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Sunset South Australia, photo from http://wandering-photographer.com

Seeing Australia isn’t not something you can rush. Well you can, you can just come for a few weeks, see the Sydney Harbour Bridge, relax at the beach and head to a theme parks, feed a kangaroo and head home. Which is all fantastic but it’s like trying to see all of the USA in a week – sure you can fit in LA and New York but what about Yosemite and the other amazing national parks, the lakes, the Grand Canyon and the desert? To name just a few.

You can spend a week exploring Australia and have an amazing time, but if you really want to see all the natural beauty of the country you need to think longer. A lot longer. You could spend two years driving around the country and still feel like you haven’t seen everything yet.

We decided to spend four months last year camping around Australia with the hope of seeing most of the east coast, around to Adelaide and up the middle. It only took us a week to realise there was no way we could cover that ground. Each place we visited we wanted to stay longer, see more, enjoy more. Each beach was that beautiful we wanted to stay longer. Each camp site offered more opportunities to get close to wildlife, ride bikes, play and explore. The outback was so stunning as it rolled by we could have driven through it for weeks … probably a good thing as to reach many spots this is exactly what you need to do! The Snowy Mountains in summer … wow we’d move there forever thanks! We ended up covering 1/3 of the distance we originally intended to.

Camping is a great way to bond with your family, but we all need a break every once and a while. If you’re traveling Australia and starting to feel the effects of cabin fever, you should consider getting a hotel at least somewhat frequently. It will give you all some much needed comfort.

That’s probably why there are so many families on long term voyages around Australia. Here’s six of our favourite blogs by families travelling around Australia (plus a few more about to start their travels!)

 

Livin On The Road

Livin On The Road are a family of 6 who have been caravaning their way slowly around Australia for the past two years. I have to admit every time I read about their adventures I get a little jealous. They really know how to enjoy the best of Australia’s outdoors. After the last year in Victoria and South Australia, they’ve just crossed the Nullabor to reach Western Australia. The father, Jarrad, also blogs at Wandering Photographer with some fabulous photos and great family destination suggestions for remote areas you’ve probably never even heard of.

Red Gorge Central Australia, wandering-photographer.com

New Life on the Road

New Life on the Road are a family of six who set off last year to explore Australia … just a little earlier than they had planned after the mother, Lisa, bought a bus off eBay sight unseen without telling her husband. That was just the start of their adventures! If you want to know more about them and why they made their decision to explore Australia in a motor-home, I’d really recommend reading their 17 reasons article. I can really relate to it.

 

Holiday Road

Anyone who can fit 11 people … yes 11 … in a bus, along with two dogs and a bird has our admiration. Holiday Road have been travelling for six years around Australia with no end in sight and still finding new places to explore. I love looking at their photos of places that seem so far away and the kids always look like they are having such a brillant time.

 

Sparkling Adventures

After exploring New Zealand in a converted horse float, Sparkling Adventures are now working their way around Australia. I love reading their insights on life, family and travel. They also seem to have a knack for finding the best spots and outings for children in each location they visit.

 

A-dventure …

After two years exploring every state and territory of Australia, this family of 6 have decided to stop a while in northern Queensland. I’m sure this isn’t the end of their adventures – school and life in a new area, lots of new place to explore and friends to make.

 

Family in a Van

Originally from Australia’s most expensive city, Sydney, we’re not surprised that this family decided to leave their life of working too hard and sacrificing time to make enough money to live in favour of a better quality life altogether. If we were to create an award on Vagabond Family for the coolest mode of family transport, their Combi van would surely be a contender.

 

twelve apostles

 

Leaving soon

A number of other Vagabond Family members are also preparing to set off to explore Australia in the next few months. We’re looking forward to reading about their travels.

 

(Thanks to Wandering-Photographer.com for the first two photographs in this post.)

Today is the first of our new series of “Family Interviews” that I will be publishing every Wednesday. I think it’s about time that we all got to know a few families that are here on VagabondFamily.org. The lucky first family to be interviewed is the Denning Family who are currently in Mexico on their journey from Alaska to Argentina. I’d like to thank them for their personal commitment to getting up at 4am in the morning to work on their blog (you’ll see what I am referring to a little later in the interview). I have been following the Denning’s journey from the beginning and I have to say I am completely and utterly inspired by them, with a lot of envy thrown in for their truck and roof tent setup. If you have even spent 5 minutes with me you’ll realise I am a little obsessed by travelling in an RV, Expedition Vehicle, Travel Trailer or Truck. So to see other families doing this is absolutely amazing. Anyway, enough of me telling you about them, let hear from them directly.


