But… what about school?

The 3 older kids playing word games

The 3 older kids playing word games

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.

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, socialisation, outings and a lot more stuff designed for each child in particular.

Melissa knitting and Coral reading before bed

Melissa knitting and Coral reading before bed

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.

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.

On this specific Halloween, the kids made everything: the cupcakes of the photo, the cookies, the decoration....

On this specific Halloween, the kids made everything: the cupcakes of the photo, the cookies, the decoration….

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 them. We understand that they are complete human beings capable of learning, even without formal guidance, if they want to.

Playing with the senses at Arboria, in Auckland

Playing with the senses at Arboria, in Auckland

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 jewellery making (actual silver jewellery), 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 ou 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.

Jose, hammer in hand, making a ring.

Jose, hammer in hand, making a ring.

If you’d like to learn more about unschooling, you can start with John Holt, Sandra Dodd, and Pam Laricchia.

Do you have any questions? I’d love to know what are your concerns about it!

3 replies
  1. Fernanda Gomes Alexandre
    Fernanda Gomes Alexandre says:

    Seriously, you guys are amazing! Hope one day we get the chance to meet up and talk about all this in person! I’ve met Angelo once but would love to meet the rest of the family too! (Well, I’m Fernanda by the way, Gustavo’s wife) As an educator myself I find all this amazing! I congratulate your courage to go for what you believe in! It’s not easy to go that path, I know! Just keep on going and inspiring people all over the world!
    Cheers from Brazil!
    Fernanda

    Reply

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  1. […] It’s a huge topic, so I’ll just tell you about how our days have been working. If you want to, I can write more in depth about each subject. You can also read our first post on their education here. […]

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