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How to Keep Up Your Child’s Education While Travelling- A UK Perspective

It may or may not surprise you to learn that not only is the number of children being home-schooled on the rise: so is the number of children learning on the road. For anybody who gave up their 20’s to get on the family and mortgage treadmill, the idea that you could let go of it all for months, even years, but not compromise on your children’s education probably sounds too good to be true. But as an ever growing number of bloggers and writers are showing, it’s possible- and it looks like a whole lot of fun.

Why are parents choosing to ‘road school’?

First things first, home schooling is protected by law. It’s completely legal, so long as children receive a ‘suitable’ education. That being said, the government don’t precisely define what they believe to be a ‘suitable’ education, so the focus is really up to you. It most certainly includes basic skills like reading, writing and arithmetic, the National Curriculum more broadly, and physical exercise. So long as your home schooling curriculum covers these basics, it doesn’t matter whether you teach them at home or on the road.

There are all sorts of reasons why parents are deciding to take their children’s learning on the road. First and foremost, many parents are unhappy with what they perceive as an excessive emphasis on testing and grading, when they think that education should be about development. But there are a multitude of reasons, from dissatisfaction with the school generally, to special needs, bullying, and religious concerns. [6]

For their part, the Department of Education disapprove. “Obviously, we do not condone it. Children must receive a suitable education. Even missing a week of school affects children’s attainment,” a spokeswoman told the Guardian. This shouldn’t come as much surprise considering their focus for the last twenty years on targets, goals and statistics. So, who should you believe? Will it help or hinder your child’s development?

How is it possible to balance the demands of education with travel plans?

This really is the million dollar question. We already know that it’s legal to ‘road school’, but is it really possible not just to enjoy a culturally enriching experience, but also to learn in a measured, structured way? Well, it might be difficult, but it can be done. We have a few tips that could help you plan and structure your own child’s road schooling experience!

Susan Hamlyn, the director of The Good Schools Guide educational consultants, spoke to the Telegraph about how it’s essential to keep some element of structure or framework if you road school your children, or for that matter, home school them generally. So, when travelling, allow time for freedom to roam and explore- but schedule some time each day for more formal learning too, with targets and set tasks.

Hamlyn also said that it’s just as important to find opportunities to collaborate and even compete with other children, especially if your plan isn’t to home school your children permanently. This is for two reasons: first, if your child returns from home schooling without having been a part of the collaborative and competitive environment found in schools, it’s likely they will react badly and could fall behind. But it’s also important to build up social skills which can be hard to achieve at home.

Keep road schooling relevant with reference to an online curriculum

Just because you’re taking your child’s education into your own hands, that doesn’t mean you can’t use the same textbooks, curricula and teaching standards that the education system use. And considering the wide availability of material available online nowadays, it couldn’t be easier to keep up with the curriculum while on the road. So long as you have a laptop or tablet and access to the internet, there is a world of resources available at your fingertips.

You might start by browsing the national curriculum, which is available online to peruse at your leisure [7]. It is divided into key stages, and also split into subjects, to make it easy for you to find out exactly what the government believes your child ought to be learning at each stage of their education (and make sure that your child is learning at an appropriate pace). Alternatively, try researching independent schools, as many of these choose to share their own curricula on their websites.

Once you’ve decided what your child needs to learn, you’ll be able to research just about any subject to find materials that you can use to aid them in their learning (and you in your teaching). There are educational games, worksheets, quizzes, study guides, and many other kinds of resource available online to help you with your child’s education.

For example, you could consider using a website such as duolingo.com to help with learning languages. There are even websites offering online teaching in virtual classrooms, such as net-school.co.uk. These sites are set up for people of all ages, and would be perfect for learning on the go.

Always remember that socialisation is just as important as Maths or English

Of course, one of the major benefits of sending your child to a traditional school – and a drawback of home-schooling – is the opportunity for socialisation. Interacting with other children and adults is an important part of a child’s upbringing, and children who are educated at home can be in danger of missing out.

This is where road schooling, however, has a distinct advantage. Travelling offers your child the opportunity to meet and interact with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Before moving to a new area, search online for clubs, groups and activities in your new town that you could sign your child up for. Whether these are educational (e.g. language or reading clubs), extracurricular (e.g. sports clubs or music lessons), or are just for fun, they offer a wonderful opportunity for your child (and you!) to meet new people and make new friends.  

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jan/29/is-world-schooling-kids-selfish-family-travel-edventures
[2] https://www.ytravelblog.com/homeschooling-travel/
[3] http://www.vagablogging.net/how-to-educate-a-child-while-traveling.html
[4] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2016/08/17/we-plan-to-travel-and-home-school-our-son-for-nine-years---how-s/
[5] http://www.withoutahitch.com.au/caravan/homeschooling/
[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-35133119
[7] https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum

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