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SCHOOL OR HOMESCHOOL?

School or Homeschool? – Nearly every person I know, family, friends, acquaintances, they all say the same thing to me. “You’re going to have to knock travelling on the head when Esme goes to school”. Initially I respond with a vacant, ‘yeah,’ whilst racking my brain about what I can do.

I never questioned if our kids would go to school or not. I always thought I would look for an establishment with alternative attitudes to teaching and learning. Having researched, a lot, I came to the conclusion such schools don’t exist without it costing a significant amount in private fees, or, we would have to live in an area that may not be so appealing for the sake of said school.

SCHOOL OR HOMESCHOOL?
SCHOOL OR HOMESCHOOL?

I had NEVER considered homeschooling for a number of reasons. Needing my own time, continuing with my career, not actually wanting to teach kids, lack of confidence in my abilities, the list goes on. Reflecting on my reasoning, it sounds really selfish, right? It’s all about what I want for myself.

School or homeschool
Learning how to make a fire and basic living skills

That takes me to my own school experience, as well as my husband’s. Hubby says he wasn’t massively motivated in school and the only real thing he got from it was a solid group of friends in secondary. For me, I hated every minute of it. Ok, I went to school in Ireland in the early 90’s in an all girls establishment.

It was a catholic school and was run by the sort that thought I was possessed by the devil because I was left handed. The sort that humiliated me by asking me to stand in front of a class and read, even though they knew I couldn’t. I have never forgotten those days.

SCHOOL OR HOMESCHOOL?

I know how much that has impacted on my own mental state, lacking confidence in my abilities for years. As a child that was kept back a class because I wasn’t smart enough to keep up with the other kids, I HATED school, every minute of it. I felt like I was no good at anything and came away from school with nothing other than a battered confidence that ran deep into my bones.

Learning the role of a vet at a children’s museum

As for the all girls thing, what the hell is that all about? That is NOT a reflection of society. Don’t even get me started on gender identity. I luckily changed to a mixed school aged 14. Whilst it was much better, it was too late. Friendship groups were well established and I was an outsider.

I didn’t fit in and subsequently finished school with one long term friend. I was glad to have been in a mixed school for the chance to mix with boys. It was hard to adjust, but I’m glad I didn’t leave school having never spoken to one.

I developed academically later. If you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll know I found out I was dyslexic when I was 22. Having realised how I can best help myself, I began to enjoy studying and learning and went onto ‘up’ my nursing qualifications and did a Masters in Education. I became very passionate about making learning for students in my profession a positive experience.

Learning about how an airport runs at the museum of flight

So as you can see, I have some major hang ups with mainstream school. Ok, we are in the 21st century and not everyones experience is the same. I am sure things are much better these days than my experience.

SCHOOL OR HOMESCHOOL?

Then there is the issue of taking kids out of school during term time. It can come with the risk of a hefty fine in the UK. Yes, that actually happens! Parents get fined for taking their kids on a trip during term time.

The alternative? To pay an arm and a leg to take a family holiday during the planned school break. Airlines, hotels, tour operators, everyone, they take the piss and hike the prices up when they know desperate families want to travel.

I can’t understand the rationale for the fine. We all know holidays have multi-factorial benefits to the entire family. Whether it helps parents de-stress, or a fun and educational tour for the kids, it’s all beneficial and contributes to happiness, positive mental wellbeing and family relations.

SCHOOL OR HOMESCHOOL?

I have been reading a few articles by the inspiring Hannah from Adventure Travel Family. She and husband Patrick have always homeschooled their kids and have recently taken off on an indefinite world trip. Luckily for me, they don’t only write about travel, they also cover personal experiences of ‘unschooling’ their children.

I asked Hannah for a list of reasons why she doesn’t send her kids to school and this is what she came up with:

  • Developmental sciences show that children learn better through free play.
  • It also shows that testing in the way UK schools operate is damaging to mental health.
  • Home education provides more time for children to focus on activities they are interested in.
  • Provides a better ratio of adults to children to facilitate learning or help academically.
  • It allows children to socialise with kids of all ages, not just those their age the majority of the time.
  • It allows a more flexible lifestyle where travel and experiencing the real world can be a bigger part of their childhood.

This resonates with me and I agree with all of the points. That said, I want to take the lead from my kids. Would they enjoy mainstream school? I already know from Esme’s personality that she would want a solid group of friends.

For that, we will need to settle somewhere and have a community that we can dip in and out of. That’s something we don’t have at the moment but I feel we still have time to build it.

SCHOOL OR HOMESCHOOL?

