Tag Archives: homeschooling

Our World School: An End of Year Report

30 Dec

A living room with chequered tiles set up on the ceiling, at Scienceworks, Melbourne

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For anyone planning longterm travel with kids, anyone who would like to travel and is delaying having kids to do so, or any parents who would love to travel but feel they can’t because of the kids, probably the single biggest concern is what sort of education a child will get on the road.

This is also a major source of anxiety for other family members, particularly grandparents.

Honestly? Education, once you get the hang of it, is one of the easiest things about travelling as a family. I’ve posted before about the wonders of unschooling, a child-led approach to learning. I’ve also posted about the sheer hell of imposing a school-y structure on travelling, AKA death by long division.

Most of Z’s learning is hands-on, supplemented by almost entirely self-directed reading. We spend very little time on more formal learning, though I’ve had to learn a lot myself to keep up with his questions on the places we visit.

Here’s the end of year report card on my now-ten-year-old son’s roadschooling. I’m hoping travelling parents, prospective travelling parents and, for that matter, others considering alternatives to the school system, will find it useful. Continue reading

Buddhism: the Planet’s Whipping Boy?

18 Jul

Yak dressed as Buddhist monk, from Dance Mat Typing programme.[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]It’s often said, generally by Christians of the scary-to-very-scary variety, that folk can be far ruder about Christianity than any of the world’s “great religions” and get away with it.

Now, when it comes to what my ma used to call “the People of the Book” but now terms “the Sky God religions”, this may well be true. When it comes to Buddhism, however, it seems that anything goes.

Even on the BBC! In fact, the nine year old has recently put fingers to keyboard and sent a stern email to the Director-General of the Beeb.

It reads, in its entirety: Continue reading

Unschooling. Or Learning as You Go.

23 May

Climbing a ladder on the back of a sangthaew taxi-van. On the Mekong, Four Thousand Islands, Laos.

About to cross the Mekong. Laos.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]It’s a truism that one learns by travelling, and a cliche that travel broadens the mind.

From the days when English noblemen embarked on that aristocratic GAP year, the Grand Tour of Europe, to today’s school trips, summer camps, foreign exchanges and volunteer placements, travel has been key to education.

So, when we went to see the nine-year-old’s school before we set out on our long journey around the world, it seemed pretty obvious that he would learn far more travelling on four continents and fifteen or so countries than he would in his (extremely good) London primary.

Although I wouldn’t have expected his headteacher to make that point for me…

One thing I didn’t really know, though, was how the learning would work. So where we’ve ended up, after some vicissitudes, is with an educational philosophy called unschooling. Continue reading

Unschooling Rocks!

24 Apr Drawing of the troll battle in Artemis Fowl

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Well, I am quite childishly excited today. This unschooling approach has really worked wonders!

Parents, grandparents and a never-ending stream of teachers have sweated blood and tears trying to get my (epically) reluctant writer to put pen to paper for more than two seconds at a time.

So I almost fell off my chair when he piped up, “I’m going to create a folder in my Essays and Stories folder called Aliens. And then I’m going to invent some aliens and put them in there.”

“Oh!” I said, not quite believing what I was hearing. “Are you going to write about the aliens or draw them?”

“I’m going to write about them,” he says. Continue reading

Butterflies and Mimosa

22 Apr

Young tropical butterfly perched in garden

Only a day old, and under a fortnight to live

I’ve always been a fan of provincial museums. Which probably comes from growing up in an era when the Thomas the Tank Engine road show meant one man, a trainset, some photos and some index cards, hammered out on the kind of manual typewriter which takes the circle out of the O, rather than today’s arena-packing multimedia extravaganza at thirty quid plus per head.

And, since he got to see T-Rex footprints being cast and hold real meteorites and dinosaur bones, at the Dinosaur Museum in Savannakhet, Laos, Z’s a convert too. So, naturally, we loved the butterfly garden in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Continue reading

The Mysteries of Maths…

21 Mar

Z in riverside bar, Vang Vieng, Laos

No, Please, Not Maths Again.

“Home” schooling this week has been, I think, quite successful. Z has produced a gorgeous picture of a Mekong sunset, and a piece of descriptive writing about the Mekong which is not only highly effective but, even better, entirely U-rated.

Having sat through at least four years of parents’ evenings, listening to a selection of teachers express their bewilderment at how an articulate child who could read before he turned three will not complete a piece of writing at any length longer than a paragraph, this is a real coup.

Then, of course, there is the maths. Continue reading

Age Appropriate Reading

9 Mar

Z with puppy

The Auteur with a Friend

The creator of the immortal line “The bitches mortared the piss hole and it didn’t blow up! has, this evening, completed his reading of Chickenhawk, which, while still a wonderful introduction to a soldier’s experience of the Vietnam War, becomes even less age-appropriate during the closing twenty pages or so.

He is lying on his bed, looking small, cute and studious, vestiges of the ice cream from his pancake still on his face. “Mum,” he says. “What does ‘semen’ mean?” Continue reading

Creative Writing

8 Mar

Lakeside pavilion, Forbidden Purple City, Hue, Vietnam

Perhaps a Safer Creative Writing Topic than the Vietnam War?

As part of our homeschooling topic on the Vietnam War, Z has been reading Chickenhawk. While not as “adult” as the current meaning of the title suggests, Bob Mason’s account of flying helicopters during the Vietnam War is, I suspect, a very accurate description of how soldiers lived and, more relevantly, spoke.

So I’m not sure what part of my brain was engaged when I suggested to Z that, when crafting his creative writing piece on the Vietnam War, he should be sure to include some dialogue to bring his characters out a little more. Continue reading

Mum, Mum, Your Hair is Turning Green!

6 Mar

Z jumping into a poolWhen does a child count as a swimmer?

I guess the baseline test is chuck them in and see if they sink or not. This is how swimming was “taught” a generation ago, with a teacher on hand to haul the sinkers off the bottom with a long pole.

Z’s passed this for some time, albeit long after he achieved his first swimming certificate. Ten metres!!! Go figure. Continue reading

In Which We Slay the Hydra

1 Mar

Z takes aim with an M60, Cu Chi TunnelsWe have won the long division war!

Once Z started humming the theme tune to 2001 at volume, I knew we were going to be OK.

“My god,” I said. “Is that 2001?”

“Yes,” he said. “I feel like I’ve made a great accomplishment. And it’s not 2001. It’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

“Whatever,” I said. “It’s not far off the invention of fire.”

“I feel that way too,” he said, pen hovering over some tedious carrying operation. “Was it the invention of fire in 2001: A Space Odyssey?” Continue reading