We have decided to road-school our children for the unforeseeable future.
Two and a half years ago we changed our life. On October 11th, 2013 we turned it even more. On October 11th, 2013 we made a decision that went against everything we ever thought we would do.
We have decided to road-school our children for the unforeseeable future.
Ahhh!!! Are we crazy?...hmmm short answer, yes!
Why? We realized that we can give our children a better, broader, and more tailored education than anybody else. We wholeheartedly believe this.
One night we went to sleep, and something happened. Maybe a fairy visited us and sprinkled a little enlightenment dust over our sleeping bodies, perhaps we just finally got it, or perhaps it is something we were destined to do all along. Who knows? What we know is that for the last month we have been doing tons of research and praying on purpose, family, values, and our journey through this gift called life that we have been given and the lives of our children.
This was a massive decision for me. I mean really really really big. Maybe for some of you may unveil isn't that big, but if you've known me for a while, then you know that I have NEVER wanted to really homeschool my kids. Every time it is brought up I ran from it like a wild buffalo.
Even though I enjoy traveling, we had built our traveling lifestyle around me NOT homeschooling for a few reasons.
1. I like to have time to work
2. I didn't believe that I could do a good job.
3. Honestly...could I handle my children all that time?
Of course, there were a few more reservations, but these were my main concerns. The idea of homeschooling almost made me break out in hives.
Other than having fairy dust sprinkled on us overnight a few things have changed. Our youngest is now 3.5, and although he can be a bit whiney at times, he is actually TONS of fun and has a great sense of humor. You have to hear his "why did the monster cross the road jokes."
Our daughter is 6 and has a love for learning that is something furious. Although she can still give a right amount of attitude from time to time, we have found ways to work together.
After creating my personal mission statement. (great thing to do if you haven't done it) I realized that my sincere desire is to experience the world with my children. On my 80th birthday I want my children to tell stories about their experiences with their crazy parents.
We are currently able to travel the world with our children. It is a blessing that we have worked hard towards, and we want to take full advantage of it, because who knows how long we will be able to do it. This is a family decision. Both kids have eagerly signed up to ride this crazy bus. However, since they are 6 and 3, they aren't too hard to convince.
Able to change our travel
Previously we had been traveling to places where we felt their educational needs could be met. Although they are enrolled in a decent school in Mexico, they are learning at about a grade behind where they were in South Carolina. They aren't using computers, and we are pretty sure that they might be coming home with lead paint chips stuck to their bodies. (not too worried about the paint)
Then a friend of ours made a great comment about our unrealistic expectations of educational systems that could never deliver. Thousands of American schools are failing our children. How could we expect an international school to give our kids an education that met our expectations in rigor and creativity without doing lots of research, paying lots of money, and most of all staying in one location for more than 4 months? It couldn't, and we shouldn't expect it to. Excellent point my wise friend. At this moment in time we are not willing to pay lots of money or commit to a location for longer than 4 months, so we have decided to road-school.
Our daughter is now registered as a home-schooler.
(They don't have road-schooler as an option.) :)
What is road schooling?
You might not be familiar with the term road-schooling. It is exactly like what you might imagine. You take your school on the road. Homework is done in different places, and itineraries aren't always the same. Although we are going to stick to a somewhat regular schedule as that works best for our kids. The concept behind road schooling is that you are moving and having school at the same time. It is actually pretty simple.
What creates the most significant difference I believe from traditional home-schooling is that you don't have a room dedicated to school or a YMCA to take your kids to every week (unless you are traveling the US). As parents, we have to get a bit more creative in our packing, curriculum, and schedule for when and how school is going to take place.
I will be sharing with everyone our road-schooling as it unfolds, as I am incredibly passionate about it and want to share anything we do or don't do properly to help anyone who is thinking about this move forward. As I know, I was scared about this change 2 weeks ago. If you want to follow along make sure to sign up on the right-hand side of the blog.
Our Road-schooling philosophy
We have decided on using the Charlotte Mason with a bit of classical thrown in. (No worries if you don't know what I am talking about neither did I a few months ago.)