From the highs of real estate investing and to the difficulties during the Global Financial Crisis that hit the USA to now undertaking a trip from Alaska to Argentina with five children. You guys have lived a pretty amazing life in the last 10 years. Can you give us a little backstory on your journey so far as a family?

We started out life normal enough. My husband graduated from college, then took a career where he planned to work until he was 65. We bought a house, adopted our first child, and then the rest followed naturally.

But by the time we had number three, the idea of travel and humanitarian work began to fill our heads. We started investing in real estate, with the idea that we would make lots of money, and then be able to travel the world doing good.

That plan kind of worked, for a little while. It allowed us to finally take the leap, and we moved to Costa Rica in 2007 (driving from the U.S. with our four children – ages 3 months – 4 years at the time).

With the Financial Crisis of 2008, our income dried up and we returned to the U.S. to find employment. But we were still bit with the travel bug, and so began making plans for our next adventure. It was around this time that we began to realize that you didn’t need a lot of money to travel, as long as you combined your ‘travel’ and ‘living’ expenses – making them one in the same.

We set out again, this time to the Dominican Republic (using savings, and some online contract work), where we lived for six months. Next we moved to Atlanta, Georgia for six months, where my husband was offered a position in India with a non-profit, which we eagerly accepted.

We spent five months in Southern India, before returning to the U.S. (this time Alaska) to have baby number five – Atlas.

 

It’s not always easy starting out a new lifestyle that most people don’t understand. Do you have any insights or suggestions for people who are currently thinking about the way they are going to tell their families that they want something different?

I don’t know that there is an easy way to tell others who don’t agree with your views what you plan on doing. I don’t know if it’s the right approach or not, but we usually didn’t tell people our plans, until we were ready to do them (I guess that’s why some consider us to be sporadic and spontaneous).

We would often plan and plan and plan in secret, only discussing amongst ourselves (Greg and I), until we were ready to launch, and then break the news. It’s a method that has worked for us, based on the relationships we have with our families. (Now they are used to our crazy antics, so very little we do is surprising to them).

Ultimately, we didn’t share because we didn’t care to hear their nay-saying opinions. They didn’t matter to us. We knew what we wanted to do, and we were going to do it. Trying to defend it to others was just draining on our time and energy. And when we announced what we were going to do, instead of what we were intending or thinking about doing, the reaction was totally different. People feel less inclined to talk you out of something when they can see you’ve already made up your mind (i.e., you’ve bought the tickets 🙂 )

Why are you travelling from Alaska to Argentina?

While living in Alaska, before and after the birth of our fifth, we considered if we should settle down somewhere, and where that should be. We looked at Colombia, Hawaii, and Thailand.

The more we discussed, analyzed, pondered and prayed about what we really wanted, what we really enjoyed doing, what brought us the greatest joy, we realized that we loved exploring and discovering new places.

While living in Costa Rica, we had our own vehicle. We loved the freedom it provided. While living in the Dominican Republic, we relied on public transportation, and it really limited our ability to explore.

We also recognized that although we loved living abroad, what we really liked about it was the ability to discover new places, people, food and culture – but that staying in one place for ‘too long’, we tended to get bored. So we decided that we 1) wanted to have our own vehicle and 2) wanted to explore new places as often as we wished. Driving seemed like the most logical option. And since we were in Alaska, we might as well start where we were, and keep going all the way to the bottom.

The more we considered the idea, the more we liked it, until we knew it was the next adventure for us.

 

You are travelling with your whole family in a Vege-powered Truck with a Rooftop tent. Can you tell us a little about your life in the truck.
How long does it take you to set up each night?

We usually try to look for a place to camp no later than 4 or 5 p.m. (It’s usually dark around 6:30 CST in Mexico). It takes us about 15 minutes to set up the roof top tent, get out blankets and pillows, and start preparing dinner.

Do you sleep in the truck every night or do you often stay at motels or with friends?

We usually sleep in the truck, but we have been invited to stay with many friends along the way, which is usually for more than one night. We have paid for a campground only once, and have never stayed in a motel or hotel. I think occasionally we’ll rent a little house for a month or so, in a place we really like (near the beach!) just for a change.

