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Homeschool? Me? Never!
Or so I thought.
Although I was less than impressed with my children’s public school education and where we live private school costs a small fortune, it wasn’t until about a year ago that I gave homeschool a second thought. I began meeting other homeschool families, even in random places, like an airplane.
I came across an article in our local paper about a family very much like ours, who was going on a trip around the world. For a year! All I could think was how I would love to do something like that. The seed had been planted.
Getting started with homeschool was the biggest challenge. But once we got our sea legs, I turned my attention toward the trip part. There were a lot of questions. When? Where? How long? I began turning over potential answers in my mind. After coming up with a plan and doing a lot of research I took the plunge. I bought Round the World airline tickets.
That night I couldn’t sleep since I was so anxious about figuring out the rest. Next came the accommodations and some tour bookings. Before we knew it, we were winding down our first year of homeschool and the much anticipated departure day had arrived. Now here we are halfway through our adventure! [I plan to write a future post on how I figured it all out, so stay tuned if you’re interested.]
Back to right now.
Neither of my kids were happy to hear about my mandatory one hour a day of ‘school’ while on the trip. One hour. One. I decided that we would do two subjects while traveling: math and journaling. At this point in the school year if we were at home we would be wrapping up some of our formal study anyhow and I’d already completed both of my homeschool reviews successfully. So I thought one hour was gift!
Just being on the road would teach them a variety of things. Science: what we’ve learned about wildlife is staggering. History: there are a lot of ancient places we’ll be visiting. Social Studies: pretty obvious! Religion: we’ll be touching on every major religion in the world. Health: how to stay safe and healthy on the road is a big topic. Phys Ed: does swimming, playing netball, riding horses, elephants and camels count? These, along with math and writing are all subjects that are a regular part of our home education program.
But there are life skills I also wanted them to learn. On the trip I’ve focused on a few things. First, converting the exchange rate of foreign currency. If you buy one kilo of mangostine from the street vendor for 45 Thai baht how much are you spending in dollars? Secondly, using public transportation. How do you read a map and find your way around using the subway? Thirdly, how do you navigate the airport including customs and immigration procedures?
I also wanted them to know how to ask people, strangers, for help. “Excuse me, where are the restrooms?” They were already accomplished at engaging new people in conversations. But they needed to learn when to be quiet, and how to ask questions to show interest in others. Who wants to talk to people who only talk incessantly about themselves? It’s normal for kids to be self-absorbed but it gets annoying for others even they understand. We could work on this.
Lastly, if you are traveling for two months what should you pack and how should you manage your belongings, including everybody’s favorite – laundry? Off the top of my head these are just a few of things we have been learning informally.
Still the box-checker in me wanted them to do math. The journaling was more a way for them to record some of what they are experiencing, because I knew they would treasure it later. Alas, we have not done math or journaling five out of the seven days a week. But who’s counting? The box-checker is counting, that’s who!
After breakfast one morning the kids and I were talking about getting some work done. Then my sweet ten-year old daughter said this. “Mom, even if we don’t do math every day, we are learning so much! I mean, just think. Had we never decided to do homeschool we wouldn’t be going around the world. We wouldn’t be here experiencing all these cool things!”
Smiling, I responded, “That’s an important concept your bring up. You are going to get lots of ideas about things you want to do in life. You’ll have a vision for something. Then you’ll start planning, taking steps toward making it happen. That’s what we did. Now you know what it’s like to turn an idea into reality.”
“Mom,” she said excitedly, “I like turning ideas into reality!”
“Me too honey. Me too.”