I’m thrilled to be hosting Alison on the blog today. Alison writes at Mad House Mum and is going to share her experience of travelling around the world whilst continuing to educate her four children. Hats off to Alison!
To say that the teachers didn’t bat an eyelid when my ex husband and I told them we were taking the girls on a trip around the world for 9 months, would be an understatement. It was in 2008, when the girls were aged 4, 6, 7 and 9. We left in the August and as the end of term loomed ever closer in July I kept saying to their Dad, do you think that we should go and ask for work they should be doing while we are away? Not one of their teachers had offered us any guidance. I was slightly nervous about this. It got to the last day of term and before we said our goodbyes, I collared a couple of teachers and asked them for some advice on what we needed to cover. Just keep up their reading and maths, came the unanimous response and armed with this information, we packed 6 rucksacks and off we went.
The first part of the trip was driving across Canada and and down the West coast of America in an RV. We were 3 days into RV school and thanking god it was the weekend. The pressure was off for a couple of days. The teachers could relax and enjoy their alcohol at the weekends rule. RV school had been working working well. One thing we realised was how important playtime, aka coffee time, was for everyone. Moving RV school was an interesting experience. Ex husband sat up front like a school coach driver, thinking about what he was going to cook on the barbie, while I was in the back juggling 4 curriculums, drinking the obligatory Tim Horton’s coffee, texting friends and family, dozing through reading time etc etc… all very educational. There were a fair few funny moments, such as when I was doing the alphabet with daughter 4, whose only experience of school up until then had been nursery. I asked her, when do we use capital letters? To which she replied, at the weekend! It was that weekend rule again!
In Canada, identifying bear and moose poo took up a great deal of home schooling time and once we had fondly ditched the RV in America, we continued on our way to Australia, New Zealand, Asia, China and South Korea. Home schooling had become a fairly relaxed affair. We would generally have school in the morning and the rest of the day was ours to explore. Many days, however, were taken up with no school and ‘educational trips’. On walks in the Rocky mountains we discussed glaciers and glacial lakes. In Australia it was flora and fauna. China was a time for History lessons and Disney Land provided the opportunity to discuss Economics. Home school took place in parks, in hostels, on the top of mountains, by lakes – we morphed in to our surroundings.
On our return, daughter 4 entered her reception class. It was her first experience of a real school. I was nervous before her first parents’ evening. This was the test: had her Dad and I done a good enough job? The feedback was all positive. I was asked by the teacher whether I had any questions. “How do you find her concentration?” I asked. “We found that after a couple of hours of home school, she would be laying her head on the table and giving up.” The teacher looked me straight in the eye and said sternly: “Mrs Longhurst. We expect 1 minutes’ concentration for each year of their life and then they get a break”.
It was at that point that I realised that we could have drunk a whole load more coffee.