Educating on the Road
One of the most common questions we are asked are about educating on the road, so I thought I’d give you a bit of a run down on how it works and how we honestly find it. We have been traveling for close to 6 months and I have to say that educating the kids has been the hardest part by far! We have a whole new respect for teachers! You often hear that the kids will be learning more on the road with life experience and we absolutely believe this to be true but we also think it’s important to keep up reading, maths and writing which many teachers have told me is important.
When considering how to educate your kids on the road, you pretty much have two options depending on your home state. They are:
1 Home Schooling - This is where you set and write your child's learning and requires both organising and pre planning but allows greater flexibility as no work has to be sent back or marked. You have to provide all the resources/books/lessons etc
2 Distance Education - Here you enrol in a distance education program where you receive the curriculum and educational activities that have been pre-organised and allocated. You have deadlines where the work needs to be sent back but all the preparation is done for you.
We chose Distance Education for Carter 8 (year 2), Heath 7 (year 1) with North East Public School located in Port Macquarie (NSW) who I couldn’t recommend highly enough. They have been so easy and lovely to deal with from the beginning and we all love the boys teacher Ashley who we are thrilled will be teaching the boys next year too. Education packs are sent to a destination anywhere in Australia with sheets to fill out, books to read and art and craft to do. Their teacher phones once a week for a lesson and will test them on some of the work and have general chat. Boys enjoy theses calls. Each student has work created to suit the individual child. Similar work is created for Heath and Carter to make it easier for us to teach and supervise both at the same time, but if we or the boys request something be included or not included, this would be taken into account when planning the packs.
Here are 10 common questions we receive:
1.How much does it cost?
$150 for 1 year for both boys including all the postage, books, resources including a big art and craft box. Bargain! We have met families who pay $1200 a year.
2. How much time a week do you do?
I would say around 8 -10 hours a week. Sometimes more depending on how many tears and tantrums on that day and they get school holidays off like everyone else.
3. Do you need Internet?
No we haven’t needed internet at all.
4. Do you have a set time each day to do school work?
No, but we are hopeless. I had the idea of doing school work after breakfast every morning but the reality is this doesn’t happen. Often we will hit the road early or go out and do an activity so I found this wasn’t flexible enough for us. We do chunks of school days and make the most of bad weather. We might pump 5-6 hours in one day where wine is definitely needed at the end of the day!
5. Do you have to do the work?
It’s flexible in the way that if you need more time you can get it, but the packs do have to be filled in. If the work is consistently not sent back or sent back incomplete it can be counted as your child being absent from school.
6. How did you know where to send the packs?
Ashley, the boys teacher will ring or email and say she has a pack ready and where do we think we will be in roughly one - two weeks. I will give her the local post office of the town we expect to be in at that time or I’ll give her the next one if I’m not sure of our time frame.
7. Do the kids hate it?
Yes they do!
8. Do the parents hate it more?
Yes we do!!! Only because the boys make it hard. Little buggers!
9. Am I happy with our choice of educating?
Absolutely yes. Having to prepare the lessons and borrow/buy books is just something I would totally suck at. Life on the road is sooooo busy, (I know that sounds crazy) but I simply don’t think we would have been any good at the alternative which meant the kids would have suffered. Their teacher will also send extra library books for the kids to read if we request and try and send books that interest them. I’ve met other families that home school (mainly teachers) and they have even considered swapping after seeing how easy the program makes it for us and how much they personally cater for our kids.
10. Do you think the kids have fallen behind?
No I don’t think so, but we won’t really know until they return to school. All in all I think the boys have kept up and we shouldn’t have too much problem sinking back into school and I even know what a proper noun is again! Lol Heaths reading has improved with all the one on one attention and Carter is doing a year ahead in his spelling and nailing it!
Overall we think distance education is fantastic! The biggest problem is that our boys don’t want to do the work. The last thing they want to do when we turn up at a new camp loaded with kids or great facilities is do school work. We have a deal with Heath that he must read a book everyday before his bike comes off the back which helps. The other hard part is if you’ve been traveling all day and then need to do school work when we arrive it’s absolute torture. I actually do a lot with them in the car now whilst travelling and their teacher doesn’t mind that the writing is sometimes rather messy or their is orange finger prints and food all over it! We also keep their spelling words in the glove box and constantly go over them whilst travelling which also passes the time.
We make it work, get it done and although it’s frustrating, I’m grateful we can educate whilst travelling as this allows us to travel longer without worrying too much that they are falling behind.
All the best and remember to a have cold beverage in the fridge on those long 'school days' as you will probably need it!