Travelling, Homeschooling and Loving It!
By Beverley Paine, Aut 2012
On the Unschool Australia Facebook group, Fiona noticed that as a travelling home educator she comes across many families who have taken their children out of school to travel but are stressed because they have to give their children lessons every day so they won't fall behind. This is despite the obvious fact that their children are learning so much simply from travelling! She said that one mum reported that it was the worst thing the family had done as needing to be a teacher as well as mother had ruined her relationship with her children. Fiona noticed that the families that took a relaxed approach to education seemed to enjoy travelling with their children more and could "really see the benefits for their kids, but they're still going to send them back to school when they get home!"
The stress that these parents of school children experience is silly because they can't know what ground is going to be covered by each of the children's teachers while the children are away. They can ask the respective teachers, but will only get a rough guide at best. So in any case, no matter what they do, their children will still either need to catch up in some areas or find they are ahead (and probably end up bored) in others.
Relief teachers face a similar dilemma: they can try to teach what the teacher was teaching (second guessing that teacher's plan and sometimes resources and methodology) or they can come in for a day and cover something completely different, perhaps a unit study in some particular area that the children would not normally cover. I remember one relief teacher focusing on drama for a week with a primary class with the end result of a polished video - this was back when video cameras were still a novelty and mobile phones still the size of bricks. The kids loved it. They didn't fall behind in their other lessons and were using and practicing the skills they'd already learned in those subjects, employing them to enhance their drama production adventure.
Being relaxed about education while travelling certainly helps families to enjoy the travelling experience, but it doesn't mean not focusing on education. People mix the two up all the time. You can be focused on education in a relaxed way. It's the same as saying natural learning or unschooling is an unstructured approach simply because the children aren't regimented into schedules and lesson time slots - nothing is further from the truth. Children naturally engage in complex and structured activities everyday without prompting. On the road everything is more or less planned: where will we go today; what shall we visit; will we go here or there and when we get there, what will we do. All of those questions are springboards to wonderful educational opportunities.
If more families relaxed and enjoyed being fully immersed in the fantastic opportunities for learning that travelling offers, they'd think twice about sending their children back to the limited confines of the classroom!
see also: Travelling and Homeschooling
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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