What are some of the logistical challenges you have on a day to day basis?

Some of the biggest challenges are probably dealing with inclement weather (rain), it really puts a halt on our activities, and we have to wait for the tent to dry to pack up and get moving again.

The other challenges are common for most travellers in Latin America – trying to find what you need when you need/want it – internet, laundry, showers, replacement parts, etc. It can be very time consuming.

On top of that, it’s just ‘normal’ living – disciplining children, working on projects, reading, exploring, preparing meals, shopping for groceries, etc.

What are the best things about travelling in your truck?

Freedom! We get to go where we want, when we want, and have everything we need right with us. We never have to worry about having a bed to sleep in.

Would you mind telling us how you fund your lifestyle?

From our first adventure in 2007, we’ve tried several different tactics – essentially we’ve done whatever we could to make it happen. Originally we had an income from real estate and the stock market. We worked in the States and used our savings. We’ve done freelance work, had a job with a non-profit overseas, created websites, and have been paid for travel writing.

We also learned to simplify, and to really minimize our expenses. We discovered that we preferred to use our money for travel and adventure, instead of buying doo-dads or even paying bills (that’s another reason we ‘moved into’ our truck – it allowed us to eliminate many living expenses, such as utilities, rent/mortgage, etc.)

For years we’ve dreamt of creating an income from our website so that it would produce enough money to sustain our lifestyle. That became a major area of focus while in Alaska. We created a course on lifestyle design, as well as other information products, to help others in their travels, and to design the lifestyle of their dreams.

Using what savings we had (and with some work lined up along the way), we left Alaska in April 2011, to begin our journey. Since then our website as continued to grow, and now brings in enough to cover our very limited expenses. Our plan is to keep growing so that we have a healthy cushion of income to continue adding to our savings, and to cover monthly expenses, as well as occasional one-time costs (like shipping our truck from Panama to Colombia).

Having travelled a fair bit ourselves with young children (albeit 2 children rather than 5) does it ever get too much? Do you think your children are any harder or easier to deal with than if you were settled down and back at home in the rat-race?

I think kids are kids – whether you’re at home or traveling, they will get tired, cry, fight with their siblings and complain. I think the biggest difference comes not from your location, but from the parents ability to handle the situation – at home or on the road.

Our kids are good kids, and like most children, can adapt to lots of different situations when given the chance. I don’t think they are necessarily any harder or easier to deal with because of our lifestyle (again, I think that depends more on me), but I do see that they are more developed because of the number and variety of experiences that they are having. They might complain about being tired and not wanting to walk anymore, but they still do it, because they’ve learned that there is no other option. If you don’t keep walking, you won’t get back to the truck. They’ve learned to deal with things in a way that they wouldn’t have learned without certain key experiences that are a result of our lifestyle.

While you are travelling with 5 young children, do you guys as parents get anytime to yourselves? Do you get the opportunity for the occasional “Date Night”?

Greg and I get time to ourselves usually early in the morning. We both wake up between 4-5 a.m. to work and write. It gives us quiet time that we really miss if we choose to sleep in!

As for ‘date nights’, we usually spend that time together after the kids go to sleep (which is usually pretty early, around 7:30 or 8 p.m. When the sun goes down, and it’s dark outside, and the only light is from the light in the cab, you start to feel sleepy 🙂 )

Occasionally we’ve taken a night out to a restaurant, when we’re staying with friends and can arrange for a babysitter.

I recently watched a movie called In Time with Justin Timberlake, where the currency was time. It is something that I think a lot of Vagabond families understand well. If you had a week of time left on your clock what would you do with it?

This is something that Greg and I have talked about. My own father died of cancer at the age of 45, and Greg’s brother-in-law is facing an early death. We’ve asked ourselves what we would do if we didn’t have long to live, and our honest answer is that we would take this trip together as a family.

I guess something I would change is blogging about it 🙂 It is a lot of work (which I enjoy), but if I was going to die, I’d give that up to spend even more time with my kids.

You’re living the dream of so many other families (mine included :)). If money and finances were completely taken out of the equation what is your dream?

