow us to do this (you’re lucky to have one extra day away from school over there unless you are sick!), we had no trouble at all taking our kids out of school. In fact, the teachers were extremely supportive – most, like us, are of the opinion that kids learn so much through travel, that what they miss of the three R’s in those couple of months, they more than make up for in other ways.

    Our boys learnt the importance of planning and budgeting, experienced new foods, languages and currencies and were introduced to cultures and architecture that they’d never seen before – and all of this recorded in their journals.

    No doubt through Distance Ed you’ll be helping Kalyra to learn so many new things and expanding her outlook on life in a very positive way. She will thank you for it one day.

    Safe travels.

    1. Hi, I am wondering how you were able to take your kids out of school as I am wanting to take my child out of school for 6 months possibly to travel and not sure of the legalities. Hoping that you might be able to help me please

      1. It all depends on where you come from and what the regulations are. It’s best to talk to the principal of your school, who can let you know your best options. Or just contact the state education board and ask them your options. There are different routes you can take, but you can take them out of school as long as you are continuing their education.

  12. This was a great artical, i might be in that situation one day, and now at least i know a few more options and how to deal with it, so nice you guys found the “right” solution for you all 🙂 great reading.

  13. Alex | Partial Parallax

    Glad you managed to find an option that worked for you, all the red tape does sound a bit over the top but at the same time it is understandable.

    I’m sure the travelling will give your children many unique and great opportunities which will enrich their lives greatly and help them develop!

    Best of luck with the schooling and the road trip!

  14. We took out kids out of a highly sought after charter school to go on a 4 years sailing/backpacking adventure. People thought we were crazy leaving such a good school. I couldn’t believe they thought that was better than the adventure of living on a sailboat and traveling through South America. Crazy! Because we were out of the US, they had no jurisdiction over our homeschooling, so that left us open to tailoring it to our needs. At first I bought the entire homeschool curriculum for 1st grade (my daughter) and 5th grade (my son). There was a lot to it, and the first month of two I noticed we were spending more time on the schoolwork than we were exploring outside our back door. So the next year and the years following, we covered the courses they would have had back at the school, but I put in a mix of lesson plans from various places. We did follow a standard math curriculum, and science, but the rest we made up. My son, in his 9th grade, taught himself chemistry. Of course we also spent a a big part of our time learning the history and culture of all the countries we visited (over 30!). The experience itself will be the best education. The time together as a family (for us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, 4 1/2 years, was PRICELESS) You can never get that time back. The only problem they may have when they return to school is boredom. Good luck!

    1. What an awesome experience Carla!! Thank you for sharing your story. It’s made me so excited by the possibilities ahead with travel and education. I do worry about the boredom upon return to school too.

  15. We don’t have kids yet and don’t plan on having them soon, but this issue is really interesting, I think.

    I remember feeling incredibly bored and unmotivated in school. And I even went to a great school, one of the best in the country, but there were lots of potential lost there, I think.

    When we have kids unschooling will be the way we’ll educate our children. There’s no doubt about that, and I think that Kalyra and Savannah are lucky to have parents like you who are going to give them such a great education! Good luck, can’t wait to follow your adventure!

    1. There are so many students sitting in school every day bored. Children learn in so many different ways and schools can never fully cater to that. Unschooling is a great path

  16. I love your reasoning for homeschooling/unschooling. My husband and I are in the planning stages of conceiving and we are already planning to roadschool. I’ve been a teacher and tutor and find even if our lifestyle didn’t require this form of education (we travel for his work) that I would want to homeschool, since I don’t agree with the student-teacher ratio, politics, or overall agenda of both public and private schools (I’ve worked in both).
    I am actually working on creating my blog RoadschoolParenting.com to detail my parenting journey/tips and help families who want to homeschool/roadschool. I love reading about families that have the courage to focus on family and not worry about “traditional” society standards.

  17. Hi Caz,

    I was homeschooled through high school, and it was a good fit for me (an even better fit for some of my siblings). I have seen many, many advantages to homeschooling, especially when the parents have education experience like yours. I think (for what it’s worth) that you’re making a great experience and, given all the rules you’re working around, distance learning will be perfect for Kalyra. I look forward to hearing more about how it works for you!

    EWM

  18. Wow… I am just impressed of what you do, i mean everything. My hubs and i want to do something similar and it encourages us a LOT to see that it’s possible 🙂 now we only need to find something to pay the bills hehe… Thank you so much for inspiring us <3 best wishes and good vibes!

  19. I think Distance Ed is fantastic option if you are travelling at the right with that I mean you have to travel within semesters.

    My sister took her daughter out of school for 6 months April- September however her school was only too willing to help as the experience would out weigh a class room they offered work books etc. my niece was 12 at the time and returned still one of the top students in her class

  20. its so interesting I was just thinking of this. I am not even close to having children or a family for that matter but If i do I want this. I have horrible experiences of being trapped in school for 8-10 hours a day with no motivation or even worst with teachers that did not like to teach. I was homeschool through kinder because we traveled with dad (he is a truck driver-long haul) but when i had to go to primary school i was in hell. I hated not learning first hand . I think that was the reason i felt into depressions starting 5 grade because people that like to learn dont want to learn from people we want to experience it! i applaud you and hope one day to be able to do this with my children!

  21. reservationresources

    If university students can go on-line to fulfill degree requirements, then surely kids should be free to travel with their parents and be home or whatever is required for schooling plus learn from their experiences and over computer too. They will undoubtedly be better off than not experiencing the joys of extended travel.

    If coming to the USA, consider renting an extended cheap apartment or room(s) at our http:/www.reservationresources.com website.

  22. Whitney Stewart

    We pulled our third-grade son from school and moved to Japan. His school allowed it, and I home-schooled him for a few months, at three hours a day. We spent the rest of the day exploring our town of Kumamoto. My son also accompanied me on my author tour of Japan, and we toured ancient sites and studied Japanese history together. We followed up this trip to one in England, following King Arthur’s trail. Finally, we pulled my son from high school and enrolled him at online Keystone High School in PA. That allowed him to attend a creative arts school for music half day. He is now a college senior and a successful touring musician. He takes some college courses in the classroom and others online while touring.

  23. I am so happy that I came across your blog post. My fiancé and I are planning on moving from the US to Australia. The biggest worry I had was my 6 year old daughter and what we are going to do about school since she will be in the States half the year and half with us in Australia. Reading this and all of the comments has helped me calm down and realize that it can be done. There is nothing to worry about. I am so excited for Chloe to see the world and learn freely.

    If you happen to find some time, I would love some information on the distance education program that you enrolled your daughter in. Even if it is just a link, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for posting this piece. You have calmed one dad’s worries.

    Tallyho.

  24. Distance education provides a comfortable zone to the working people for pursuing their studies. The distance education courses have brought a renaissance in the field of education.

  25. Hi Caz, Love your blog by the way. I just stumbled across this old post of yours on facebook re Distance Education. We are looking at doing this with our 8 and 6 year old boys. Now that you have finished your trip, I’d love to know what you thought of the whole programme, how your girls settled into school life now, and were they ahead or behind in certain areas of schooling, are they bored in school after travelling etc.

    1. Yes! stay tuned on the blog. I will be writing a post really soon. It’s quite involved so I won’t go into it too much here. But, just quickly distance ed was a great way to do it and Kalyra has settled back into class well and is thriving. She’s quite in front in her class.

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