One of the questions I am asked most often is what we are doing about the kids’ education while we are traveling. When this school year started, I put a lot of time and effort into answering that very question. I didn’t want my kids to miss out on a year of school and have to essentially repeat their 8th and 9th grade. My hope was to provide an equivalent amount of education so they could move on to the next grade when they returned to school the following year.
What I essentially found out was that there is no easy answer to this question. There is no one way to go about education. There is no plan for people who want to pull kids out for only one year. There is no way to earn more than 2 high school credits outside of high school (unless you do online school, in which case you need to be online for several hours each day). For Tyler this won’t matter too much as he will be missing his 8th grade year and credits don’t come into play. For RJ it is more important as he will miss 9th grade and the entire year’s worth of credits.
The best option we found was to make our own plan. We first reviewed the common core standards to see what would be expected of an 8th and 9th grade student. We spoke with principals and counselors at both the middle school and high school to find out what would translate best on our return to the school system. We looked into every online school, home school support system, and web site that we were pointed to.
Ultimately, we came up with the following plan:
- English – both kids will do a comprehensive research paper on a subject of their choosing that explores their topic in all of the places we visit. I believe Tyler has chosen music and RJ has chosen insects – at least that’s the plan this week. We will read a few classic literature pieces and discuss as a family. We may have the boys do some writing on these pieces as well. Both boys will have a journal and will be expected to write at least three times per week. They will also be involved in updating the blog.
- Math – We will use Khan Academy for lessons and practice. We have also picked up a couple of math workbooks for times when we can’t be online. And don’t forget about keeping track of our budget for real world math experience!
- Science – We will use Khan Academy for science topics as well.
- Social Studies – This will be covered by the trip itself… reading about each country, its history, talking to people, visiting museums and historic sites, exploring national parks, etc.
- Physical Education – Since the kids will be out walking the world, PE will be a part of everyday life.
- World Language – We will all study Spanish via Duolingo. While not the most practical language for this trip as we are only visiting one Spanish speaking country, our hope is to give the boys some practice before high school. We will also be learning at least a few common words and phrases in multiple languages as we go.
Even after all of that, RJ will miss his freshman year of high school and will need to complete the required number of credits in order to graduate. However, his graduation date has already been extended so that he can go at a slower pace through high school. And, if this year goes well, we may keep him in a home school environment for the duration of high school. But all those decisions will have to wait until next year. For now, we are just hoping we can accomplish the tasks we set out above!
See anything we missed? We are open to suggestions!