Written by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple
Right now, I’m at a cafe with my almost ten-year-old, where she’s writing a blog post as her next writing project (topic: things for kids to do in Queensland, Australia). I’ve been furiously working on finishing my e-course while we have decent Internet, before we head to our next location: Sri Lanka.
There’s a certain irony to me contributing a post to Simple Homeschool’s day in the life series, because since we left the States on September 15, not one day has been the same.
We’re on a round-the-world trip that we’d planned for about five years, and at the time of this writing, we’re a few weeks shy of halfway through.
Everything changed when we crammed our backpacks full of the gear we’d need for the next nine months, from our food to housing to day-to-day activities. (Thankfully, we didn’t need to adjust to schooling as a way of everyday, all day family life. We were already used to that.)
What has thrown me for a loop, however, is my need to adjust my expectations. My dear friend worldschooled and traveled with her family not too long ago, and she warned me that even though our kids will learn more than they ever could in a classroom setting, there will be days (weeks, months) when it won’t feel like it.
We’ve got a few bits of curriculum with us, but we’ll go weeks without cracking it. There are many days when we have to account for long travel and jet lag adjustment. And a regular morning routine? Forget about it. I really don’t even know how to write about “day in the life” for this year.
Kids getting ready for a hike in New Zealand
But learning? You bet.
Our field trips have included, but aren’t limited to:
The Great Wall of China, ancient Asian palaces and parks, Terra Cotta Warrriors, the karst mountains of Yangshuo, elephant reserves, local cooking classes, hiking the Southern Alps of New Zealand, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, hiking the oldest rainforest in the world, learning how to throw boomerangs and play a digeridoo from an Aborigine, holding a koala and feeding a kangaroo, and taking a ferry ride around the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge (all those in Australia, obviously).
Riding a World War II-era train through the Australian rainforest
Checking out the Terracotta Warriors
Bathing elephants in Thailand
A young monk helping our guy light his lantern for Loy Krathong
Seeing as we’re not quite halfway through, I can’t even imagine what else we’ll add (Victoria Falls, a safari in Kenya, the ancient Moroccan city of Fez, Cappadoccia in Turkey, and Beirut, Lebanon, are all on the horizon. And then there’s Europe next.)
This doesn’t include everyday markets galore, local cafes and pubs, daily life in the world’s megacities, enduring long drives in the middle of nowhere (squashed up sweatily next to your brother and sister!), handling metro and bus systems, currency conversions, airport layovers, cooking with new ingredients, and language barriers.
Having to pack up again and again while keeping up with your stuff, and I’d say we’ve got “life skills” checked.
A spur-of-the-moment science experiment when a lantern landed in our front yard
“Meeting” the neighbors in China
Learning culture and the natural world from an Aborigine
So yeah… they’re learning. I just have to remind myself.
The closest thing to a “day in the life”
When we are in one place for more than a week at a time (our preference), we’ll spread out and open our backpacks a bit to dig in to our books. Our priorities are our field trips and adventures, obviously, but this sort of learning fits in to our nooks and crannies:
• Our oldest, turning 10 in a few weeks, journals our outings and adventures, doubling as both writing practice and creating the perfect souvenir for our trip. She also writes down Bible verses from our family devotional time, jots down new-to-her spelling words from books she reads, and publishes occasional blog posts.
• Our middle, age 7, practices his handwriting with his workbook and with his spelling lists, and also works on his articulation—this is one of the few “schooly” things we’re intentionally doing as daily as possible because he has a fine motor and speech delay.
• Both kids are also working their way (albeit slowly) through their math that we have on the iPad, and they also keep track of their allowance on a spreadsheet with the different currencies and their value converted to U.S. dollars.
• Our youngest, age 4.5, mostly plays, but since he loves “doing” school with his older siblings, he’ll practice his letters when the workbooks are pulled out.
• His brother and sister also enjoy helping him with counting and sorting (coins! rocks! steps on the Great Wall! whatever we find!).
• We also listen to Story of the World as a family from our iPad (doing our best to listen to the ones pertinent to where we are), and we reference our travel map near-daily and talk about our locale’s language, politics, food, animal and plant life, geography and culture.
• The older two read a ton on their Kindles, which are gloriously connected to our local public library back home.
• We continue our family read-alouds via Kindle as well, and take advantage of any picture books that might be near us (we’ve stayed in guest houses with libraries, and a few rental houses have had kiddo books).
And just like in real life, the kids play, play, play.
Study time in a Thai guest house equipped with a library
Writing in a restaurant in Beijing
Goofing around at China’s Temple of Heaven
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef
All this happens all throughout our days—there is no routine right now. There is no typical “day in the life” for us (and I do look forward to when we return to such, eventually).
The kids write on planes, when we have a low-key day of vegging in a guest house, from beds before drifting off to sleep. Math happens when the iPad is charged and we have space and time to concentrate. And reading? Reading happens everywhere: on windy-road drives, while waiting for food at cafes, at bus and metro stops, and from airplane seats, beds and park benches worldwide.
Other than this? We don’t do that much. 😉
our “first day of school” photos at the Great Wall of China
Writing this has encouraged me that even though it doesn’t feel like we’re “doing” much school, they really are learning. I have a feeling we’ll feel the aftereffects of this special year for years to come. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for this season.
Have you ever found yourself homeschooling far away from home?