It’s getting harder and harder to get children out of school. But what if it’s for an experience that will change their lives?
So, one day we had this fanciful notion of packing up our car and our kids and driving around the world for a year.
Yes, driving. Around the world. With a seven and a 10-year-old. For a year. In the one vehicle. Easy.
In the end it took five years of planning – revising itineraries, checking weather conditions, researching visas, reviewing health matters and of course, determining what to do about the kids’ schooling.
There has been some talk in the media recently about taking kids out of school for family holidays. Well, this wasn’t a trip to Dreamworld. We considered the loss of formal school time would be more than made up for by what Maddy and Raffy would learn on the road. To make sure of this, we consulted our primary school and, with the principal’s blessing, we enrolled our kids (then in grade 5 and grade 1) in the Distance Education Centre Victoria.
The kids were allocated a teacher with whom they were in contact. They kept up with the basics in English and Maths and work was posted back to Australia on a sporadic basis with feedback received via email.
The life education they received on the road far exceeded what was covered in the classroom. We travelled through 24 countries. Raffy and Maddy learnt to count in seven languages and their linguistic skills were so much better than ours that they interpreted for us and bartered in markets. They made an effort to also learn the basics of saying “hello” “thank you” and “goodbye” in the language whichever country we were in. And they learnt that people appreciated the effort made to communicate.
Read more: A traveller’s guide to Turkey.
Patience was nurtured waiting for hours at border crossings while bored guards inspected our paperwork. Geography and colonial history were explored travelling across continents. Geo-politics was understood comparing housing and living standards from South East Asia to the United States of America to Europe and back to Asia.
One of the most rewarding experiences was viewing the world through their eyes. Raffy discovered in Laos that you could quite easily play with kids your own size even if you didn’t share a language. Maddy had conversations with girls her age in India on the importance of education. They marveled at the size of meals in America, and understood a little of the significance of Turkey’s Dardanelles Strait to both ancient and more modern history.