But what about school?
It’s what many people ask when they find out we’re travelling with our kid for a year.
Our daughter started school when she was two and a half. It was an all day, every day preschool complete with a red and navy polo-shirt uniform – adorable but a little weird.
Five years later, she dropped out of school and now I’m lucky if she’s wearing a shirt, let alone one with a collar.
I didn't really plan to be a homeschooling mom.
It was something we maybe, sort of thought we might to do for a year if the man got a job overseas, and that that was more of a fantasy than an actual, real-life plan. The man was homeschooled until eighth grade so we did have first-hand experience with the potential results. But beyond that “maybe someday” thought, we were regular parents who sent our school-age daughter to the local public school.
She did well, made friends and didn't totally hate it. We liked her teachers and the community, volunteered for field trips and knew the names of the kids in her grade. We had no major complaints beyond the usual grumblings about packing lunches, lost mittens, head lice and the new math.
So what happened?
Our decision to leave school came gradually and evolved as my career changed, our family’s plans and priorities changed...and as she changed. With me now working from home and with her leaving for a year anyway, we saw an opportunity to start homeschooling sooner rather than later.
We're glad we did. Eight months in and it’s working. We're all calmer and happier and she's more focused, confident and likely to help around the house.
However, homeschooling isn’t really the right word. Ottawa has a big homeschooling community and the internet offers a wealth of information, advice and opportunities, which allow families to create a tailor-made, hybrid education!
She does do some math and language arts at the dining room table (or on the floor or upside down on the couch) most days, but she also goes to French, piano, karate, soccer practice, museums and the library. We've done weekly theatre class for homeschoolers, gym class drop-in and nature school. There are live online classes about everything from optical illusion art to paragraph writing, science workshops and science fairs, book-reading and documentary-watching, and a seemingly endless stream of ideas and projects spewing from her imagination.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all moments of Instagram-worthy educational bliss…not even close. There are days when I push us both too hard or not enough. There have been tears streaming down both of our faces, ripped paper, thrown pencils, raised voices and threats to march her back to school. There are many moments of frustration when we're not at our best. Some days we get on each other's nerves, some days there are way too many armpit farting noises, and some days I have to almost beg her to do some math. Some days are tough and some days are just okay.
However, some days are amazing!
Next year, she’ll embark on the ultimate field trip. We’ll keep up with the math and the English and keep trekking along with French, but the rest will be allowed to unfold as it may, dictated by our latest location or adventure.
The plan was to return her to school when we get back but that now seems unlikely. We’ve grown accustomed to the sense of calm, intimacy and curiosity that has spread over our family.
But who know…Two years ago I didn’t imagine being here building superhero puppets out of toilet paper rolls.
I also didn’t imagine how fulfilling it would be to see those moments when an elusive addition concept clicks in her brain and how fun it would be to learn about ninjas and samurais of feudal Japan right along with her.
I couldn’t imagine being at home with my kid EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Now she and I can’t imagine being anywhere else…especially somewhere that requires a polo shirt.