Free Campers Narelle and her family are on an amazing journey…but they soon discovered that home schooling and distance education for their kids on the road was not as easy as they thought. Thanks so much Narelle for sharing your story with some fabulous links and advice…
“We left for life on the road on 26th December 2016 headed in a bee line for Tasmania from our home of over 34 years :: the Northern Territory. We have been on the road for 6 months with most of that time spent in Tasmania [we’re finally leaving here at the end of July].
Early in 2016 our then, 10yo DD, was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum Disorder scale. She is on the bottom of the scale but for the previous 2 years, school had been a nightmare for her.
In the middle of 2016 we started to live in our caravan getting ready for our new life in December. At this time we took her out of mainstream school as she was accepted into Year 6 at Katherine School of the Air :: Distance Education. We were thinking ahead to travelling too when enrolling her here.
It was a hard transition for both her and I. As I had to give up my casual job as a Personal Assistant to be with her 24/7.
I would sit with her from 8.30am until 4.30pm every day ‘trying’ to get the work done. After a month or so of this ‘trying’ we went to the school [luckily we lived close by] asking to drop some subjects as the work load and deadlines were far too much for her to cope with. The staff were wonderful and we finally got it down to 2 subjects, English and Maths YAY! She tried really hard and was able to complete Year 6 by the end of 2016. The bonus of our one on one time for hours each day was that I really got to know her, the way she thinks, what/how she likes things etc. like I thought I already knew her. We also enrolled our then 8yo DS into Year 4 at Katherine School of the Air :: Distance Education for 2017.
Our then 16yo DD had already been doing DE through Northern Territory School of Distance Education for Year 11 in 2016 and had decided to complete Year 12 over 2 years while travelling on the road.
We started the schooling year off stationary for a few weeks in Railton, Tasmania, while our awning was fixed. Both kids DD 11yo Year 7 and DS 9yo Year 4 had to start with all subjects and we did our best to complete them but we were failing miserably.
We had to allow for the 1 ½ hour time difference between the NT and Tasmania when going to the online classes, and because Railton only had 3G reception the live video program wasn’t smooth so we were missing what the teacher was saying a lot. On top of this we had to purchase more data only internet plans to keep up with all the internet being used. We found Jeenee data-only 70GB for $74 sim with no lock in plan was the best and we’ve travelled all around Tasmania and it has received 4G in more places than my Telstra Mobile has.
Not only did we have internet problems but we were spending 8 hours a day ‘trying’ to get all the work completed. It was a nightmare!!! DD was great, she persevered as much as she could but DS was a different story. He’d take 3 hours to do 10 minutes of work!!! I was going insane not only because of the hours and work load but because our NEW LIFE wasn’t meant to be this stressful! I spoke to the school and could only get their work load down to 4 subjects each, this was still huge.
At this same time DH started his Bachelor in Psychology and so he could have some quite time and space I’d take the kids to McDonalds asking them if I could use their power points and free wi-fi, not always getting a favourable response to the power points. It took a couple of months before I found out we could use the libraries down here and sign up for a visitors card, borrow books and use their power points and free wi-fi. Linc Libraries Tasmania were fantastic, even when I had to bring in our sick daughter one day [when it was too overcast for our solar, we didn’t have a generator at the time and needed power and internet].
After 10 weeks of travelling the west coast of Tasmania and not seeing any of it and the pure horror in trying to get school work done and find 4G internet access areas etc. etc. and then lots of conversations with friends and other travellers WE QUIT DISTANCE EDUCATION!!! To say it was a huge relief would be the understatement of the year!
I asked the kids to write me a letter telling me why they’d prefer to do Homeschooling and how they were going to make it work for them. Well, our DD did it but our DS wasn’t into it at all.
Because we are on the road indefinitely and because we’ll always be Homeschooling our children we have to think down the road if they’d ever want to go to University they’ll have to have the skills for the entrance exam. This is why we have chosen Homeschooling over road or un schooling.
