A few have asked how the school thing works. Some days better than others is the short answer to that question!
Leaving for 12 months, our options in NSW (different rules for different states) were enrolling the kids in Sydney Distance Education, which is a public correspondence school that follows the NSW school curriculum, or home schooling, where you have more flexibility to do your own thing but you still need to demonstrate you’ve met the learning outcomes as per the curriculum.
We decided to go with the Sydney Distance Ed option. Mostly due to we felt they needed to at least keep up with the literacy and maths programs that they’d be covering in the year at the school. Also because they will be starting new schools next year (still not sure where?!) we didn’t want them to fall too far behind.
For us Distance Ed has been the right decision. It does at times feel like we are trying to get blood out of stones and sticking forks in each others eyes would be more fun, but on the flip side, there is a lot of flexibility and we do get a lot of support. There is always a teacher available on the other end of the phone to help out. The testing times come with three kids in three different grades doing three different things and two parents (or one if Sean is working) and they all need help at the same time, which is most of the time. Generally there is one (varies) who will get the strops and meltdown. Things are slowly improving after a term and a half though as we’re a bit more in the swing of it and the kids realise school isn’t an optional activity. I’ve also recently introduced putting hands up if they have a question and not all talking at me at the same time. When they actually do it, it cracks me up, but it works! I don’t quite have Jacqui Shaw’s magic clapping technique down pat, but I’m working on it!
Each of the kids have a teacher allocated to them who sets the work in fortnightly blocks. It’s pretty similar to the work they would do at school. They also have a weekly call with their teachers and class mates. There are lots of kids travelling Australia (hello Muellers and Harringtons from Mona Vale!), kids in Mozambique, Tanzania, all over Asia, USA, South America. Kids who can’t attend regular school due to being in the performing arts, or they may be having treatment in hospital. There are also kids whose local school may not have the resources to cater for them, so it’s a real mixed bag. Their faces pop up on the screen like the Brady Bunch, which the kids think is fun and gives them a sense of belonging to a class.
It has given us a real insight into what they are covering at school, and a lot of it is very cool and relevant to future learning/life skills. It’s also been an eye opener as to where our kids strengths and weaknesses lie. Over hearing Lucie’s call with her class the other day, she piped up and announced that at Mona Vale they sing “The Natural Anthem” at assemblies, which is in a different language, Indonesian she thinks…. Life on Planet Lucie is very creative, there may not be much interest in reading though!
Time spent doing school work very much depends on where we are, what’s going on etc. Ideally it’s 1-2-3 hours a day, but in reality we may do 4-5 hours a day 2 or 3 days a week.
We have to make a conscious “school stop” at least a couple of days a week, to get through the work.
Balance and perspective are always good things too. They have done their work in some pretty spectacular locations and it is primary school after all, who remembers what they learned in the class room in primary school? The kids abilities to recall details of an experience earlier in the trip never fails to amaze me. Hopefully this and fostering a love of travel and adventure will stay with them forever.