We asked you What Do You Want To Know or Have Us Show? And you had no trouble letting us know what was on your mind. Some of you were a little more shy and decided to email us rather than ask on the blog. That works for us, so thank you so much for taking the time to ask and please do continue to send us your questions. We will do our best to answer them quickly.
This question came from Nelson on “How will you keep the kids education on track with the new move?”
Great question Nelson and thanks for asking. Now I have to figure out how to write-up our crazy thoughts on this one.
The Kids Education In Southeast Asia
Just like planning for our move to Spain, there are several options for us to consider. I don’t claim to be an expert on all of these options yet, but we are doing loads of research. We will be very mobile and not in one location, so by default that will rule out the brick and mortar school option. We are in close contact with numerous families that educate their children while traveling. They all use various tools, techniques and philosophies. We just need to figure out what works for us. We also are aware that whatever we may start with, will likely evolve as we go.
A few of our schooling options:
- Brick and mortar school, public or private. A building, a dedicated desk, a dedicated teacher.
- Distance Learning Full Curriculum – fully accredited online schools, with teachers, exams, report cards. This is pretty much the same as a standard school, you just do the work from wherever you are located.
- Homeschool, World School, Road School, Travel School (you name it!)
- Online Courses/Subjects – specific resources per subject.
- Learn from life – not necessarily formatted or routine, just learn as you go.
I think one thing to keep in mind, is that we are all constantly learning no matter where we are and no matter what we do. Schools can be a great place for education and especially for socialization. Not all schools are created equal and the brick and mortar schools in Southeast Asia just didn’t feel like a good fit for us. We aren’t really trying to immerse them in another language quite yet. Also, we won’t be located in one place to attend a single school, so we have been checking out what is available and in use by others.
Upon reviewing the complete distant learning courses, we have decided they won’t be a good fit for our needs over the next year. First of all it is very expensive ($4000 – $7000 per child). In addition, it doesn’t allow for as much flexibility as we would like. There may be times when it is challenging to have good internet access. Or trying to keep track of timezone differences, to meet up with teachers or the class. Yes it is core curriculum, but it isn’t hands on and interactive. We as parents are still going to need to monitor and understand what is being taught and be very hands on.
Homeschool, World School, Road School is the option we are going to take. Believe it or not, these all have different meanings to different people. Many people think home school is school at home. The reality is the world is our classroom. In general, I think these mean the parents take charge of the learning / teaching and ensure that they find the appropriate tools to aid in that process. We can let go of the belief that an “institution” (a building, desk, teacher and playground) is required in order for kids to learn.
Exactly what are we planning to do for Education?
The honest answer is “We are going to figure it out as we go”. We plan to homeschool to some degree and use a mix and match of many online resources, as well as real life to educate the kids. Actually, this isn’t really new to us, as we have been doing this with the kids since they could talk. With both kids, we have always just made our daily life part of their education, especially so since living in Spain. We use our experiences as an opportunity to educate and sometimes the kids don’t even realize they are learning.
When we were on our 6 week summer European road trip, we learned all about Romans, Roman numerals in Rome. We attended an Opera in Verona, in a Roman amphitheater. Both of these topics were covered in Anya’s classroom this year and she was so excited that she already knew about the information and she had actually visited the locations.
In her class they not only learned what the Roman numerals were, they actually had an entire math unit on doing calculations using Roman numerals. So, having a head start by already knowing the numerals was a bonus.
What? Are you nuts?
I know, it may freak you out a bit that my answer is “we are going to figure it out as we go” and I understand that. We are going to heavily focus on Math and Language Arts, Science and Geography. The rest will just fall into place as we go. We will continue to focus on computer skills for both kids as well as typing and a variety of other skills.
You see we are really honing in on what makes our kids tick. They each thrive on different things and even have different learning styles. This of course adds to the complexity of the one size fits all mentality. We really want what is best for the kids, to love learning and flourish. Public school in Spain has been loads of memorizing and taking exams. There isn’t as much hands on as there was in the US, but that isn’t saying too much, as it wasn’t in abundance there either.
What makes Lars tick?
Lars thrives as a self-driven learner. He has a natural curiosity for anything and everything. For years he has used the internet to find answers to his questions. He of course doesn’t just stop at an answer, he goes even further to learn why, what, when, etc. He likes to know as much as possible about a subject and will stop when he is satisfied. He is a self-taught writer, videographer, photographer, and much more.
At 11 years old he read the screenplay for “Inception” all on his own. He was so inspired, he decided to write his own screenplay for a short film that he hopes to enter into the Bangkok film festival October 2014. We will see what happens, but it has all been on his own and he is one that can be given something to learn and he will learn it. We of course discuss things with him and work through problems together, but he is very self-driven. He asked if we sign him up for an online school could he finish all the coursework in one month, and then have the rest of the year off. If you give Lars something to do, he hops on it and gets it done.
