Last week, the majority of Australian school-aged children went back to school, but for us it was a different story. We have started a new life, with new dreams. We have embarked on a year-long adventure of travelling and homeschooling our three children aged 3, 4 and 9 years. It will take us all around Australia where we’ll be house sitting, camping in national parks, waking up to stunning beaches, swimming in rivers and lakes, and climbing mountains. We’ll be experiencing culture and diversity. We’ll be learning about real life issues hands on.
Homeschooling, or nature and travel schooling as I like to call it, is becoming increasingly popular with a 15% increase in Victorian students registering for homeschooling in the past year.
In previous years I observed some negative stigmas attached to homeschooling. If you don’t know any families living this lifestyle it can seem rather foreign and out of the norm. However, I now see it as a viable choice for the modern, eco and social conscious family that want to move away from the rat race and live a more fulfilling life together. It really can be the ultimate dream life for modern families like us. We can travel and run our businesses from a laptop from anywhere in the world.
So what made us decide to nature and travel school? Numerous factors and life experiences ultimately led us to this decision. The more I started researching about the benefits of nature play, the more I realised that getting kids outdoors and experiencing real life situations is the best way for them to learn and become well adjusted, confident and emotionally intelligent kids. The forest school movement in Europe is a clear example of how children benefit from less time sitting in a classroom and more time playing in outdoors and in nature.
So I followed my children’s lead and trusted that homeschooling would be the best option for my children at this particular time in their lives and our lives. I say now because nothing is ever set in concrete. What meets your needs at a particular time in your life may not at a later stage. You always have options and opportunities to change direction and keep growing.
Now that we homeschool, our days are much more stress-free and the kids are happier and more relaxed (and so are we!). We have time to learn properly and take in as much detail as we can. We start the mornings with reading books, and then my 9 year old daughter does some main lessons. It’s usually a combination of maths, writing, reading and spelling, journaling or about various projects we are working on. At the moment we are learning about Egypt and the pharaohs. Sometimes it’s history, geography, biology or a chemistry project. Other times she is busy making videos for her YouTube channel or learning a new graphics program. And there are times when it’s more creative and hands on, like sewing. And if we want to head out for the rest of the day and explore something that sparks our interest, we can do that too.
Sometimes we catch up with other homeschooling friends or head to a park for a walk and a play. Other times we visit places like the zoo, museum, Scienceworks, the Arts Centre, city, a gallery or whatever event or celebration is taking place. Last weekend we celebrated the Lunar New Year festival by immersing ourselves in Vietnamese culture and learning about their history, food and music.
We love getting out and about. We love living life and experiencing it to the fullest. We have goals: To frequently expose our children to different people, cultures, food and places; to ensure they understand social justice; and to show them how they can create change and be voices to make a difference in this world. We dance every day, listen to music from around the globe, and play musical instruments. We speak and are learning new languages. We take our children out to visit friends or we go to their grandparent’s farm for the day where they get to spend many hours in Tata’s veggie garden picking strawberries and fruit.
Here are some interesting things that you might consider when deciding whether to homeschool or not.
- Kids are not meant to sit upright indoors all day. Paediatric Occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom recently spoke at an Eco Explorers event about how damaging it is for children’s developing bodies to be sitting upright all day. Children are meant to move around and need that stimulus to further development their movement and balance.
- Children are naturally curious and want to learn about the world around them. Learning happens naturally, through doing, exploring and discovering things.
- Children learn best outdoors when in nature. Studies clearly show that being in nature is calming and provides children with the best learning environment. Scandinavian forest schools are leading the way internationally in education and a perfect example of this.
- Classroom and group teaching is not for everyone. Children learn differently, have different interests and have different strengths and weaknesses, and schools can’t adapt as much as parent can to these learning needs. Homeschooling allows you to draw on these and focus on areas your child is interested in as well as needs assistance in.
- Everything you need to have access to for your child’s learning is there in your home, through online educational programs, through your life, work and educational experiences. You don’t need to have a degree or be a teacher to home school. To educate your child you can utilise resources such as online curriculums and educational programs, libraries, books and real life situations and events.
So what has changed since we started homeschooling?
My daughter is happier, more confident, and more social. She has a passion for life and learning. She takes responsibility for her choices, her learning and helps around the home more and is more patient with her siblings.
She is busy! So busy!! She has an entrepreneurial passion for learning. She is always coming up with new ideas to make things.
I invite you all to come along and share our new adventures as we embark on a life filled with travel, learning and play outdoors. Along our way we’ll share with you the most beautiful places to visit, things to do with your family without leaving a huge carbon footprint. We hope to inspire you to live you dream, travel more, take risks and give yourself more time to play. And as we travel we’ll be giving you those opportunities to connect with nature and other like-minded families through playgroups, workshops and family fun nature days.
I hope you’ll join us on this exciting journey!