We are living our dream, which is very refreshing. If finances were taken out of the equation, and there was no limitation on what we could do, we would make a few changes:

  1. We would stay at a hotel about once a week (more convenient for laundry, internet and showers). We honestly love the simplicity, closeness to nature, and increased number of experiences that overland travel provides.
  2. We would do more costly, adventurous activities – like when we drove into Valle del Bravo, Mexico and saw that they were hang gliding, we would have jumped on it in a minute if we weren’t following such a strict budget right now.
  3. We would keep traveling and traveling and traveling. After we finished North and South America in our truck, we would set sail to the South Pacific, or overland in Europe, Africa and Asia.
  4. I would hire someone to do all the editing of my blog, photos and videos.

That’s our long-term dream. And I believe we’ll get there 🙂

I have no doubt that they’ll achieve their dreams and over the course of the next couple of years probably create a whole heap of new dreams for us all to follow. Thanks again to Rachel for taking the time to answer some questions.

If you have any questions for Rachel or Greg please feel free to ask them in the comments and I’ll ask Rachel or Greg if they might occasionally pop in to answer them when they get the chance.

When we first started planning to travel long term with our two young children, I suddenly realised “Crap that means I’m going to be homeschooling my son”. It wasn?t something I?d ever considered. I always just pictured my children heading off for their first day of school in ridiculously oversized uniforms wearing backpacks three sizes larger than a sherpa could comfortably carry, like everyone else that we knew. Then we decided to travel while Colin worked on the road and I was suddenly faced with processing the notion that for us to travel, I’d be homeschooling both of our children through early primary school! 

“No problems” I thought. I was halfway through a education degree specialising in early primary teaching and had worked as an ESL teacher in South Korea. I remembered how to do long division, could explain how volcanoes work and what killed the dinosaurs … roadschooling was going to be a breeze! 

Three days into our trip I realised I’d been a little over confident. 

The challenge?

The content that you need to cover in lower Primary school really isn’t that difficult or time consuming. Apart from some formal maths and literacy lessons, the majority of the curriculum can come through every day experiences that children soak up. More and more countries are moving towards a play-based, experiential program with authentic real world experiences in the early years of schooling, which is exactly what homeschooling on the road provides. It’s not the curriculum really that’s the problem, it?s the other challenges …

Like starting from scratch

In upper primary and high school, for the most part you are building on already existing skills. When you are teaching a child in early primary school, you’re teaching them from the very beginning. The very beginning! Why we write letters from top to bottom, read from left to right, phonics, how to sound out words, grammar, why ‘i’ comes before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ (except when it doesn’t), addition, subtraction …  as an adult you’ve probably been doing these things for so long it’s hard to remember WHY it’s done that way, let alone how to explain it to a child.

And what about just simple things like attention span? One thing children learn at school is how to sit and listen for prolonged periods of time. If you’re roadschooling a child who has never been to school, you’re also going to have to help them learn this skill.

Lack of interest in an area

Another challenge can be lack of interest in a particular area. Maths, Science, Reading … the area of the curriculum may vary, but the challenge remains the same – if they’re not interested in an area it can be really hard to teach it when you are on the road. Our son is just not just interested in literacy, particularly not in writing. He’ll happily paint for hours, thinks maths is fun, will spend half a day focused on imaginative activities, has well developed social skills and knows his stuff when it comes to dinosaurs … but sight words and writing are met with groans and excuses. Even bribes of lollies and ice creams don’t motivate him for long. 

But …

Despite all the challenges, roadschooling our children has been easier and a much more rewarding experience than I ever anticipated. Yes there are challenges but the benefits outweigh them. In Australia, our son?s birthday fell right at the end of the cut off period for starting in 2010 – which would have had him starting school at 4.5 years. Having homeschooled him, I know he wasn’t ready then and would have hated the first six months of school. But holding him back for a year would have also been the wrong choice – he was ready to start by halfway through 2010, which wasn’t possible in the traditional school system! Roadschooling has provided him the opportunity to start when he was ready. It’s also given us the flexibility for him to tackle each area of the curriculum at his own speed, when he demonstrated an interest in learning that subject. For example, we started working informally on mathematics six months before learning phonics. Many parents report similar experiences with their children.

