Schooling on the Road

Figuring out how to school my children while we are traveling has been one of the biggest concerns of our adventure to Europe. There are so many choices for homeschooling but homeschooling on the road, is a little bit different. In many communities there are homeschooling groups that seem to be very successful but for us, a computer and wifi are what we will rely upon.

I only looked into homeschooling because of our extended traveling and may not have looked at it otherwise. Homeschooling definitely is gaining in popularity and since researching about it, I can easily see why. With the unfortunate state of our schools, social issues and the bonus to have such influence on your child’s education, make homeschooling very appealing. We have been fortunate to have had a very good experience in public schools and have been in good school districts.  I have the utmost respect for the incredible teachers and principals we have had.  Of course, there are always “issues” though and I can only imagine how hard it must be for so many.  I definitely now see homeschooling as an excellent option for anyone who may need an alternative type of education. Once we return from our trip and head back into the traditional school system, I will know we have an exceptional “back-up” plan, if needed, and may end up going that route anyway depending on our experience. I have found several traditional schools that are becoming more flexible to the changing climate of education with more independent study programs suited for individual children, I think this is a wonderful trend. It is so great to get out of that box.

We will be using an online homeschooling program, as lugging around textbooks is not a good option. I plan on supplementing with history, art, foreign language, geography and cultural activities in the countries we are visiting. I am amazed on what there is online these days, really a limitless source of education. I have been collecting an incredible list of online resources and have been using some of them as we finish up the school year in our public school (some are listed below). 

We will gather all the required standards for our daughters’s grade levels to make sure all our bases are covered. We also have to file a private school affidavit with the California Department of Education, we become a private school. We have to keep attendance records, as well. All of this seems doable but I will keep you posted on how it all goes.

Obviously, my children’s education is incredibly important to us and their life experiences are as well.  I am hoping the combination of traveling and schooling will open up their minds to the endless possibilities of life.  They can do anything they want to do, no limitations.

Below is a list of resources that I have found.  Some I have used, some I plan to use…  Most are free but some do have membership costs.

www.khanacademy.org

www.time4learning.com

www.brainpop.com

www.xtramath.org

www.cut-the-knot.org

www.spellingcity.com

www.bbc.co.uk/skillwise/english

www.storybird.com

www.chompchomp.com

www.gosocailstudiesgo.com

www.sciencekids.co.nz

www.howstuffworks.com

www.scistarter.com

www.sciencetoymaker.org

www.kidsdiscover.com

www.makingmusicfun.net

www.artsconnected.org

www.web4.audubon.org/educate/kids/

www.pbs.org/teachers

www.superteacherworksheets.com

www.theteacherscorner.net

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Do you believe in signs?

My husband and I have talked about taking off and traveling with our children for years. It was just a matter of figuring it all out. What would be the best age for our girls to go, what about taking them out of school, would they miss out too much, what about homeschooling, what about our family, friends, finances, house, the list goes on and on and on. We had spent years casually talking about a trip around the world or part of it, anyway, and then all of a sudden it really seemed to just take shape. Timing was a big part, my husband had been uninspired with his job for a while, I was still trying to get something going, the economy tanking, we knew we needed a change.

We had been living in the Los Angeles area for two years and found ourselves in a place where we could really consider making this dream happen. One day, when I was cleaning out some storage boxes I found a scarf from when my husband and I had traveled to the South of France with some friends, years before we had our children. I remember seeing this stylish French woman with a beautiful scarf tied in her hair and suddenly I was on a quest to find one, I did, and had stored it away at some point. To find that scarf, as we were seriously considering our dream trip, solidified that this was what we were supposed to do. There were so many reasons not to go but that scarf was such a sign to me that we had to make it happen. We bought one-way tickets to Paris so that was it, we were committed, we were going.

I have definitely had my questions on whether this adventure of our is completely insane but I keep going back to that scarf, that is my sign and I think of it when the doubts creep in. I am about to depart on what I know will be a life changing adventure for myself and my family, life here I come!

 

Home is where your heart is…

You know how nice it is to come back home from a trip (no matter how fun that trip maybe) and sleep in your own bed?  Well, that is not something we are going to be doing for a long time.  Goodbye nice comfy bed, I will miss you!  It is time for me to branch out and find other beds to slumber in.  I know not all will be as sweet as you but it is a risk I will have to take.

In a way, I feel like we will be almost gypsy like in our nomadic life.  The longest place we have booked so far is for a month.  When we were first planning this trip, I thought it would be great to stay in an area for 2-3 months to really have time to dig in a bit, but with so many incredible places to discover, our time in each area has to be shortened.

I have found some incredible places to stay using several websites, maps and hours of time.  We like places off the beaten path and unique.  I have found a houseboat to stay in on the canals of Amsterdam and a treehouse for rent in Northern France.  It just takes a little digging.

So our home is definitely going to be where our hearts are for the next several months.  They will all be a little different, but they will all be our “home sweet home,” for that moment of our lives and I am thrilled!

Building an European Itinerary

To plan or not to plan…  Well, with two kids and 6 months plus of traveling it seems like we need to have at least a good idea of where we are going and have enough time in each area where we do not feel too rushed.  The really tough part is that there are so many amazing places to go and our time is going to go by so fast that the where and how long to stay in an area is a little bit hard to judge.  I guess we just need to jump right in and go for it. 

Being somewhat comfortable in France, we have decided to begin our journey in the Normandy region.  We are planning to tour the D-Day beaches, Giverny, the Abbey of Mont-St-Michel and the historic town of Rouen.  I have to say I am very excited to enjoy some of the local cheeses, one being Camembert, oh yes!  I have been told by several people who said Normandy is their favorite part of France, and we cannot wait to explore it.  We have leased a 300 year old thatched roof home, these homes are somewhat common to this area. 

Next stop will be a converted barn in Kent just outside of London.  We will spend most of October here, exploring London, gardens, castles, historic sites and hopefully taking in a futbol game or two.  My oldest daughter adores the Harry Potter series (what kid doesn’t) and so we are also planning on visiting the Harry Potter sets that recently opened in London. 

November will be spent exploring Belgium, The Netherlands, Paris and Germany, with a stop in Prague and then onto Vienna and Salzburg.  This part of our journey is not scripted and we will be on the move quite a bit.  We are going to see what areas “speak” to us and  adapt our itinerary as needed.  We plan to make it down to the Alps for the holidays and do a little skiing.  I am planning on making housing arrangements for the holidays but we will wing it beforehand.  This will be our busiest travel time and then we will slow it down again as we travel into Italy then the South of France and onto Spain and possibly Portugal.

I am finding most of our accomodations on www.tripadvisor.com, www.homeaway.com and www.airbnb.com.  Every place we stay must have wifi so we can homeschool and a washer and dryer, would be nice…  More on homeschooling later, but it has been very interesting to explore this topic.

It has been fun trying to figure out our adventure.  I have borrowed lots of books from the library, asked lots of advice from friends and spent countless hours on the computer.  I still cannot believe we are doing this.  I am trying to enjoy my daily life here, winding up school with the kids and preparing everything for our trip but I am counting the days until we board that plane!