Living and Learning on the Road
by GUEST COLUMNIST
Kym Fullerton, Great Reasons to Homeschool
Our time travelling was spent singing, playing endless car games, reciting times-tables and spelling words and having lots of conversations which allow the learning to take place without the need for writing. We stopped at anything that jumped out at us that would be educational and/or fun (eg: cotton fields, salt mines, Ned Kelly's township, Crystal Caves etc). We did maths in the sand, bookwork in the parks and environmental studies in the bush.
We took one little suitcase of workbooks and stationery, arts and craft supplies etc. After a year we relented and got a DVD player for the car but only to be used in short bursts and even these can be educational programmes. We also kept a diary at all times full of brochures and write-ups at the end of a day.
We would go so far as to have full-on birthday celebrations while driving, making preparations and decorations and having gourmet picnics on our laps. We bought lap trays with cup holders to make eating manageable. We also bought a 'car organiser' that you strap onto the back of the front seats so our child had space to put her reading books and colouring books, pens, crayons, stickers, card games, snacks and water bottle etc (note: take only felt tips or crayons as they don't need sharpening therefore less mess).
We mostly took our own food (non-perishable, tin meats, baked beans, tuna, etc) in plastic tubs. We would buy fresh supplies of fruit and vegies often. We tried hard to stay clear of take-away food and lollies. Carrot and celery sticks, nuts and raisins, dates and apricots are great snacking food with a lollipop thrown in now and then. Even our coffee stops were self-made. A large thermos flask and cappuccino sachets are the way to go. Or tea bags with powdered milk or mini long-life milks and sugar sachets also. Buying half loaves of bread was a better option than having a full loaf go stale. Vegemite in a tube is so much easier to manage and anything you can buy in little sachets is a blessing. A large breadboard was a must as there were times we would have all the cheeses, olives and crackers and 'platter food' as a special treat.
It was an exercise in itself to balance everything and keep everything in its designated spot. You may be wondering why we didn't just stop at parks to eat. We did often, but some days required very long drives to get to specific locations. We even had a sturdy, canvas rubbish bin that attached to the passenger door handle and we would use dog poo bags (empty of course) as our rubbish bags as they were supplied in parks if we ever ran out and are the perfect size. And paper plates are a must to avoid too many dishes, although we did have a full picnic set with our pots and pans, cups and cutlery.
To save a fortune, we filled another plastic tub with our own washing powder, pegs and even some line wire. A first aid pack, 10 litre casks of water, insect repellent, sunscreen, mozzie coils, toilet rolls, candles, matches, lighters, gas bottles, portable gas cooker, serviettes, camping chairs, camping table, a couple of tarps for multi-uses, hammer, spare tent pegs, torches, radio, spare batteries and all those things you would normally find on an emergency evacuation list. And lots of plastic bags for wet clothing and dirty shoes is vital. We had our Camping Bible - Camping Australia , a great book for all the campsites in Australia. We had fun preparing our stay-overs in advance; firstly looking for animal friendly places (yes we took the dog and guinea pigs), next aiming for free spots, then the cheapest, then ones with drinking water, then ones with warm showers, and so it goes on. This is a great job for the children in the back seat. They can narrow down what type of accommodation is needed if you have run out of food and need shops, or haven't had a decent shower for a day or two or sometimes you take a glorious location in the national parks over a busy caravan park. You take the caravan park if you need to catch up on your clothes washing and dryer facilities.
We have a roof-top tent so we felt like tortoises. Setting up camp everyday, then pulling it all down again and putting everything back in its spot. Organisation is the key, trying to keep the chaos at bay and feeling like the 'housekeeping' is still under control. Involving the children at all times, teaching them to be helpful, useful, resourceful and cooperative while having fun at the same time. And if it's not fun at times, they need to learn that also.
Writing this has made me feel incredibly restless and I feel another adventure coming on. I love being a gypsy (now) but was always a home-girl at heart. I know now how much fun it is camping, exploring, homeschooling and keeping the family unit together while having so much fun. And, as a special bonus, you will save more money than you can imagine. No rent, no mortgage, no furniture and no real housework!
PS: We also had a little black bag with our passports and emergency contacts, address books and bank accounts and any official paperwork. We stopped at friend's places to leave the car and/or animals when we went overseas or a couple of times we took the boat to Tasmania. Which reminds me to remind you, if travelling with animals to be sure they have their up-to-date vaccinations cards should you need them to board planes, trains, boats etc. And it's always a good idea for all humans to have up-to-date health checks and carry any medical supplies you need or use regularly. And make sure you have all your internet details, memory sticks, mobile phones with chargers, cameras, laptops and gadgets if you need them and power supply units for the car if going bush. My partner needs his computer for work, so there were times we had all sorts of gadgets connected to the car lighter for internet reception and power. So remember EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE and you can HAVE IT ALL even when travelling away from home. ENJOY!
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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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