We have spoken to lots of families about their experiences with setting up the education of their kids while they are on the road full time. It is refreshing to hear stories like Janelle’s – a story that highlights that some schools are super supportive. This is Janelle’s story:
“Since our eldest daughter was born we have done many caravanning trips and today nine years on we haven’t looked back.
Hi, my name is Janelle Marshall. Co-Founder of ‘HollerDay For a Marshall’. My husband Tony, eldest daughter Mackenzie, nine years of age and Sienna, aged seven are travelling ‘The Big Lap’ of Australia for 12 months and what an amazing journey this 14 weeks has been so far.
Two years ago, my husband and I thought it would be fantastic, not only an experience of a life time but a great learning experience especially for the girls to travel Australia. By then they would be at a great age to do it and really appreciate it. Lots of people talk about travelling Australia but talking about something and actually doing it are two different things.
Then the concerns and questions kept coming. What about your house? Your Jobs? The girls schooling? Well I can happily say we have a tenant looking after our family home. My husband took a package from GM Holden Pty Ltd Adelaide, Elizabeth Plant October of 2016 but sadly the final closure date is October 2017. I have been employed with my current employee for almost 12 years. I am a Memorial Consultant at a Cemetery and have taken my Long Service Leave as well as Leave Without Pay to become the girls full time teacher which I am thoroughly enjoying. And the girls schooling, this is our story……..
We firstly researched ways of educating our girls whilst on the road. We found the most practical and suitable way of educating our girls would be to exempt them for 12 months and home-school them with our own teaching aids. We then had a meeting with the Principal of the school to ask what avenue we need to take to make this work, the paperwork involved, what the school could provide for us and what resources we would require but most importantly what is required of us to ensure the girls meet the expectations of their year level at school.
I put together a timetable and planned a draft of weekly lessons which I provided to both girls teachers at our conference. They were very supportive and most helpful, provided a guideline of what the girls need to accomplish, outlined a structure of literacy, gave us a year of spelling words, provided us with web support and put a few text books and stationery together which is what the girls would utilize during the school year from the teacher aids. I was also lucky enough to have the Intervention Teacher whom retired last year supply us with an amazing amount of resources and worksheets, so much that we could spend another year on the road and be well equipped.
An average week in the caravan life of HollerDay For a Marshall consists of Monday morning spelling words for the week which they practise every day, followed by writing five sentences from their spelling words. These words are then written in alphabetical order. Mondays and Tuesdays, we focus on literacy. Wednesdays and Thursdays subject is Maths and Fridays is a spelling test from their words which we have focused on throughout the week. After their spelling test we then concentrate on Times Tables or put together a PowerPoint Presentation of the recent region we have learnt about and explored which these are then emailed off to their individual classes for teachers to share so students can also learn about places and facts of Australia.
Not only do we focus on one subject for about 1-3 hours a day, after dinner the girls will write a daily journal and read a nightly reader and/or read a comprehension and complete questions. In saying this, there are days where there is no ‘normal’ school work performed as we are out sightseeing and educating hands on. This is where they learn their Science, History and Geography all rolled into one. For example, we ventured down to Augusta, Western Australia and explored Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, set off on a self-guided audio tour which we all learnt about the history of Cape Leeuwin and the lighthouse, it is known for being the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia, a bit of history there also where the two oceans meet (Indian and Southern Ocean) providing a great piece of Geography for them. Tours are another fine way of a great learning experience. Not only did we tour around Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, we have explored the underground wonders of Jewel Cave learning about Stalactite and Stalagmites, Busselton Train and Underwater Observatory the longest wooden structure in the Southern Hemisphere and learnt about the different marine species and corals that live beneath the jetty, HMAS Whyalla the Minesweeper Ship built for World War II and many more.
Being on the road having the girls with us, things like grocery shopping still have to be performed. This is a fine way of how mathematics can be taught in a different way. The girls write down a few grocery items and the cost of each item and then add them up. We also play Monopoly so they learn about money facts or the game of Sequence which uses their ability to attack or defend. Cooking damper and following recipe instructions, learning about measurements is another fine way of Home Economics or a simple Science lesson with a chemistry set, growing crystals and mixing solutions to make chemical reactions. At the end of the day Caravanning or Travelling with Kids the best way of learning is to be able to be outside in the natural surroundings and elements and just being able to learn.
Overall, I have seen a vast improvement in both of their schooling, especially Maths which reassures me in what we are doing is in their best interest and far more valuable real-life hands on experience. We certainly haven’t looked back.
I hope this story inspires many other families to follow your hearts and dreams and to home-school the caravanning life way!
Regards – Janelle Marshall
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