Comments on: “Home”schooling So Far The Smith family of Piedmont, CA, goes round the world. Fri, 05 Apr 2013 02:52:51 +0000 hourly 1 By: Kristen Sat, 26 Jan 2013 18:40:14 +0000 I am seriously considering a year abroad with my kids. Your sight is giving me the courage to actually do this. I will be using your sight as a guide. Thanks so much.

By: andrea Tue, 06 Dec 2011 20:02:25 +0000 hi we are considering traveling for the first semester of next year in Europe with our children…. this blog was sent to me through fodors and is very encouraging…. actually our kids are the age yours are in these stories of your travels…. homeschooling is the most daunting aspect of the experience for me… and leaving my furries behind for so long:)… thank you!

By: dolores russo Sun, 10 Jul 2011 23:07:25 +0000 As a teacher for many years – and a parent – I have always believed that children learn best when supported by 2 loving parents such as yourself and Morgan. Your post was reflective of all of that. Although you are all “home” now and life has resumed to its pre-roadschool travels, I am sure you are still participating in your children’s education. As a teacher I was taught that the first teachers in a child’s life are their parents. If more parents participated in their child’s education there would be better public education all around. We can’t do it all as public school or even private school teachers. We can’t fix the problems of the family this child comes from. All we can do is show them the way to be independent and self-sufficient in this complicated world we live in. Your children have been exposed to a wonderful experience that they will never forget. And you, as the parents, will never forget the part you played in letting your children “fly” out of the nest with all the unconditional love you give them. As they grow you will see changes, but you will also see the influence you had on them in many good ways. You are both the “teachers of the year.” And for every year after. Keep up the good work. OH, and don’t let the differences in “teachers” dissuade you from sticking with what you believe to be the “best teaching practices.” The reason your child has so many teachers during their growing up years is so they can learn to adjust to different views and different personalities. I love the creative approach of Morgan. It’s how I teach. But when I team taught with another teacher, he was the one who did the creative thing and I was the one who said “We have a curriculum to follow, which I wrote for the district by the way!” We worked it out…the kids really benefitted from our different views of how to teach. One way or another, they “got it.”
Thank you parents for being the kind of parents we as teachers absolutely adore.

By: 28 nomadic families who travel with kids: Part 4 of 4 Thu, 15 Jul 2010 22:36:28 +0000 […] they tailored the kids’ studies to leverage the educational opportunities of their travels. She says: I cherish the time Colly and I were playing around with word choices while reviewing her blog, and […]

By: Theodora Fri, 18 Jun 2010 14:01:35 +0000 We’re doing unschooling now. It does, to be honest, work so much better. Learning comes much more easily. And I think one thing you confront as a parent is how much time in school is spent doing things other than learning. Sitting quietly, for example… I’ll be interested to see where you end up with schooling now that you’re home. I wrote about our experience here…

By: Jason Sun, 02 May 2010 16:20:13 +0000 Nice post about homeschooling. We’re from Marin and doing the same thing at about the same time; we’re currently in Italy.
Here’s an interesting post on homeschooling from our blog:

Keep it up!

By: soultravelers3 Thu, 08 Apr 2010 10:29:10 +0000 As a family on an open ended, non stop world tour since 2006, living large on 23 dollars a day per person, with no end in sight ….I have to agree with Morgan & David.

Follow your brothers lead, now & when you return. They don’t need school to maintain friends & can SOAR without a dying school system. Always choose freedom!!

By: Ruthwillsam Fri, 13 Nov 2009 17:52:22 +0000 Fantastic post and comments – thanks, seeing someone who has first hand experience of home-schooling on the road and that it hasn’t completely disrupted your childrens education and actually is only enhancing it is a breath of fresh air. Schooling on the road is the one thing that worries me and I think it’s just because you are going against the ‘norm’ which frightens people, who feel it’s their duty to tell you that you are doing the wrong thing. So thanks for presenting another side to the argument

By: Leslie Louie Wed, 04 Nov 2009 05:32:14 +0000 Sarah and Morgan –

Congratulations for your efforts and thoughtfulness about teaching Colly and Kyle. It’s never easy, and I’m convinced that kids will learn and be resilient in spite of their parents! But with such caring and thoughtful parents, I think you can’t go wrong. Give yourselves credit for the experiences you are providing them by traveling and exposing them to the real world. As people point out to us while we are here in Kenya, not all children get the chance to experience another culture and live in other countries. It will shape their lives in ways that we can’t anticipate (hopefully mostly positive!).

Because we are staying in one place, we have enrolled the girls in a local international school that follows the British system. We could have gone to an American international school, but we thought this would be more interesting (no point in coming here just to try and make it like home). Plus it’s closer to our house. The girls love their school and their new friends who come from all over the world. I have brought along some books from school and bought some online including leap pad books (which they love). Plus they have their diaries and write a newsletter every month for 4-H and Carlee’s school paper. I feel like as long as they have the writing, math and reading down, the rest is icing on the cake. East African history is not in the California State Standards, but frankly it’s much more interesting! Our biggest problem is fitting in all the travel I want to do before we have to go home! I’ll play a game with Carlee to teach her the states and their capital cities later.

Thanks for your very descriptive posts. We’ll have lots of notes to compare later!