Roadschooling lower primary school

Putting aside the challenges, how do you actually teach the lower primary school curriculum through roadschooling? It’s actually a lot easier than you might first think. The best place to start is to speak with your local school or department of education to out what the expected outcomes for each area of the curriculum in the early years of schooling are. If you are lucky, your local school or Department of Education might actually have a document that is user friendly! Ideally you are looking for a document that tells you for example, that by the end of Kindergarten, children are expected to be able to count to 20, make a repeating pattern, read 100 most common sight words, etc (these are just random examples that vary greatly from country to country!). Once you know these you’ll find it’s not so hard to develop your own curriculum to meet these. 

Literacy:

Literacy in lower primary school tends to cover three areas; ‘communication’, ‘reading’ and ‘writing’. Travel offers ample opportunities for children to expand upon their communication skills. Family dinners out, meeting children from new cultures who might not share a common language and learning how to use non-verbal communication skills to play together, working together as a family to decide where you are going today, recounting a trip to the zoo or a mountain. Trust me, your children will probably end up better communicators than any of their peers.

Reading can be a challenge on the road when you are limited to only a small number of story books. But you can make up your own stories at bedtime, listen to audio books and visit lots of bookstores or libraries to read from their children’s books whenever you can. A laptop and iPod will probably become your best friend – online phonics programs, online children’s storybooks, PowerPoint slides for sight words, iPod flashcard and phonics programs, storybooks for the iPod. There is a huge range of products out there for preschoolers and lower primary students. To cover the writing component, as well as working through a workbook, your child might like to keep a written journal or create their own story books. If you are all sitting down to watch a movie together, get the children to make tickets for everyone and movie posters. If you’re going on a daytrip, help the kids write a timetable for the day. Create a pretend restaurant at home and let the children be waiters taking your order. Spending a week at the beach? No problems, spend each morning writing giant letters and words in the sand.

Maths:

There are many excellent maths curriculum’s for lower primary school children so you may choose to work from one of these. Or you might like to come up with your own games and activities as you go. The key to teaching any new maths topic to young children is break it down into three steps – use concrete examples, then symbolic, then abstract. If you are teaching repeating patterns, start with blocks, then once that is mastered move on to drawing those block patterns on paper and eventually move on to patterns that are only on paper, be they shape patterns or number patterns. 

Lego is more than just a great toy ? it can be blocks for counting, addition and subtraction. You can use it for measurement and geometry. Learning to play different card games can cover a lot of areas of the early years maths curriculum, not to mention being a great whole family activity. Data and graphing can a lot of fun to teach on the road. Buy a packet of coloured sweets, like smarties, and set the children with the task of sorting by colour and then graphing them. Carry a skipping rope with you and have a daily skipping challenge for a month to see who can skip the most number of times without touching the rope, then graph your results. Measure the children’s heights and compare them, give them a rule and set the up measuring everything in your hotel room. Give them the job of paying for small items like apples at the markets or their own ice creams and teach them to count change in different currencies. Estimate the speed of different modes of transport that you take in one day (tuk tuks, cars, trains, bicycles) or even just count the number of cows and chickens they see along the side of a road that you see on a day out.

Social and Environmental studies:

In most early primary syllabus, this refers to your child developing:

  • a sense of personal, community, national and global identiy, 
  • an appreciation for diversity,
  • an awareness of environmental issues, 
  • a basic understanding of history, geography, culture and change,
  • the ability to distinguish between needs and wants.

Travel will help your child develop these skills better than any classroom or textbook. They will see these issues on a daily basis. The hardest part is knowing the answers to their questions!

Science:

Travelling offers amazing opportunities for learning science. How better to understand how volcanoes are formed than to drive to the top of one? Or to learn about endangered species by visiting a rehabilitation centre. Take every chance you can to visit museums, science centres and zoos, and then go home and use online resources to research them more. It’s even possible to carry out small science experiments on the road. If you have a fridge with an freezer and ice tray in your room get the kids to add different ingredients to water like sugar and salt, and time how long they take to freeze. It’s a great way to help kids understand why lakes freeze but the ocean doesn’t! Then let the ice melt and learn about the different states of matter. Stopping somewhere longer? Buy some seeds and grow them in water to learn about germination. Staying somewhere with a pool or bath? Let them learn what toys sink or float and try to get them to figure out why.   

