This is the first question we hear every time we talk about traveling long term. If people don’t ask, they always make uncomfortable faces.
The thing is: there are many ways to learn something. We’ve always believed that.
Our background in homeschooling
We’ve been homeschooling since Coral was a baby, so it’s been 4 years now. We applied to receive an exemption from enrolling in a registered school at the Ministry of Education in NZ 3 times now, one for each kid over 6 – this is the schooling age in NZ. Every time, we presented a full one year plan saying how we were going to “teach” them each subject, what resources we’re going to use, the support groups, timetable, socialization, outings and a lot more stuff designed for each child in particular.
We really started it as a trial. We gave ourselves 6 months to try homeschooling and see how it went. That period extended to a year. And then we’d decided: we are homeschoolers.
How homeschooling works in our home
Our methods changed over the years. We tried many different inspirations (Steiner, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, Unschooling) and well, we always ended up going to unschooling. But the thing I love most about homeschooling them is that we have the freedom to take whatever works from each methodology and use them. We don’t have to choose one and follow it – and only it.
We’re mostly unschoolers, which mean we don’t do school. Our kids are free to learn whatever they want, whenever they want. They have no limit to how deep they dig into a subject or other. We don’t follow any curriculum. We don’t make they study for a determined time. We don’t even make them study.
What we do, however, is to give them freedom and responsibility for their own education. We give them the tools, we show them how to use them, we tell them stories, we read to and with them. We show them interesting stuff we find. We talk to them. And, most importantly, we respect and listen to them. We understand that they are complete human beings capable of learning, even without formal guidance, if they want to.
Homeschooled kids are weird
My kids nearly always surprise people because of their misconception of how an unschooled child turns out. People just don’t expect them to be normal kids, and they are. They aren’t shy (except for Melissa, but that was born with her), they aren’t socially awkward (mostly), they can read, write, count, do fractions.
They know the countries, some capitals, the money they use, their flags. They know how to use tools (from calculators to real power tools). They know how to build stuff (even though they don’t really like it), they can sew, they can cook, bake, do laundry, clean. They know how to care for younger kids and animals. They can play a little of piano and recorder. They draw, paint, craft. They have friends, play dates, sleepovers, parties.
They did courses and workshops like jewelry making (actual silver jewelry), first aid, watercolor, pottery, drama, dance, yoga, tae kwon do, swimming, coding, robotics. They love games and Youtube. They know how to search for whatever they need. They can half, double or triple recipes. They can read and write in 2 languages fluently. They jump rope, swim, run, walk, hike, do cartwheels, handstands, dance. They fight and scream and cry. They’re exactly like other kids.
They just don’t do it at school.
If you’d like to know more, click here to see what we’ve written about the kids’ education!