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Thinking About Travelling and Homeschooling?

by Beverley Paine, Aut 2012

The main objective of going away with your family is to have fun. It is easy to lose sight of that when packing the bags and/or car, particularly if you have children aged under five years. I remember always packing as though we were going to stay for months on a desert island: the joke was "Did you remember the kitchen sink?" Well, no, but I did include a small bowl that could be used as one if necessary. Despite careful planning and very long lists we generally forgot something and that was okay, because it usually wasn't hard to find a substitute in the bush, or more often than not, pop into the nearest shop to buy one.

So the first message from this seasoned traveller is slow down, relax and enjoy the packing stage of going away. Start preparations early and make a game of it with the children: paper chases can be used to lead children to collect items they need to pack in their bags. Getting the children involved is a great way to teach them to be organised, to plan ahead, and it also gives them some responsibility and ownership of the holiday.

As a young mum I read that the best way to prepare for a holiday is to pack everything, and then unpack and remove up to half of the items. That's counter-intuitive to being a mum! It took a few years for me to acknowledge the wisdom of this and eventually I learned how to pack 'smarter'.

Rather than take enough for the whole trip I planned to top up along the way, or buy when I get there. The children had their own bags, of a certain size, and everything they needed or wanted to take had to fit into the bag - including clothes, toiletries, toys and games and favourite teddies.

Travelling light is definitely the way to go. Teach the children that young and they will enjoy travelling for the rest of their lives.

The best preparation, I've learned, is to take a deep breath and trust that no matter what, you'll be fine, the kids will be fine, solutions will be found to problems that arise, as they always do. In other words, expect the unexpected and let go of any anxiety you feel around the 'what if' scenarios that usually plague you. After all, you're on holiday too - you deserve to relax with the rest of the family!

If you think, or have been told, that very young children get no benefit from travelling, that it is too stressful, think again. Sure, you'll encounter some hassles, and yes, it will tire you and the little ones out, but only if you don't build in some 'down time'. Aim to spend a few hours a day doing 'nothing': that is, no sight-seeing, excursions to places of interest, or visiting friends or family. Make sure you spend an hour or two each day simply playing with your children. This will ease the tension that comes from feeling that you have to cram everything into your holiday.

Children benefit enormously from the change of environment and the introduction of new sounds, sights, smells and activities. Very young children still need a sense of routine and appreciate familiar things happening at familiar times, and so long as you meet these needs they'll greet the changes with enthusiasm and interest. Travelling inspires the imagination and creates a sense of wonder about the world in both adults and children. So don't be put off. Don't delay until your children are older. If you love travelling and have itchy feet, set those travelling plans into motion now!

There are a number of homeschooling camps held around Australia each year. Keep an eye on your local newsletter or state magazine for details. There area a number of Australian home education support networks for travelling families, plus some groups to connect people who love to organise homeschool and unschool camps listed in the Support Groups Resource Directory.

see also: Travelling and Homeschooling .

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since 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. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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