If opinions are like butt holes and everyone has one, then let's just say that I've seen a lot of butt holes in the years since we decided to home educate the kids. I've also gotten a lot of genuine questions and curiosity, too. Our choices on how and when we do school has generated a lot of queries from people wondering how it fits in with our travel schedule. Because of all this, I decided I'd address all the questions/remarks/butt holes by doing a nice big FAQ post in hopes that it will answer questions, provide sensitivity training, and perhaps empower other families to make a similar move.
How do you manage the kid's school schedule with your travel plans?
It's pretty simple, we educate them at home.
So, you're a homeschooler?
Ignoring your disparaging tone here... yes and no, actually. The kids go to school once a week and have a teacher and classroom and friends. The rest of the work is done from home. This affords us a lot of flexibility. If we are out of the state/country we can do weekly video calls with the kid's teachers while we do school on the road.
What is wrong with public school?
I've got nothing against public schools. They are super necessary and I'm glad we have them! (Talk to any parent in rural Kenya and see how they like not having a public education system.) It might surprise you to know that my kids are actually enrolled in our local public school system. I have several friends and family who are all public school teachers and I have nothing but respect for them. Charlie's Kindergarten teacher is one of my favorite people on earth. She gave him such a gift by laying the most solid, loving, academic foundation. We are eternally grateful to public school teachers.
Wait. So what do you have against public schools?
Nothing. I literally have nothing against public schools. It is possible to fully support something and not have to be an active participant in it. Like Medicare and Girl Scouts. I'm all for fluoridated public water even though we are on a private well. See? Easy peasy. It just so happened that the daily grind and obligations of traditional public schools (8 am -3 pm, 5 days a week) was just not our jam. Scott works from home and we travel. Our current set-up really is the best of both worlds.
Wait. So you're homeschooling?
The kids are enrolled in an Alternative Learning Experience in our local public school system. They have dedicated teachers, classrooms, and classmates that they see weekly. The curriculum and lesson plans are all established and laid out by the kid's supervising teacher. The rest of the work is done from home under parental supervision. So... sure... if it makes it easier, sure, we're homeschooling.
Is this for religious reasons?
Aren't you afraid your kids are going to be socially inept weirdos?
Not really. I was educated from home and I'm often lauded as being witty and charming by the best of them. Honestly this whole "home-schoolers are social dork-wads" is actually a really hurtful stereotype. For every "home-school weirdo" friend-of-a-friend that you know of, I can introduce you to 5 convivial former home-schoolers. Since we're on the subject, this is seriously low hanging fruit. There are plenty of goobery personalities that come out of public schools, so statistically speaking this is a moot point.
Aren't you afraid they will be at an academic disadvantage? What about when they get out in the "real world"?
There you go with the ignorant stereotypes. Here I thought you were woke. I'm not afraid that my kids will be at any academic disadvantage. As with any educational environment the commitment of the teachers, parents, and children to academic excellence has more to do with awesome outcomes than whether or not they spend hours parked in a classroom. We are devoted to our children's education and making sure it is up to your perceived snuff. Again, you need to just let that "one home-schooler you know of" go and understand that many home educated kids go on to do amazing things. Personally, I know someone who got a full ride scholarship to Oxford University in England simply on the basis of academic chutzpah. Not convinced? How about my friends who have wildly successful careers as nurses, teachers, doctors, writers, lawyers, musicians, marketing coordinators, social workers, and vintners. Yeah, vintners. All educated from home at some point, at some time. Want their numbers?
As for "the real world"?
I dunno. Once we were all standing at a metro stop in Paris when two guys started doing lines of cocaine before the train arrived. They've visited Point du Hoc, Normandy cemeteries, and navigated the child street beggars in Tangier. You tell me. Are the kids sheltered?
But, what about bullies? How will they learn to navigate complex negative social situations?
No. Just no. I'm not going to dignify this question with a response.
Actually... on second thought... hold my beer. I'm doing my best David Rose impression here "What kind of barn were you raised in?!?!"
Thing 1: I thought they were going to school to learn about Magellan and subtraction. Not how to learn to take a punch.
Thing 2: I'm pretty sure no sane parent would send their child to a traditional school specifically so they can be bullied or learn how to navigate "complicated" social situation. Who would willingly do that? Last I checked 4th grade wasn't Sex and the City.
Thing 3: Considering the fact that my generation has spent an inordinate amount of time un-doing the bad social habits we picked up (anxiety, boundaries, self esteem) during our formative school years, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that playground bullies simply ended up wasting our 20's- fixing what the bullies broke, if you will. Why should my kids have to go through that? I would say it damaged more than helped.
Thing 4: I sincerely hope you would not encourage bullies run amok so kids can "learn to deal".
Thing 5: We regularly talk with our children about boundaries, how to respond to unkind remarks, and navigating conflicts within their friendships because *spoiler alert* they get plenty of social interaction on a regular basis.
They go once a week, but you travel for several weeks. How does that work?
Hey! A relevant question. Good for you. I'm so glad you asked. So, yes, while we are at our home here in Washington the kids go to school weekly. When we are on the road we coordinate with their teachers to have video calls and emails to stay in weekly contact. (Per state requirements) I often bring photocopies of their workbooks so we don't have the lug the whole thing around. We have a special "school bag" that has pencils, clip boards, and the documentation pages (also to meet state requirements) that we need for daily school life. We can have virtual contact for a month before we would need to come home. This hasn't been an issue as the maximum time we are away from our home base is 3 weeks.
I could never do that.
Ok. Well this is more of a statement than question. Hey, no worries. This kind of lifestyle isn't for everyone. We are really happy and it works beautifully. I'm so glad my kids get the best of both worlds while seeing the world. I personally couldn't do what you do... and that is ok. A lid for every pot, if you will.
Would you like to get a glass of wine?
Totally. You name the date and time.