A girlfriend of mine has been homeschooling her 2 children for the past 10 years // you can find her on Facebook and Instagram as Homeschoolersrus and her blogspot Be Thou Exalted she does lots of homeschool product reviews. She started me off on some curriculums.
I had a copy of the hours each grade was to spend on each subject per week from Katherine School of the Air [I searched for ever to find it for you and now I can’t but if you’d like the
Grade 4 and Grade 7 hours I have written them down, PM me on Facebook and I’ll pass them on] so with that I got the kids to sit down with me and created these timetables for our Grade 4 9yo DS and Grade 7 12yo DD. Along with the curriculum textbooks my girlfriend lent me and ones I purchased for the year. To make it easy to get my head and the kids head around I also worked out and listed how many pages or lessons they had to complete each day for each subject. This allows them to complete their year level by the end of Term 4.
We actually do not follow the times on these tables but we do follow the days. As now we can get out and about exploring and seeing this beautiful country of ours!
There were a couple of specific areas my DH and I wanted the kids to work on that we found they were lacking in and that was handwriting and their Timetables and I have to say they have improved immensely in just a few weeks.
Here is our list of curriculum we are using this year::
🔹Year 7 Math ~ Pearson Year 7 Math Textbook and eBook
🔹Year 4 Math ~ Teaching Textbooks Math 4
🔹Year 4 & 7 English & Spelling ~ ACE PACES for English and Word Building [but I’m finding they’re a bit too easy, not much challenge for them. But we’ll sick it out until the end of the year. Courtney likes them]
🔹Year 4 & 7 Art ~ Artventure.com.au when we have internet
🔹Handwriting ~ Targeting Handwriting textbooks for extra help in this area [which has improved immensely]
🔹Year 4 & 7 History ~ Mystery of History
🔹Year 4 & 7 Technology ~ Learning to type Dance Matt Typing
🔹Extra help for Timetables ~ DK Timetables iPad App. It is aimed at younger kids but every little bit helps and they enjoy it.
🔹 Year 4 & 7 Science ~ Zoology 1 Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day
🔹Assignment work ~ this is for the kids to decide what they’d like to research, create, write about, video, draw, photograph or PowerPoint etc. Our DS has decided he’d like to pull apart a Laptop and see how it all ticks so we’ll be on the search for a dead Laptop at the Tip Shop or something so he can have a tinker and Dad will explain all the parts to him and how they make it work. DD always has a lot of questions and with it being winter here in Tassie and snow falling on the mountains she is researching :: if hot air rises ~ why doesn’t it rise up mountains?
🔹A free App that has been the best used for imagination and creating their own little plays/skits over the years has been Puppet Pals Pocket
In this time our 17yo DD has decided that Year 12 is not for her and will not continue her studies with NTSDE but leave the nest in a month to go back to the Territory to get a job and start saving to go overseas with a volunteer organisation to Africa.
We have since tried to register for Homeschooling with our home State/Territory, the Northern Territory, but found out that we are not able to as a travelling family. I am not one to lie so I will not be applying to another State unless we are in that State for more than a few months and/or are required too.
Hints and tips:
Our 9yo being a boy absolutely hates school of any kind. Some days he gets up and gets stuck into school following his older sisters but other days he refuses.
At these times I try to get his mind off school for about 20 minutes, because by this time he’s upset and has a bad attitude and that’s no way to get any learning done.
So we encourage him to go for a ride or we have a game of cards or have a throw of a ball.
His whole attitude changes and then we sit down and get some work done…it may not be much that day but anything is better than nothing.
There are consequences, decisions in life have consequences, and he’s starting to learn that if pages and lessons are not completed on that day then more has to be done on other days!!!”
A little bit more about Narelle and her family:
“We are a family of 6, 2 adults and 4 kids. DH is a Personal Trainer and studying a Bachelor of Psychology and I have been a domestic goddess for the past 20 years. Our 19 year old moved out of home the year we left on our new journey. So on the road we have our 17yo DD, 12yo DD and 9yo DS, with visits from 19yo DD. You will find us on Facebook, Instagram and WordPress Blog as Travel it Forward. We mostly free camp everywhere”
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