Homeschooling on the road, or World Schooling as it is sometimes called, can be a daunting undertaking for both parents and children, but it doesn’t have to be. Outside of a formal class context, school doesn’t have to follow the same rules and structures but instead can be an immersive part of everyday life interwoven with the travel experience. In this article I outline how we successfully used blogging, already a common activity for travelling families, as part of the travel school ‘curriculum’.
School without Borders
Is it okay to take kids out of school to go travel? Will they keep up? Will we cope? Unequivocally, Yes, Yes and Yes! We are in no doubt that our kids have benefitted hugely from their year out of conventional school even with untrained and ill-disciplined teachers such as us.
We gave our school a name, The Rubbish Travelling School, and a coat of arms to make it proper. So yeah, the school was Rubbish but it was the best learning experience ever!
Live the Learning
Travel will not only improve their grasp of world geography and languages but also build so called soft skills in cultures, religions, self-confidence and empathy for others, all things that are becoming more and more rare in formal schooling. Even hard subject such as maths or physics spring up everywhere, not just in the everyday currency conversion but in describing the aspect ratio of the Acropolis, calculating the capacity of the Indian railways or discovering how the Egyptian pyramids were built.
Unsurprisingly, living the learning really works and is the testimony of many a traveling family. Traveling with kids is such an enriching experience for bonding the entire family. It is fantastic to see a child steadily become more and more adaptable as they traverse new and newer environments. To watch as they discover details, connections and relations and all manner of people and places around them without it having to be ‘taught’ in the conventional sense.
Of course alongside keeping their minds active and learning away from formal school we needed to think a bit about how they would be able to slot back into the madding crowd following our return. We found that getting them to journal and blog was key in getting them to reinforce and remember what they were learning and experiencing during our travels while at the same time keeping contact with those back home.
Sometimes, we did feel the need to dig our heels in as responsible adults and also educators to get our kids to reassure us that they were absorbing all this fantastic going-on around them and learning something.
This is where writing blogs served as an important learning and reinforcement tool. Of course the idea of having a blog was primarily as a line of communication with friends and family as we travelled, however in reality it was key in our traveling school tool set.
Blogs and Journals
Our boys all kept journals and also blogged occasionally. They were daunted by the task initially but then just got over that with a bit of practice and really started to enjoy and take pride in the process of posting a well written and sometimes quite funny (link to Samuel’s blog) account of their experiences. They especially loved getting comments from friends and family following a posting on our travel blog. This is where we noted that blogging became such an important educational tool. It served to reinforce their experiences, educational and emotional, it became a way to never forget. In terms of learning new stuff, writing down experiences expressly for others to read is not a straightforward task, it is demanding of some basic writing skills concerned with successful communicating. This gave us opportunity to step in, in our role as educators,honing in on their strengths and weaknesses. We felt it important to guide them but not dictate to them in the telling of their story. So we chose not to heavily edit their entries, which really preserved their viewpoint at that point in their life. This is also where we really appreciated the different perspectives of each family member on the same experience. It became grounds for several lectures on philosophy! The kids also benefited from learning some basic computer skills during their blogging.
In short some obvious pros of getting the kids to blog:
Reinforces what they are learning/experiencing
Allows them to revisit experiences in the past, to write is to remember
Allows them to do really meaningful schoolwork, that is also really fun!
Gives an alternate viewpoint on shared experiences; we learned about our kids
Makes their perspective valued as friends and family read and comment.
Teaches some basics of blogging/computer literacy.
A rewarding experiences for kids as they get positive feedback on their posts
After the Trip
Of course aside from being a key tool in our home-schooling toolkit during our world tour, the journals and blog remain as eternal memoires of this beautiful time to re-read and share. Our blog is now beautifully converted into a book using PixxiBook, a very pleasing memento of our truly unforgettable family life experience. The boys are very proud of ‘their’ book, in print.