We are also thrilled that Lars was accepted into a teen writing program, even though he is a bit younger. He is part of the Wandering Educators – Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program and he is absolutely on cloud nine over it. This is a 4 semester course and it is very flexible for the traveling child. The professor, Dr. Jessie Voigts, has a Ph.D. in International Education and is a great mentor for Lars. He is loving the program and is able to collaborate with other kids, just like him.
What makes Anya tick?
Anya is a hands on learner and likes to be active. She prefers to receive feedback on her progress and be a bit more interactive. She likes to learn, especially when she doesn’t realize she is learning. Sitting in a classroom all day isn’t her favorite thing to do. That said, she does love doing online courses and especially loves to do Brainquest worksheets for FUN! So we purchased the full Brainquest curriculum workbook for her and we will go through that. She likes rewards and acknowledgement, so she works best with a program that will give her that feedback that she likes and needs.
When we lived in North Carolina, she would often visit the study island program, available online via her school, and learned how to type using their typing program. Anya has an interest in anything Lars likes too. So, the older brother role model is wonderful and he has been coaching her on her study habits.
She has really become a conscientious student over the past few months and is a blooming self-starter. I have high hopes that we can get her to that level, but she does prefer the interaction of being “taught”. She likes when the entire family is having a discussion about reproduction, science, geometry, history, or whatever the topic. Interactive, social and hands on…hmmm I wonder where she gets that from?
To be honest, we aren’t really certain which grade to focus on for Anya. Remember our dilemma when we arrived in Spain? If we were in the USA, she would be in 4th grade and here is Spain she would be entering 5th grade. I guess that is the beauty of home school. We can teach to a variety of grade levels depending on their skills for a given subject. I hope this will allow us to really give them exactly what they need with an individualized plan.
What about their Spanish language skills?
We do plan to keep up with Spanish for the kids as well. We have offered Lars a fee for tutoring Anya in Spanish. We have his 5th grade course work available and he can have 2-3 sessions a week with her. The kids also plan to remain in touch via email and Skype with their friends in Spain. We have also found some online resources in Spanish for the kids to utilize as they please.
I think once we get into our travel routine, we will see what type of schedule we can create. Working one on one with kids won’t require a 5-7 hour school day. We should be able to work a couple of hours a day to cover what we need to. Both of our kids do like some structure and a routine. So, even if it is as simple as dedicated time each day for schooling, then that is what we will do. We will find the groove and not to worry, we will keep you posted on our progress.
If we were in the USA, we would need to register as an official homeschool and follow certain standards, keep records etc. We will do our best to keep track of everything, but the main goal is to make sure the kids are learning. We aren’t concerned about them “falling behind” or “missing out”. We are fortunate enough to have 2 smart cookies for kids, so we will keep those brains fed well.
We don’t know when we will return to the USA or where we would even return to! It isn’t clear what they will ask of us to enter the kids in school, but I do know they can’t refuse us entry. So, if we don’t have transcripts or beautifully organized records, are they going to kick us out? I don’t think so. My guess is they would test the kids and see where the land. If you are a teacher and you know the answer, please do share with us.
Each state has different rules and guidelines and we don’t even know where we would live. For lack of knowing, I guess we would use North Carolina as a guide. Not that we will return there to live, but it is all we have known in the past.
The bottom line is that education is everywhere and you just need to think outside of the box sometimes.
I am so thankful we have so much support and guidance from other families doing what we are doing. Between Facebook groups and blogs, we have so many experienced alternative education experts. Just check out the homeschooling highlights from one year of traveling by our friends the World Travel Family. We have also found a few on-line libraries and free supplemental resources, thanks to help from other traveling families.
- International Children’s Digital Library (free)
- Open Library (free)
- Homeschooling Library (free)
- Khan Academy (free)
- iXL – Math (grade K-12) and Language Arts (grade 2-6), 2 kid subscription ~ $150/yr
- Brain Pop – Multiple subjects, family subscription ~ $200-$300/yr
- Time4Learning – Multiple subjects, 2 kid subscription ~ $400/yr
As you can see it is all still a work in progress. Here is a little on the comparison we are doing and this list continues to grow.
I know many of you are teachers and I applaud you, I really do. I know it is a tough job and you have so many rules, guidelines and exams to think about besides your actual classwork. I know I don’t have the patience to be a teacher, but if we can naturally teach our children for the year, then we are golden. If it all blows up in our face, well we will need to adjust. It may be that we need to find a home base and a brick and mortar school, but I doubt we will need to do that.
Here is a video I found along the way in my research. Just food for thought.
I am sure you have your thoughts and opinions on this and we would love to hear it. You don’t need to agree with us to comment. We are thinking of their future and we think we are doing what is best for them and us as a family. Only time will tell, if the choices we have made were good. Even then, you never really know, as you have no idea what “would have happened” if you made different choices. As any parent does, we are doing what we think is best and hope it is.