Learning on the road with the Austins

Learning on the road with the Austins

“When are we going to start school?” the kids continuously asked at the beginning of our travels. This may seem a bit odd, but we think it was the novelty of learning in the caravan which was exciting for them! So, after an extended holiday (nudging eight weeks) we succumbed to their reasonable wishes.

Both Trent and I are teachers (hence the long eight week Summer break) so the idea of teaching our children is not very daunting. In fact, quite the opposite; having collectively taught thousands of students throughout the past 18 years, we were both really looking forward to teaching our own children. Fortunately, the kids’ school granted us an Extended Travel Exemption Certificate which, using our professional judgement, allows us to educate our children without the demands required by Home Schooling or Distance Ed. 

Stella is in Year 4, Tommy Year 3 and Sage Kinder (NSW first year of fulltime schooling). Trent has been a classroom teacher for 11 years and an assistant principal for seven years. He’ll be predominately teaching Stella and Tommy (3/4A). Jess has been teaching on and off (maternity leave) for 16 years and will be teaching Sage (KA). 

Being teachers is definitely an advantage, given we have classroom experience, contemporary education practices and access to quality resources but roam schooling isn’t rocket science. With preparation, a few tips and a wooden spoon, anyone can do it!!! 

Getting organised and planning for what we call, ‘roam schooling’ is essential.  

Unlike the classroom, weight is paramount when travelling in a caravan. We found it hard to limit supplies. Space in a caravan is also premium so supplies need to be kept to a minimum. We’d advise to work out the most necessary supplies and top up when you run out along the way.  

We began gathering resources months before our trip. Some of these resources include: 

  • Exercise books: large and small lined, large and small sizes. (Sage needs wide lined books) 
  • Stationary: pencils, textas, rulers, sharpeners, erasers, glue sticks 
  • Four whiteboards and markers (essential for explicit teaching and exploratory learning) 
  • Scrapbooks  
  • Maths games: cards, counters, dice, dice and count down apps etc  
  • Language games: alphabet cards, sight words, flash cards 
  • A few picture books and levelled readers 
  • Some art supplies: watercolour pallets, paintbrushes, playdough 

 

This is the learning schedule Jess created that provides a guide to what is to be covered and the amount of time spent on each area. It is fluid and doesn’t have to be adhered to by the minute.  

The sessions are intensive and point of need.  So far, we are amazed how productive they are and how much content can be covered in one-on-one sessions, as opposed to catering for up to 30 students. It’s revealed a frightening revelation of how much learning time is wasted in traditional schools with the excesses of behaviour management, housekeeping, fruit break, wellbeing sessions, Safe Schools, assemblies, lockdowns, fire drills, interrupting parents, break times, cultural days, the plethora of sports carnivals and celebrations. 

Needless to say, we are getting through what would be a normal school day’s work in two hours. Lessons start at 7.30am, we have a short Phys Ed break at 8.30am then back to work only to finish for the day by 9.30am in readiness for an ‘offsite excursion’ or lazy day at caravan park’s pool!!!  

We value this precious time and are excited to witness their development throughout the year. By no means do we proclaim to be educational experts who have all the answers but we will try our best to incorporate daily travel experiences into lessons to make them relevant and in a real-life context, rather than just ‘stick to textbooks’. Hopefully you, the reader, us, the teachers and our three students, will learn a lot along the way. Feel free to contact us with any questions and stay tuned for more tips ‘n tales along our “Roam Schooling” adventure! 

-Jess & Trent

@Livin’inavandownunder 

February 18, 2019


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