With every situation there are pros and cons. I mean I am a committed mother, but, hubby and I are going to need time to ourselves, to progress our careers. I would like to think we can take a similar approach to how we manage things now. We take turns with everything.

I have no idea how things are going to pan out. At the moment I am just going through some serious thought processes. I feel a hybrid approach could work well? Maybe we enrol our kids in private schools wherever we are for a term here and there.

I love the idea of forest school. I know parents with kids the same age as Esme are now going through the horrific school selection process. Will they get picked for the school they want? Or will they end up in the one no one likes because of a postcode lottery.

Being on this year long trip, without even trying, we are already homeschooling. Here is an example: Esme and I were doing a workbook and chatted about the lifecycle of a butterfly.

Two weeks later we went to a butterfly farm and I was blown away at how she engaged in the tour. She remembered everything that I told her. I was so chuffed with myself and it was this tiny little situation that made me think I can do it! I can teach her in a fun non-pressurised way.

SCHOOL OR HOMESCHOOL?

I really love the idea, if she doesn’t feel up to something, fine, let’s move on and come back to it later. As a kinaesthetic learner, I love doing things and so far Esme is showing similar learning preferences. I feel this will benefit her more than a class situation where there’s one method that has to fit all.

I am so glad to realise there are more options and we DON’T have to send the kids to school. Most of all, I am very glad my hubby is onboard with these thought processes.

I’ve wanted to get this onto paper for a long time. I am feeling a sense of relief! I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you found school or homeschool helpful? Please feel free to leave a comment.

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Edith Arteaga

Monday 22nd of January 2018

I regret not homeschooling my kids. I had no idea I could do so in my adopted country since this option doesn't exist in the country where I grew up. My sons are older now, 12 and 9, and we love to travel as much as we can. Sometimes I have to ask for a whole week permission at school because a trip overseas during low season. As they get older, it gets more difficult to leave school for several days but it doesn't stop us. Traveling since they were little is showing its benefits. Our kids have developed a sense of appreciation for foreign cultures, art, architecture, history, geography, gastronomy and music not common for their ages, and this is one of the many reasons that keeps us planning our trips as a family. I can't imagine how cool would be to combine these experiences with homeschooling. I always remember when my oldest was 7 years old. I took him out of school for the first 3 months of the school year when we moved to Beijing because husband's work. My boy learned how to navigate Beijing's subway system!

Nick

Wednesday 8th of November 2017

I love this article & this looks adorable! I would like to thank you for your great job. Keep doing the best and good luck!

Katrina

Saturday 4th of November 2017

I'm pro-homeschooling all the way! I was homeschooled all the way until university, and my parents were able to take us on so many wonderful trips and vacations due to the freedom of not being shackled by term calendars. And I received a great education; I was accepted into and attended one of the top universities here in the U.S. Socially, you have to make more of an effort so that your kids have peer interaction and play time, but in the US, we have a lot of homeschool co-ops to meet other families and their kids. And I had martial arts, softball, and church group, which is how I had my group of friends.

Feel free to ask any questions about what it was like being a HS'ed kid and graduate! Good luck in making the best decision for your family!

Brooke

Saturday 4th of November 2017

Hey guys, I was homeschooled in Aus till year 6 and although I didn't always appreciate it then (we were still a very 'involved' and social in the community) it did work wonders for my creativity and time management.

I knew that if I chose to take ages with my work and muck around that I would be there till 3pm like a normal school kid? However I usually finished by 11am & could take time in my own hobbies. When I did go to school and finished my high schooling in the mainstream system I was far ahead of my peers.

I also think (and most importantly) it allowed my folks to instill values into me that helped me to navigate teenage hood better had I gone to school from day dot. The first time I heard swearing was when i went to late primary school!

Now im married and have two little ones and we're leaning towards home schooling for us as well. Good Luck :) Love your blog too!! ??

Sam

Saturday 4th of November 2017

Gosh reading this is so refreshing. As a society we are so tuned into following the 'norms'. Got to school, get a career, get married, have kids and so the cycle repeats.... I have discovered a passion for travelling be it later in life and truly believe that's the World is a real learning tool. I too hated school but would have never dreamt of homeschooling my own or having the confidence to do so. Where did you get the confidence to think outside the box Karen ? I salute you

placespicsandnotes

Saturday 4th of November 2017

Your kids are already learning so much about the world! There's no way they will learn as nearly as much about it from books sitting in a classroom. Keep traveling! You are giving them the best education by introducing them to different cultures, nature and people. Whatever you decide, they are very lucky and I'm totally jealous ?

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