Traveling Family Homeschool Update
Since we started traveling full time we haven’t shared much about homeschooling. Before we hit the road we had never homeschooled before and didn’t fancy ourselves much of an expert on the topic. But after being on the road nine months we thought it’s about time to share a homeschool update!
We follow a structured, predetermined curriculum. We have found that we seem to be an anomaly when it comes to full time traveling families and homeschooling. Many full time traveling families believe in “un-schooling” and opt to not follow a strict or predetermined curriculum. While this works for a lot of folks, we weren’t comfortable with this personally. Eventually we will enroll our kids back into “regular” public school and we want them to be in a semi-structured school system while we travel, so they can easily transition back into school when the time comes. Although we don’t necessarily agree with all the standardized testing that happens in our schools – we also wanted our homeschool curriculum to prepare them for this when they re-enroll back in public school. And with all the adjusting we would be doing in moving into the trailer, learning how to tow and care for our home on the wheels and navigating new places, we didn’t want Jeremy to have to do a bunch of planning/prep/creating lessons – so we wanted a curriculum that was pre-planned and vetted first with other families.
Photo credit: Book Shark
The primarily curriculum we use is Book Shark, a literary-based curriculum, it focuses on the kids reading aloud and listening to others reading aloud. At times we thought we were crazy to buy a curriculum that required 50 pounds of books. Seriously, it’s not the most mobile-friendly curriculum – but we really liked the literary focus and we know reading is one of the most important skills for future success in school. We purchased the complete second grade Book Shark curriculum for Liam (age 8, Second Grade) and the Kindergarten math and writing portions for Hadley (age 5, Kindergarten).
When we started our travels we had two full large bins of books in the back of the truck. As we read the books we give them to other traveling families or donate them to local charities. There are some books that Liam read that we are holding onto for Hadley – but really because space is limited, we cycle through a lot of books. We are down to one bin now thanks to better organizing supplies in the trailer and because we’ve used and gotten rid of some materials.
Book Shark comes with 36 weeks of lesson plans. Each week of curriculum has four (4) days worth of instruction, with the fifth (5) day reserved for art and/or field trips – which works splendidly for our traveling lifestyle! We just completed our 25th full week of official homeschool curriculum. We generally do school four (4) days a week for about 3 hours at a time, with minimal breaks. Jeremy does ALL the homeschooling while Heather usually works. This makes the most sense for our family since Jeremy was a public school teacher for 13 years before we started to travel and Heather needs time daily to work on the road. We purposely choose do school on mornings Saturday thru Tuesday so that we can get out and explore on weekdays – helping us avoid the crowds! We occasionally take weeks off from school for things like DisneyWorld or when we flew home to Washington State for a visit. But we find our kids are happier when we just do a little bit, consistently.