One of the more significant tasks we are taking on during this trip is homeschooling our own little kindergartner. Ava is now 5-years old and will officially start kindergarten in the fall. We began researching different types of homeschooling programs when we decided to go back on the road and were really lucky to find a great program for newbies like us at Ventura Charter School.
The decision for us to travel and work full time on the road is something that intrigues a lot of our friends and family. Some of them are envious of our decision and are very encouraging, some of them think we are more than a little crazy and I think there are a few that think we are throwing away our lives and might actually hold disdain for what we do. And for those that do, I don’t really fault them for it. It certainly isn’t right for everyone. We just think it is right for us.
Clearly this lifestyle does not fit into the status quo of a traditional American family. We are suppose to both work a 9 to 5 job and take our little kids to daycare and the big ones to public school. In return, we get the security of a steady paycheck and health insurance coverage while we spend a few hours a day after work with our kids. And only once we reached the ripe old retirement age of 65, are we supposed to buy an RV and roam aimlessly sans children. Believe me, there are moments when I think that feeling of security is exactly what I want, or worse yet, need. Luckily for me, those moments never last very long.
When the topic of home schooling comes up, most people seem to have very strong feelings about it. I think one’s perception of home schooling comes from the homeschooled kids they’ve encountered in their personal lives. We fortunately have come across some of the brightest and most well-behaved homeschoolers during our times on and off the road. We have received some very good advice on how we might pursue homeschooling ourselves when that time come. And that time is here.
A few months go, we attended an open house put together by Ventura Charter School. They are part of a local public school system in the Ventura County School District and offer a pretty unique style of homeschooling for those interested. Since it is technically a public school, it is funded by the school system. We receive materials provided by them as well as a credentialed teacher who will be supervising Ava’s progress.
In the homeschooling community, there is a popular and controversial style of learning referred to as ‘unschooling’. It is the philosophy that kids learn naturally through their life experiences. Although there will be inevitably a lot of ‘unschooling’ that will happen during our travels, we will also be incorporating a lot of traditional methods to complement her kindergarten education. The Ventura Charter School program will provide us with all of the course materials as we need them as well as helping us along the way in making sure Ava is meeting or exceeding her expected milestones.
With modern technology like wireless Internet, e-books and mobile apps, homeschooling has reached a level never seen before. Every month, Ava will meet with her teacher via Skype to talk about what she is learning. We are expected to log and submit samples of her work weekly either by postal or digital mail. The school provides traditional learning materials like workbooks and other learning supplies but we will getting a lot of her materials digitally to make learning while traveling easier. Access to various e-learning Websites and iPad apps will keep her challenged and stimulated while hands-on activities at each and every travel stop will put those newly acquired skills to practical use.
We are definitely not yet experts on homeschooling. But we do know that we are excited about the opportunity for her to learn about the world while she is seeing and living in it. She will have opportunities to learn about the transcontinental railroad while traveling through the mountains of Utah. She will learn about the life of the Lakota People while driving through the Black Hills of South Dakota. She will get to run down the same hills with arms raised to her sides where Orville and Wilbur Wright took their first human flight in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We may not be the best teachers she will ever have but at least we will be endowed with the best materials and classroom we can possibly hope for.
As we gain more experience with homeschooling our kindergartner on the road, we hope to be documenting and sharing our experiences on this blog. I hope our experiences will be exceedingly positive and maybe even inspire some other families who might be contemplating this lifestyle to take the plunge.
over and out,