The desire to travel has never been greater. The global pandemic is pushing us to think differently about our lifestyles and choices.
Encouraged by technological and digital developments, many parents are considering the idea of homeschooling their children. This idea is often coupled with the desire to travel as a family, far and wide.
These parents, who are often keen on travelling, find in this school compromise the means to resume or continue travelling.
It is important that parents know what they are getting into. To find out more, we met and interviewed a family who travelled far from France. Mélanie Legault and her family went to live on the other side of the world for 6 months. Their trip started in New Zealand and continued in Australia for 6 months. Through their contact, we were able to develop 5 key tips for successfully teaching children in a family setting.
(Legault Family, New-Zealand)
The first thing that stands out about the Legault family is their preparation. The keystone of their trip, they did not hesitate to experiment and ask questions. They first prepared professionally, “since 2015”, their trip. Then, they experienced “a one-month home exchange in Costa Rica”, before leaving for a longer period. This allowed them to gauge the behaviour of the children and also of the parents. Mélanie Legault explains very well the difference between a holiday trip and living abroad on the road.
“On holiday we take a break, and leave everything behind, whereas with these long trips, children are still children! They will have arguments and conflicts”.
Then it was also through exchanges that this project was built on solid foundations. Exchanges with the Children’s School also enabled them to envisage such a trip, and homeschooling. Although they were both teachers, they had to get information and ask questions. Although they are going away with the children, it is also necessary to agree on the return of the children to the school. This trip cannot be seen as a break in the children’s schooling. On the contrary, it should be seen as a continuation, an extension of the classical school education.
This trip is a “unique educational opportunity” for children. It should not become a burden when they return to school.
To do this, there is nothing better than to get information and above all to learn the necessary pedagogy from professionals. They will be able to guide you and answer many of your questions.
(Family and School meeting)
Indeed, it is very difficult to make people learn. It is a job, which requires training but also sensitivity and reflection.
In the context of homeschooling, and even more so when travelling, it is important to create a school setting. Understand here that the “parent-teacher status is not easy to build”. Boundaries and behaviours for children and parents during lessons need to be determined.
It is therefore a broad framework to be set, preventing family life from spilling over into the school. This is what the walls of the school normally do.
But it is also important, and this was confirmed by Mélanie Legault, to remain malleable. We cannot demand that children easily separate the parent from the teacher. Parents have to recognise this and adapt our pedagogy accordingly.
“We must not be afraid to ask questions, to try, to change, to modify the schedule and the way of doing things. We must not be afraid to adapt to our children, to their needs and to the moment”.
Indeed, there is “more than one way to learn” and homeschooling, while traveling, allows you to try many.
Therefore, it is important to be flexible. Don’t go into it with a rigid framework and fixed ideas. In this family, “first we bought a board to write the timetable on”. Then they noticed that the timetables were changing, that you could make arrangements, catch up on lessons, or get ahead. It was also observed that the children did not have the “same rhythm and moments of learning”. So we adapt, we start school later than 8am. This has taken a lot of stress off the children and parents.
They also found that the hardest part for children was writing. Often daunting, homeschooling can open up new and more suitable methods of education. Indeed, if the pedagogy is good, it is easier and quicker to learn alone with the teacher than in a class of 30 students.
(Family walk at sunset)
While it may seem easy to adapt timetables and exercises, it is more difficult to convince and interest children in homeschooling while travelling. It is necessary to be cunning in order to motivate the child to work. At school, classmates motivate and coach children. When travelling, it is up to the parents to do this at home.
At their young age, it is difficult to ask children to get to work on their own. So is separating family time from school time.
Here, Melanie was able to make compromises at first, while creating a routine. She explains that they “offered the children to work, and then in exchange, to go to the beach, go on an outing, etc.”
However, and this is very important, it should not become permanent. This is the installation of a new routine, which requires a moment of adaptation. Otherwise, the children will lose interest and haggle.
This is where the freedom of home schooling, and even more so when travelling, can often counterbalance. Indeed, school time is adapted to the daily life of the trip. “Family time or cultural, educational and sporting activities are all learning moments for the children. The educational routine is then framed by a set of experiences and learning for the family.
(Beach activity for the Legault family)
Finally, and this is more for the parents, it is important to prepare the organisation of educational roles and tasks. It is necessary to build this educational project together. All too often, as in the case of homework, the mother is much more solicited and solicited by the children.
This burden is in addition to a set of other mental burdens, which are mostly borne by mothers at home. This includes housework, domestic chores, childcare, etc. And although they are travelling, the same behaviours are often repeated.
It is therefore necessary to establish a fair distribution of all the burdens and therefore of the educational burden.
The teacher-parent image can affect the parent-child relationship. It is therefore important that this status is shared equitably, and not the burden of one of the two parents. The health of the parent-child relationship and the success of such a life and educational project depend on it.
Travelling is often synonymous with learning. We learn the most from contact with foreign people or situations. The same is true for children. The discovery of unique landscapes, different societies and new behaviours are all learning experiences encouraged by homeschooling.
The evolution of digital technology now makes it possible to travel with the family over several months without suffering from this change in life.
“Digital technology greatly facilitates work, children’s school and travel. It is possible to stay in touch with people (work, school, family and friends) and it allows us not to bring too many notebooks in our luggage because we have access to a lot of documents online.