I've started home-schooling River, Kindy.
River was so excited to start school before we left on this adventure. He knew he was going to get to wear the uniform like his older cousins, and have a backpack like all the big kids do when we pick up his cousin Ethan from school. He wanted to have a teacher, and he knew that Mummy would be dropping him off and leaving him there, all day. He was really excited for that and the type of child who at the age of 4 was ready for school. There's some parental guilt in taking him away from it. On the other hand, how many kids his age spend every day doing what we do?
I know he's learning and developing in the everyday things we are experiencing. Travel has defiantly been a positive thing for him and we find ourselves wowing at some of the things he says, but I want to keep him up to date with what the West Australian system would have given him. While we are in NSW the system is a bit different and he wouldn't start school until the following year, so to keep him in line we decided I would home-school him kindergarten.
Whatever your reason for home-schooling are, whether it be travelling, living in a remote area or simply wanting to spend more time with your kids.... I highly recommend it! We enrolled in the eKindy program though the Queensland School of Distance Education and I admit that at first, looking through all of the unit outlines and resource books, it scared me. It seems as though it is going to be a lot of work. 15 hours per week of structured activities... how will I fit that in? In actual fact it's very well planned and easy to follow. Each eKindy day River sets out his 'day planner' with activities from a list that I have already pre-chosen. Lots the activities are day to day things we really already do, but now he is getting to be part of planning that day. We already read books to River and Olive every night, so that's another activity tick. There are outside activities we already do and so those were easy to tick off the list too. Inside on a rainy day we find activities like arts and crafts, or music and dance, so they would be easy to tick off too. Basically there are some guideline to put lots of simple things we already do into a structured plan, and document it. The eKindy program has also offered tones of support and ideas for ticking off 'outcomes'. There are great word and letter recognition games, simple numeracy games, a music and Rhyme CD, books provided etc.
To River everything is like a game, and so River really never really realises that we are 'learning' and just thinks kindy days are just the best fun. We put him into a little blue t-shirt because he wanted a uniform so desperately and he calls me 'Mummy Teacher'. He also has his eKindy online teacher, Mrs Hoolihan and he has an online session with her once per week. Mrs Hoolihan is based in Longreach and has connected us with many of her other students / travelling families. Some live on a boat, some live in a bus, some live in caravan's like us and some are in very remote areas. Mrs Hoolihan makes the sessions lots of fun for River and checks up to see that we are getting through the workload... in a very flexible way.
On a personal level I have found this time to be wonderful for connecting me to my children. It is structured time with both of my kids that I'd be missing out on if they were at school. I love seeing when his little mind clicks to understand something, I love helping him through his frustrations and watching his eyes light up when he achieves.
For now I'm not sure that home schooling would be the best choice for us to continue long term, but I would defiantly consider another year while he is young. I would also say that if your child is older that in no way would 1 or 2 years affect them negatively. In fact... they probably learn more. There is also a small amount of monetary government support at the end of the financial year for supplies.
I hope this helps anyone wanting to home school.
The link for the eKindy program we are part of is;