Arts & Music

In the last year we’ve taken music classes in Indonesia and Cambodia, seen water puppet shows in Vietnam, traditional dancing in Thailand, acrobatics and dramatic performances in Cambodia and taken art classes in Malaysia. The children have listened to music from around the world, put on their own plays with hand crafted puppets bought in Laos and acted out their own stories before bed. Even if you are not a creative person yourself, the internet has hundreds of blogs made by incredibly creative people with fantastic ideas that you can adapt for activities on the road, provided you always travel with a good supply of colouring materials, an ample amount of sticky tape and glue. Actually I can’t stress this one enough – colouring supplies, scissors, sticky tape and glue will become your new best friend for entertaining children and schooling!

Actually I can’t stress this one enough – colouring supplies, scissors, sticky tape and glue will become your new best friend for entertaining children and schooling!

If you are stopped somewhere for a week, why not collect any cardboard boxes or juice cartons you might use (or ask a local store for any empty boxes they might have). With a little imagination your children will be creating robots, cities, airports, trains, fairy gardens. With a little paint, some good sticky take and stickers the options are endless. We’ve even turned pizza boxes into a puppet stage and made our own puppets from cardboard, chopsticks and marker pens.

A great idea can also be to work art lessons into your literacy or science lessons. Learning about jungle animals in Science? Why not find pictures of the animals on the net and get your children to observe them and draw then accurately. Illustrate your own stories or draw pictures for book reports. If your child is old enough to use a camera, help them create their own animation by taking photos of a drawing that they create step by step. 

Share your experiences …

Have you roadschooled your own children through the early years or Primary School? Was it easy or a bigger challenge than you were expecting? Do you have any secrets for inspiring young children to learn areas of the curriculum that they’re just not that interested in? 

In the next few months we’ll be putting together ideas and resources for all the areas of the school curriculum, so if you have a great resource or idea we’d love to hear from you in the comments below and then we’ll put them together into a great resource for everyone. 

 

 

 

 

  • ?You?re brave?
  • ?Rather you than me?
  • ?I couldn?t do that?
  • or ?I?d love to do it, but I just don?t have the patience?

These are just some of the common responses that homeschooling parents get. When you are travelling, you are still going to face these same misconceptions and challenges. Education is not something to be daunted by.

This is to be an introduction in our series on education, or road-schooling, for VagabondFamily.org. It will focus on the benefits that road-schooling can entail, and try to ease concerns for future travellers. Future articles will follow with information on methods, curriculum, styles, and the legalities of home education for different nationalities. For now though, we?ll focus on convincing you that it is a lot easier than you think.  My personal opinion is that this age group is the easiest to home school, and to travel with.  This article focuses on primary and middle school children, who have already learnt to read.  Kids of this age are often independant readers, and with basic reading skills already in place, this may be one of the easier stages.

What other travelling families have said:

?We?ve all learnt so much as a family while we?ve been travelling. The kids have seen that Mum and Dad are still learning, too.?

?The kids now realize that learning comes in many shapes and forms ? it?s not just something you do from 9 ? 3 in a classroom.?

?They have learnt so much from their travels, it?s been incredible watching them grow and learn.?

?I was so worried about my own ability to teach them, we nearly didn?t start travelling. Now I don?t know what I was worried about.?

?They?ve learnt more than they ever could have learnt if we?d stayed at home ? and that?s in spite of me!?

Convinced?

Think back to your school years. If your school was anything like mine, it would have consisted of reading books and watching films together in your English class and then analysing the text as a group. You would have done basic sciences such as chemistry and biology. A foreign language class was compulsory, but I didn?t do so well at it because it just seemed like memorising long lists to me. We did art, cooking, and physical education. Then we had a rotation of social studies subjects from geography, history, environmental studies, international studies, and politics.

I?m going to look at these in reverse order. The social studies are almost so easy to teach while travelling that you don?t need to think about them. Visiting ruins, shipwrecks, and museums it is all there in front of you. It?s living and it’s interesting. Think about it.  History? Would you rather learn about Australia?s convict past while walking around the historical prison at Port Arthur, or would you remember and enjoy it better reading about it in a book? Are you going to appreciate why a particular coast is called ?Shipwreck Coast? looking at the photos and memorising statistics and dates, or are you going to be inspired by standing on the cliffs sprayed by droplets of ocean water?