We do want to have our children tested (although not required by our state).
They will take tests on a regular basis. We firmly believe knowing how to take tests is a skill needed in the job market. Both Zeek and I have had to take numerous tests when applying to jobs and preparing them for the real world is our primary goal.
We expect that they will go to college, hopefully in Europe :)
We don't believe that this is the only way, but it is our way, and it aligns with our values.
Why did we choose to Road-School
1. Being able to keep continuity in their education.
2. Allowing them to move ahead in subjects.
3. The ability to create curriculums that fit their learning style allows us to travel the world as a family without worrying about school (a brick and mortar school)
4. Gives our kids the opportunity to get involved in the communities that we are visiting because we create our own schedule.
5. The flexibility to learn and study different subjects that generally aren't covered in brick and mortar schools, topics that we feel are important.
6. Allowing them to study subjects at different ages. Who says you have to be 15 to understand Anne Frank, or you must wait until high school to begin biology? I know Abe would love to dissect a frog right now!!
I am not the first mother to do this, nor the last. What we are doing is not that unique nor special. Which is good for me, because I have found lots of groups and few mentors that have been helping me navigate my way. It has been so reassuring and comforting to have that guidance and support.
Here is Abe is experimenting with clay and bobby pins.
What are we focusing on in our road school?
Before we decided to road school, we did tons of research on what, how, and could we do all of this. I must admit there were many sleepless nights where I was googling like a mad woman, and trying to get my eyes on any information I could. I searched the mighty internet, joined roads-schooling online groups and reached out to mothers around the globe that I knew were successfully educating their children through road-schooling. If you want to do something right, reach out to those that are doing it successfully. It is kind of like getting nutrition advice from a hefty person. Hmmm...I always wonder if they know what they are talking about.
So I asked questions about experiences, what to expect, and curriculum. This is our rough outline at the moment on what our road-schooling will look like. I am 100% sure this will change once we get going, like anything in life.
Learning a language is meaningful and fun for all of us. To incorporate this into our learning without being in a particular country we have Spanish days (where I speak only in Spanish), and the kids will use Mango Languages. Yup, Lupita (6) can navigate an online language site pretty useful. We previously had her use Rosetta Stone for Chinese, and it worked.
The importance of learning a language is a two-fold learning process.
You need to acquire an ear for the tones.
You need to have the courage to practice it.
That is it, give a person that and they can easily speak a second, third, or fourth language. I hope to begin learning my fourth language soon.
2. Core Subjects (reading/writing/math)
Ah yes, the core subjects. For these, we will choose a curriculum and project-based learning. I am excited to share more about our project-based learning projects.
The only sad part about this is that we have to travel with more books, which means we have to lug around more stuff. As the kids get older, they will be able to carry more which will lighten the load off the parents, but for now, we will have to make it work. I guess on the good side I might start building better arm muscles.
3. Science, History, Social Studies
This stuff I am so excited to do with them because we have decided to do project-based learning. Which is a fancy way for saying we will learn on a project basis with more hands-on instruction. So cool because we can pick anything!!
We will try to align our studies with our travels. Since we are in Mexico, we are going to study sharks, dolphins, Mayan civilization, and Dia de Los Muertos. Our approach (so far) is to use lapbooks. If you haven't heard of these before, please look them up. They look like informative boards that fold when you are done.
Although I am head over heels about using this method, there are a few obstacles we will have to overcome first. Like how much to carry and what can we buy in our destinations as far as materials go. It is a paper, glue, scissor based exercise. Which makes the paper and printing resources our biggest challenge. I am currently looking and researching for a solution.
4. Online School
We will also be participating in a Private Online School, although we won't start this until next semester. We have chosen the private version because the Public Virtual School requires that she takes tests in our home state. If you enroll in virtual school the public option, you aren't homeschooling you are actually participating in school choice. I do love the idea of all virtual school, but we can't commit to being in one location multiple times a year for her to take tests.
