Homeschooling on the Road - Doing Our Homework
Getting ready to write part 2 - so re-posting part 1 for those who might want to read them together . . .
"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." -- John Dewey
When we talk to other parents about our "year off" they usually say that they would LOVE to do something like that . . . but . . . what about school?
Schooling Doesn't Need to be a Deal Breaker
Doing OUR Homework
We've found that requirements for Home Schooling vary with each state. Washington is pretty easy. The Law basically states that:
- We must file a declaration of intent with our local school district.
- We must work with a certified teacher who meets with your student on the average of an hour a week. (Hey! Cool! Mom IS a certified teacher)
- We must teach 11 required subjects -- reading, writing, spelling, language, math, science, social studies, history, health, occupational education, and art and music appreciation.
- Students must take some sort of assessment annually (supervised by a certified teacher - could be Mom again)
- We should keep some sort of records (not specified) of student instruction and progress.
We are also fortunate that Washington State's Grade Level Standards are spelled out for us to consult periodically. I will be meeting with the 5th and 7th grade teachers soon to let them know about our plans and get their take on essential skill areas we should cover. I bet they will have some creative project ideas for us as well.
Embracing a Teaching & Learning Philosophy
Just like when I was searching for the "perfect fit" Kindergarten, it has been easiest for me to start with what I DON'T want.
I don’t want . . .
- schoolwork to be a separate and imposing add-on to our experience.
- to lug around a bunch of workbooks
- my kids to be bored or restless
- them to return unprepared for their next year of school
We have a HUGE jump on making this happen because our kids have always loved their time at school. They have thrived at Thornton Creek academically, socially, and emotionally. I credit the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound Model and excellent teachers for fully engaging them. My plan is to take what has been so positive about their experiences there and apply it to the world classroom.
Expeditionary Learning focuses on teaching in an engaging way while emphasizing learning by doing, character growth, teamwork, and literacy. The approach is experiential and project-based, involving students in original research -- with experts whenever possible -- to create high-quality products for audiences beyond the classroom. All subjects center around an assigned expedition that will spark students’ interest, support critical literacy, promote character development, create a sense of adventure and foster an ethic of service.
My experiences as both a learner and as a teacher have made me a believer of the effectiveness of this approach. It is easy to see how our trip itself can become our year long "Learning Expedition". I admit to being excited about the challenge and fun of guiding my own small class in the coolest classroom ever.
Both kids go through books like crazy and we can't imagine taking enough paperbacks with us - so we decided that investing in e-readers seemed prudent. After some research, we found that Nook Simple Touch made the most sense (Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for the Christmas gift!!). The reviews generally put the nook ahead of the Kindle because of the touch screen and lower price ($79 special offer).
We like that it has 2GB of internal memory and that we can expand that memory with a microSD card (up to 32 GB) -- That’s a TON of books! Noah figured out that we could get FREE e-books directly from the Seattle and King County Public Library and other sites - even overseas (I had my sister in Singapore try it out). There are advantages to being married to a technology geek. We can also share the same book on multiple devises - I'm thinking family reading group!
Our Favorite Portable Somewhat Educational Activities
A lesson learned from our travel experiences so far - there will be time to kill - so come prepared! Here are some easy to travel with games/activities that can be pulled out in the airport, train, bus station, cafe, etc.
Rory's Story Cubes and Rory's Story Cubes - Actions (We combined the sets for even better story making).
Crossword Cubes and Bananagrams (Word Games)
Ken Ken Math Puzzles both kids love and I find really hard! (We like the Will Shortz series) Puzzles are also available online.
Zeus on the Loose
Apples to Apples
Learning from the Experts
Some Great Family Travel Bloggers Have Written About Schooling While Traveling:
I've found the reflections of Traveling Families once they have returned to be extremely valuable. Their End of Year "Report Cards" on schooling especially so -- Thank you bloggers!!
Travels With A Nine Year Old
Six in the World
Home schooling Resources
PLEASE SHARE YOUR IDEAS AND INSIGHTS!!