Geography is not just a name or feature on a map, but conjures up images of cliffs, deserts, chasms, canyons, oases, and reefs. Your children may see ancient rainforests being logged and the effects that this has on the people, land, and animals in the area. Or your children may get the opportunity to walk through mines, and have those images to draw back on. Visiting different countries or even just travelling around one country is a far better way to learn about geography than staring at a world map. It provides memories and a context for children to base their understanding within. 

Politics and international studies come alive when you roam from country to country.

Politics and international studies come alive when you roam from country to country. Your children aren?t hearing about some foreign irrelevant place on the news ? they are riding or walk through the streets of these countries and experiencing it for themselves.

What about learning to Read and Write?

In my opinion, there are two aspects to language teaching that are really tricky. The first most kids seem to do without too much help ? they learn to talk.  They listen to their parents and other people around them and begin to understand what is being said, then they start to talk.  The second is teaching them how to read. If you have an older child who can read and talk, this area becomes easier. It depends on the child, but some can just be handed an e-reader or book, and will avidly read a large selection of books. For others, they may need to have assigned reading time. In our family, we find that the kids tend to use the time travelling to read. Our family will discuss books that we?ve read or audiobooks that we?ve listened to. This is done in place of having formalised book reports like you would have in a classroom.  We understand that reading, spelling, and grammar are some of the biggest educational issues for travelling families, so they will be covered in other articles.  

Foreign Languages

What about teaching foreign language while travelling overseas? You?ll hear the locals using it, and there will be a reason to learn it. Your child will probably learn a few words and phrases of the language just to get around even if you are there for a short time, or you may spend longer in that region and the child may begin to speak the language. It will seem relevant, and they will be more inspired to learn. 

Learning Maths on the Road

Math is one subject where many homeschooling and travelling families have widely differing approaches. You may choose to cover maths from a text book or curriculum. Others may make the child calculate how long it will take to get to the next town when travelling at a certain speed, calculate the amount of change needed at the shops, or convert one currency to another. The approaches taken vary dramatically on age and child, and this will be the focus of a future article.  It is just too much detail to cover here.

 

How to teach Science on the road

?I couldn?t possibly teach science, I don?t know it well enough myself?

?I couldn?t possibly teach science, I don?t know it well enough myself,? is a common stumbling block for homeschooling families, particularly as the children get older. We?ve found that travelling often helps with teaching science. We?ve found a perfect skeleton of a kangaroo with bones picked clean by scavengers. We?ve seen the effects that an ancient inland sea has had on the landscape in central Australia, and then seen sand that is half-way between being sand and sandstone. We?ve learnt about how opals are formed, and different types of rocks and how they are formed. We?ve laid on the ground staring up at the sky with a sky chart to find the various constellations and planets.

Any and all of the Science subjects can be learnt just from the places you visit. How much you focus on these, and the depth you go in to them will depend on you, your child(ren), and how interesting you find the particular topic.

Get inspiration from others

To finish with, I?d like to share a few examples that I?ve seen recently in family travel blogs:

?Soul Travellers 3? recently blogged about their sponsored travel trip to Jordan, and their daughter?s opportunity to see this peaceful country, surrounded by many others that are currently undergoing massive civil unrest.  

Family On Bikes” have summarised some of the best learning experiences they had in 3 years of cycling from Alaska to Argentina.

?Travels With A Nine Year? recently described how she used staying in Catholic monasteries in Asia to explain some of the religion to her son.

?Vagabond Kids? shared how they experienced classic Indian transport and a traditional Indian wedding.

1 Dad, 1 Kid, 1 Crazy Adventure” discussed experiencing a communist country in Cuba.

The kids from ?The Edventure Project? shared with ?The Great Family Escape? their experience of riding in the typical South American Chicken Bus.

?Our Travel Lifestyle? has discussed the logistics of carrying enough resources for homeschooling.

And across at ?Livin On The Road?, my own 10-year-old son has recently shared his views on what it is like to be road-schooled from a child’s perspective.

What is the right way to Home/Road School?

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to home/road school, just different opportunities to teach and educate your children. In future articles we’ll be giving you some suggestions on how to take advantage of different opportunities that you’ll come across every day in your travels.  We’ll discuss different styles and methods, curriculums and resources.

In the comments below we’d love to hear any unique opportunities you have had to teach your children something based on the location you were travelling through. In my article above I have outlined how we taught our children about Australia?s convict past while walking around the historical prison at Port Arthur. Share with us some of your favourite experiential teaching opportunities.