This means we have to pay for the classes out of our pocket. It can be a bit expensive if you choose the full-time option (almost $5,000 a year), however, if you do classes a-la-cart, then you pay for what you use, and each class is roughly $200- $325 depending on the subject. She will be one on one with a live certified teacher once a week for the whole semester. Lupita is really into music at the moment, and there is an excellent Juilliard eLearning Music class that we might try out to get started.
That might seem a bit expensive however we would have to pay for an international school of some kind while we traveled, and those can run a family anywhere from $200 a month to $20,000 a year depending on what you choose.
We live our lives online as most of us do these days. Although I believe that there should be time unplugged, we are firmly convinced that creating healthy computer skills at a young age is essential in today's world.
***Cute Story, if you are still reading****
At lunch the other day Lupita started talking about her new business with her best friend, Lilly. They had lots of work, and she had to e-mail Lilly and was waiting for Lilly's reply.
We still aren't sure precisely what Lupita and Lilly's business does other than e-mails; however we got a great chuckle out of her young entrepreneur spirit.
Am I scared?
Yes! Making this decision wasn't easy. There was a lot of searching within myself if I could do it. As a mother, the worst thing you want to do is mess up your kids. I worry about them falling behind, hating school at home, feeling as if they are missing out on regular school activities, driving me crazy, not learning, us not getting the work done on time, creating poor study habits, and all of it completely blowing up in my face. Yes, I have had many sleepless nights where I was up researching and researching and researching. Thank God for the internet!!
What I came to peace with was that this was going to be hard, but not any harder than what we are currently doing. In fact, it might be more comfortable. Dealing with international schools is a pain in the butt. Dealing with any formal education system can be frustrating, time-consuming, and at the end of the day pointless. Now I get to focus on my children's education and guiding them through their learning process as supposed to having zero input and dealing with broken systems.
With road-schooling the only person I have to deal with is myself. If something isn't working, we simply can change it. We don't have to do senseless activities or lose time learning because of other children's' behavior. We get to learn, explore, and play.
When is the right time to start?
Many people will say "well it is so easy because they are young, when they are older you will have to put them in school." Wrong!!
Although they are correct in that it is easier to start now, as I don't have to become an expert in advanced chemistry or find advanced chemistry, online tutor. Everything we are currently learning, I can teach since they are 6 and 3. This is a perfect time to start for me....more than for them. I can discover our routine, our road schooling style, and how my kids learn best. I can learn how to tailor activities and subjects to my creative 6 yr old and my active 3 yr old.
However, the more exciting part of road-schooling is when the kids get older. Yup, the different activities they can partake in as we travel and are flexible far out-weigh the things they would ever learn in a brick and mortar school. We can read Anne Frank and then visit her home in Amsterdam, or discuss Greek philosophy while sitting in Acropolis. They also would have the opportunity to study and work on their interests. Abe can get his divers certificate, and Lupita can take MIT OpenCourses for free. Yes, you can take classes at MIT as a high schooler for free, it is a real thing.
Our job right now is to get the hang of things; however we don't see us opting for a brick and mortar school anytime soon.
I hope no one takes this as brick and mortar schools are wrong, and we don't believe in them. Actually, quite the contrary. I attended a brick and mortar school my entire life and felt that I received a decent education. I have enrolled my daughter in 6 such schools since she was 3. I fully support the idea of public school.
However, at this time we can give our children a much better education than the public/private schools can. There are many high schools out there that are doing fabulous things; however there are far more teaching to tests and leaving many children behind. Many of the public and private schools have taken out the creativity in school, and we feel that it is imperative to succeed in the future that is unknown to us all.
This isn't to say that globe-hoping and road schooling is best for all families, it has ruined some. This is a decision that each family has to make for themselves. No one is right or wrong we are just different and can learn from each other. For ours, it has brought us together, made us realize our weaknesses and strengths, and changed us forever.
If you made it this far then, I would like to thank you!! Thank you for being interested in our road schooling adventure, thank you for following our family, and thank you most of all for having an open mind.
I am wondering have you ever thought about road schooling? Would you like to do it, but are nervous or afraid of something? Please let me know as it is always good to from other moms and dads out there in the world.