Family travel: How to homeschool your children
Home schooling or ‘Education Otherwise’ as the IOM government have chosen to name it. The Education Act 2001 in the Isle of Man “requires parents to present their children for full-time education at school or to make arrangements for their education ‘otherwise’.”
If you plan to homeschool or World School your child/ren you must complete a form advising the Department of Education and Children of your intentions. And aside from a little correspondence, there’s not much else to it! Yes, it surprised even me!
When considering travelling the world & teaching our children we were very aware that Primary School age (under 11 years old) would be easier, but definitely not easy!
In order to homeschool many believe that you require a teaching degree or qualification… you don’t! But you need to have a plan, be organised & able to demonstrate structure & effective learning.
You need to decide what suits your child’s needs. Thankfully the internet offers limitless programmes, applications and resources at your fingertips; some of this free and some not.
Information and Support
There’s no direct support to speak of. There is no guidance offered or suggestions of what you should or shouldn’t be doing. You’ve made this decision, and now you are on your own – GULP!
Well… not really. If you are a responsible parent you would have done your homework and know that teaching any child is not as easy as it looks, not least because, you know, your kids never listen to you! But you are already teaching your kids in day to day life and re-enforcing their learning in school.
Although we haven’t received much information to date, I do believe the IOM Government are making moves to change this and hopefully it will provide more structure. As of early 2018, there were discussions taking place between the IOM Government and Home schoolers to provide a workable procedure.
What to will travel with
We plan to use a ‘Kindle Fire’ as the boys main learning ‘device’ (one of many electronic travelling devices!). We will then add the necessary applications to manage key subjects.
We will also pack a travel journal, paper & a pencil case with the bare essentials.
Firstly the boys will continue their everyday reading using their Kindles. We recently purchased Kindle Unlimited and whilst this has limited choice of ‘free’ children’s books, all the Lonely Planet books are available for our travel research, which has been great! However, if it wasn’t for the Lonely Planet books I don’t think it represents good value for money as the books aren’t that current.
Therefore, we are also using an application called ‘Libby‘. This allows you to read e-books from a Library which you are a member of. However, reading library books on your Kindle e-reader only works in America… bit difficult when travelling or living in the UK! And no, I have no idea why either!
But that’s no problem… there is a workaround – you can become a remote member of some libraries in America. We joined the Library of Philadelphia for $50, which enables us to access all their books through this method and which are more up to date
We have an application called ‘Hit the button’ to help the boys with learning their times table for multiplication and division and costs £2.99 to download.
We have also paid for an application called IXL(https://uk.ixl.com/). This covers English too and is segregated according to the year group of your child and includes reporting. The cost for is £120 per annum for 2 children for both subjects.
Whilst we have an application to provide a structured approach to their numeracy, there is a huge amount of mathematical learning that can be done while we travel using money, currency exchange rates, reading timetables etc..
Suggested Travel Games: Uno, Card Games, Sudoku
As stated above we will primarily be using IXL for English development. In addition to this, we will be encouraging the boys to write short stories based on their adventures as well as using this blog for the boys to express their travels in their own words.
I have used http://www.primaryresources.co.uk/ for story mountain planners which we can download to PDF and print, as required. This website also gives ideas on openers which can be challenging when starting stories.
As most things are online we need to ensure they maintain their handwriting, so expect lots of postcards and letters home! We hope to keep up with their weekly spellings (where possible) and have used the UK government spelling list here as a guideline.
Suggested Travel Games: Bananagram, word association game (we play this in the car), word search, boggle.
We don’t have a specific application in mind for science but have gathered the curriculum targets for their year groups and will manage this through day to day activities, books and attending science museums.
I found http://www.schoolslinks.co.uk/ to have some good material for budding scientists.
This area is more generic but there is open access to the boys school Wiki page https://www.sch.im/schools/ where we can see what topics the school are covering for their respective year group.
However, I envisage that the main topic will be determined by the country we are in, such as ‘underwater theme’ at the Great Barrier Reef, ‘Geology’ when in New Zealand, for their thermal mineral, sulphur and freshwater pools or ‘Famous artists or Architecture’ whilst in Italy to name but a few.
The boys will each be using a programme called Scratch which allows them to work on their programming and problem solving skills.
This will also be managed via the ability to be resilient and how to deal with issues, first hand, as they occur. I imagine there will be problem solving throughout our journey when connections are missed, when using new currency or just getting lost in a new place/city. The life experiences will take over much of the learning here.
Needless to say we will be using technology to assist in some countries but we will be encouraging the boys to learn basic words. However, I have seen recommendations for Duolingo (link here) as a good tool for teaching language. I’ve had a quick glance, and it looks very simplified and easy to use, so have added it to our applications list.
In addition to this, we are hoping to attend an immersion course within South America which involves attending lessons for a few hours each day (as a family) and staying in a community with a local family. Watch this space!
Teaching time per week
The statement for home schooling mentions providing ‘full-time’ education. However, there is no legal definition for ‘full-time’. We will be providing mostly 1:1 education for the children. They won’t have half term holidays, they won’t stop learning because it’s the weekend and they won’t have weeks on end practicing for their school play or assemblies. As their work will be more concentrated, we believe that we will spend between 3-5 hours per week on specific 1:1 activities.
This isn’t to say the boys will be lazing on a beach the rest of the time. We are conscious that we don’t want them to fall back on their learning. In fact, we plan to be the toughest teachers they will ever have!
In all honesty even though we have a plan we will be managing their learning on a week by week basis. I’ll keep you posted on how we fair during the trip.