How will I school my children while travelling? Is probably the biggest question and concern for parents of school aged kids wanting to travel Australia. And it was mine too, I’d travelled before, but never needed to teach at the same time!
Along comes Covid-19 and our school closes like others around the country and we are thrown into semi-home schooling our kids. After a few weeks, I could see the HUGE benefit of one-on-one learning for our kids, I could see where skills were lacking and what we needed to work on.
We were all ready and waiting to do our tour of QLD when the lock-down hit so when we were allowed to go camping again we headed off to home-school and travel for 2020.
What are your schooling options?
Your options for school is limited by the state you come from, I am from QLD and we are fortunate that you are allowed to travel and be registered as a home schooler at the same time. NT, WA and NSW have stronger rules about that and usually require you to use distance education instead.
As a Queenslander my options were:
Get an exemption from the school principle for an agreed period of time.
Join a Distance Education school. They have a teacher and curriculum provided.
Register for homeschooling with the Home Education Department. I (Hayley) am responsible for providing curriculum, and reporting once a year on their progress.
Our school doesn’t offer exemptions as a policy, so that was out, Distance education was too structured for the relaxed travel we wanted, so registering for homeschooling and me being responsible for all their education was what we chose.
How to register for home schooling?
In QLD the Home Education Unit, is the authority for homeschoolers. The process was straightforward once I’d done my research on what they needed from me to approve me as the kids teacher.
“If you choose to home educate, you will need to develop and provide a summary of the educational program for your child. The initial ideas for planning your child’s home education program will come from your own observations of your child and the goals you have for them. Applications for home education registration can be made at any time during the year.”
- Fill out an application form – this is your intent to homeschool
- Download a template for the curriculum you will provide, they want to hear where your child’s strengths and weaknesses are and your goals for the year ahead. (Completed Sample here)
- Submit both the application form & your plan by mail to the Home Education department,
- They will process your application and let you know if they need more info, then you will get a certificate in the mail.
- The day you send in your application is the day you can unenroll your children from their current school.
- In 10 months time you will be asked to complete a report and send in 6 samples of work. This is actually a great time to see how far the kids have come in that time. They want to see a sample of maths, english and 1 other subject from term 1 and a sample from the end of the year to compare. (Video explaining that here)
Is there help with this process?
If your brain just went ka-boom don’t worry, there is a company called EUKA (formally Complete Education Australia) that can help provide a full curriculum for your grade and register you with the Home Education Department for a yearly or monthly fee.
I wrote my own plan to get approved by the Home Education Department then we used the Euka curriculum for the first 2 terms of home-schooling just to get me started. I was still learning about what needed to be taught and needed a guide! By term 3 I had my confidence and was able to plan my own curriculum for the kids around the places we were visiting.
Euka is a full Australian Education Program from Kindergarten to Grade 11 completed at home/while traveling. They provide all lessons and activity sheets, with students covering all that is covered in school that you can complete at your own pace.
How much does school cost?
Home School: It is free to register for Homeschooling in QLD, if you do all the application yourself. The home education department does not provide any learning tools once registered, so what you spend is up to you. You will need basic stationary supplies for writing, and a printer would be helpful to print out free online resources. Don’t forget the library is free and has heaps of resources.
Buying a curriculum: You can buy a curriculum/program to follow and they cost around $530 for the year.
Distance Education has a cost involved because they are a private school system. The cost differs between schools but is around $800 – $1800 per student per year.
Exemption: If your school grants you an exemption, they may provide you with work to complete on the trip or they will ask you to do it yourself.
Our year homeschooling and travelling
We had a very successful year in Home schooling our children. Initially we spent time ascertaining where they were at with skills in each subject and we found one of our kids further behind than we thought.
We worked very hard on going back to basics and developing those core skills and I am proud to say they improved in all areas. Reading is now excellent and can read early chapter books with only needing help on a few unfamiliar words. Maths also went from not being able to count to 100 or recognise the higher numbers to doing hundreds addition with regrouping.
We spent some time travelling through QLD with the children this year and they thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the different historical sites and diverse natural wonders. They both started the year with limited physical abilities and a fear of heights, by the end of our trip they was crossing suspension bridges over waterfalls, climbing the highest rainforest platform in QLD, and exploring dark caves.
We had a great routine while travelling with doing our formal learning in the mornings then on to adventure in the afternoons, it worked really well for our family. I am so proud that we were able to help both kids with not only their academic learning but self confidence as well.
A typical day roadschooling
We did school 4-5 mornings a week for 2 hours a day. Each day we would do Maths, spelling & comprehension, reading and one other ongoing project. This was at the same time David did his work for the day. If it was a travelling day we focused on a math page or reading at a roadside stop.
For Maths we did:
1 page from Targeted maths book, matching activity on Mathletics Online (if we had internet), hands on activity from Euka.
Euka english task (like read a chapter and answer questions), a page from Targeted Spelling book, read a book out loud.
We did a range of other subjects like art, science, history and geography, luckily travel covers most of these naturally but reviewing where you’ve been in a constructed way helped the kids remember.
We also had the kids keep a travel journal about each place and their favourite parts as well as friends they’ve made.
I took some basic learning tools with us to help with teaching like MAB blocks, counters, playdough, play money and paper craft. Things to consider is if they are learning measuring you will need a measuring tape, jug and cups with you.
I found a full curriculum maths & spelling book a good addition to our learning, I could match the page to what we were learning that day from Euka, so we repeated a new concept a few times. This also ensured I didn’t miss anything they needed to know for the year.
I also took a laptop and mini printer with us, I knew we had some catching up to do so I wanted the ability to print custom worksheets or resources as needed.
My School Supplies List:
- Subject books
- Art Books
- Spelling Book
- Maths Book
- Pencil case: Lead pencils, rubbers, scissors, ruler, glue, sharpener
- Pencil case: paint brushes, water colours, paint pots
- Pencil case: coloured pencils and texters
- Acrylic paint, craft supplies, coloured paper, cardboard, PVA glue
- Folder of aids: clock, 100 chart, number lines
- MAB blocks, counters
- Readers, books
- Mini Printer
- 2 x mini whiteboard and markers
Products I use and recommend:
Free Online Learning Tools:
- ABCYA.com – Free online games by grade
- Prodigy Maths – Free wizard/magic maths game
- spellingcity.com – Free spelling games, enter your weekly spelling words.
- Learning Songs – Jack Hartman, catchy learning songs maths and english.
- Teachers Pay Teachers – free worksheets and projects made by teachers.
- ABC Education – Videos & games for kids learning
- Storyline Online – quality books read by famous people on video
- Scootle – the whole Australian Curriculum with resources
We have thoroughly enjoyed our home education experience, the kids growth both academically and personally has been wonderful to watch. We achieved what we set out to do for the year and I am so proud of them (and me).
I am thankful we were consistent with their learning and got it out of the way each day and onto adventure. Once we were in that routine it was just normal and there was minimal complaining. We still took off school holidays and the first few days back at it can be challenging, but be consistent and the work just gets done. We kept flexible and adapted where needed. We had solid “end of the year” goals for each child and we just worked towards those.