Keywords: Montessori, Classical, Unit Studies, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Travelling, Semi-Structured
Children: Three – 7yrs, 5yrs, 3yrs
My family travels through the winter months in NZ or Australia, following my husband as he works onsite. Sometimes we are in the same place for a month, often it’s just a week and then we move to a new location. We are away 3-4 months and then return home in the spring. Where-ever we go we try to connect with the local home education groups. I now know that it’s key to get involved in a few activities straight away (I pre-organise these from home if possible) as it doesn’t take long for isolation to create a negative home environment. I followed the Montessori method for home education. Packing can be a challenge, I simply can’t pack all of the materials we normally use so we bring a few key things and improvise. My oldest is moving away from Montessori activities, though will still tinker with what the younger ones are using. His mornings revolve around lessons more in the Classical style – spelling, language, French, dictation, narration and piano. We use a combination of math resources including some of the Montessori tactile materials, workbooks, online programs – and try to make each day a little different. John Bowman’s ebook “Montessori at Home” has been most helpful with organising activities for young ones out of what we have on hand or can pick up cheaply from a local store. Occasionally my youngest has her own lessons when exploring something new (eg. number and letter recognition) and she is always involved in a craft afternoon! We try to plan two full days at home so that I can work with my two older ones on history, unit studies, and reading during my three year olds nap time. The other days are punctuated by library visits, storytime, music lessons and activities which may include gymnastics, ballet, swimming, art classes or other sports. A few full days out of schedule each term gives everybody the opportunity to take a break. While we’re away this winter the children and I have planned an exploring afternoon each week, we’ll have an early lunch then head off to visit something local.
Keywords: Unschooling, Large Family, Teens, Primary Aged, Preschoolers, Travelling, Unstructured
Children: Seven – 14yrs, 12yrs, 10yrs, 7yrs, 5yrs, 3yrs, 1yr
My husband is a locksmith and came up with a very important invention to thwart a serious security problem. He wanted to go to the USA to see if he could find a buyer for the invention. We spent three months travelling around in a house bus. Before we left we planned our trip carefully. We had been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder series and I found out that many of the places she used to live held pageants about her life each summer. We wanted to visit many famous and beautiful places as well as learn some of the history and geography of this enormous country. We were also interested in the different cultures – Amish, Native Indian, Hispanic immigrants, farmers, city living, celebrity culture, etc. Every day was different and filled with educational experiences. My children each had a blank note book which they used to journal our trip, draw some of the sights, and record their experiences. On a typical day we’d travel for a couple of hours, marvelling at the scenery, stop so the children could run around and play. Once we were near the Rocky Mountains and we stopped at a huge pile of inland sand dunes. We stayed until dusk, running around and playing, and then continued our journey. Late into the night we came across a poor woman broken down on the side of the road with her two children. We couldn’t get their overheated car started so we made room for them to join us and we drove them to their apartment about 30 miles away. She was so grateful that she invited us to park up in her garage and have breakfast with her in the morning. We had a wonderful cooked breakfast of hot ‘biscuits’ – these are a kind of scone mixture, brought already mixed in a tube. You just slice off sections and bake them in the oven! She also made us some really sweet cereal and pop tarts, which were sickly-sweet thin pies filled with a variety of fillings, toasted in a toaster and eaten with your fingers. When we left the children wrote in their journals. We talked, helped the children with their spelling, reminded the children of place names, etc. My younger ones dictated their journal entries and I did the writing, or drew pictures (eg. of us all sliding down the sand dunes) which I captioned. One of our trip highlights was visiting the Focus on the Family Welcome Centre in Colorado Springs. We watched a short film about the ministry and were taken on a tour of the studios and departments where research is done and radio dramas recorded. Then we were introduced to Dr Dobson and after that, the part the children were waiting for, we went to explore Whit’s End (the fictional Ice-cream shop owned and managed by John Avery Whittaker and his competent crew). This was a marvellous place of creativity and fun with dress ups, a huge slide, and a model of the imagination station machine for children to climb on, as well as a fully functioning “Whit’s End” where we could buy American beverages like root beer and sarsaparilla. We even made our own episode of the story using real sound effects and a script which was recorded and made into a CD for us to take home! On leaving, someone recommended we visit a beautiful natural reserve nearby called “Valley of the Gods” so we got a picnic together and spent the hours before twilight climbing all over and in and out of beautiful caves, hills and arches of red rock planted with cactus plants and other arid soil wonders. We all climbed back into the bus as the sun was setting behind the distant mountains and headed off for Kansas, singing songs as we drifted off to sleep.