By: Victoria Sun, 01 Nov 2009 16:25:37 +0000 Thanks for pointing me to your blog after I left a comment on your daughters. I’ve spent a very interesting hour reading all about your road schooling thoughts and experiences, an issue which I’m naturally very interested in as we’ll be doing the same thing this time next year. Our children are a little younger than yours at 7, 5 and 3 (8, 6 and 4 when we head off), so I’m not too worried about the 2 littlest ones, who’ll need to learn to read and do simple sums, but not too much else. When we went to our eldest’s parent teacher meeting a couple of weeks ago and mentioned our plans her first comment was “wow, what an education she’ll get”. The head of her school has also been supportive, so I guess many teachers can see the value in getting out of the classroom for a while. I’m hoping that a few workbooks like you mentioned, plus reading novels, lots of currency conversions, learning new languages, plotting routes on maps etc will more than cover what she needs to know. I’m glad you’re finding a balance, I know I don’t want to travel half way around the world and end up spending too much time indoors doing school work.

Lots of food for thought, thank you!

PS I’ve added you to our blog roll

By: angela rehm Fri, 23 Oct 2009 05:02:48 +0000 I’m so glad the road schooling is working out for everyone. It really inspires me. I’ve been worrying about the teaching ‘requirements’ for kindergarten. while we are on road..which include a lot of drawing and writing letters. Nothing Bode is interested in. He did mention wanting to make laws after visiting the Parliament in Canada and knows more about volcanoes than I ever will. I’m pretty sure he will learn to write at some point in his life, but won’t ever have these opportunities. Colly and Kyle are really lucky, and they’ll learn more this year than ever!

By: fiona lewis Tue, 20 Oct 2009 04:08:08 +0000 sorry if that comment was cheesy

By: fiona lewis Tue, 20 Oct 2009 04:06:32 +0000 um, I’m really jealous! Schedule’s stink! i love the idea of being able to learn about stuff that makes you think than stuff that makes you want to rebel against modern society!(And its too high standards) Where did the times go when you learn not lectured! Even though school is really fun i think it is great that you let them see a whole new perspective on life. It will last them forever.

By: Byrne Reese Mon, 19 Oct 2009 17:48:17 +0000 Great post, and a great concept I can get behind: “road-schooling.” Not much of a home-schooler, but given children a chance to see the world for a year is something I consider to be one of the best education opportunities you could possibly give a child.

Re: your conflicting teaching styles:

Both of the mind sets informing the two approaches are equally valid (obviously). I would want to give my children an exposure to a healthy dose of both philosophies and step one for me would be structure and predictability. Block out days or big blocks of time in which the dominant philosophy to dictate the course of the day will be yours and on another day let the dominant philosophy be that of your husband’s.

I would never present it as such to the kids because I think it is important personally for the curriculum to be someone opaque and not one where parts are strongly associated with “mom’s way of doing things” vs. “dad’s way of doing things.” Just agree with your teaching partner what the schedule is and make them head-master for that day.

But just my 0.02, or 0.001 Uraguain pesos I suppose.

Inspiring post! I can’t wait to follow it through out the year!

By: David Mon, 19 Oct 2009 15:28:34 +0000 Sarah,

Great post.

My first impulse was to keep this comment short: “Morgan is right!”

But given that this is an issue close to my heart, I figured I’d go ahead and explain just why I think he’s right. And, to give you (and your readers) some perspective, Karen was Morgan (and I was the fretful you) way back when she first started wondering just why we should send our kids, whom we were having so much fun with, to school in the first place—and this was when we had tuition-free access to Monica Ros, a terrific private pre & elementary school in Ojai.

I freaked—much as you seemed to be doing, Sarah—and my first impulse was to try and recreate the classroom at home (there’s a useful distinction to be made between “homeschooling”—whose not entirely unjustified stereotype has an overly large family of fundamentalist Christians all gathered around their desks—arranged in neat rows as if this were really school, not home—dutifully saluting the flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, God and all) and “unschooling” which is what we quickly wound up practicing (c.f John Holt’s Growing Without Schooling website) and toward which Morgan seems currently inclined.

Kids are naturally curious. They’re going to learn if we can simply get out of the way. When you think about it, autodidacts—doing essentially what Colly and Kyle are doing right now—have a much, much longer history than those “institutionalized” learners, whom we for some reason now take as the model. Certainly, they’re the norm; but when you think about it, what’s really “normal” about what happens in school? John Taylor Gatto (twice New York State Teacher of the Year) presents a pretty scathing critique of the public school system in his “Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling” in which he includes a useful analogy between the public school and the public library (in the former, learners are segregated by age and ability; they read books written by committees, not individuals; and just as they’re getting into a subject, someone blows a whistle in their ear and tells them to move on to something else). Another book you’d really enjoy is by those unrepentant Marxists, Stanley Arononwitz and Henry Giroux, who, in their terribly titled “PostModern Education” unwittingly make the academic case for homeschooling (both are big believers, as I am, in publicly funded educational opportunities, but question whether public schooling, as currently constituted, represents much of an opportunity for education).

Anyway, as a public school educator, my biggest concern is with the way in which the very institution of the public school manages to teach all these terrible lessons even before we get the kids in the classroom. The most insidious of these is the lesson that learning is time and site specific—i.e. that for these 45 or 50 minutes (and only during this time) you’re going to learn about math; and then you’re going to move on to another room and learn about something which we adults are implicitly telling you is entirely unrelated. Emerson also wrote that “nothing is more sacred than the integrity of your own mind,” and yet, one way or another, public school—as an institution—is forever dis-integrating learning. The next step for something that is presented as unrelated is to have it become irrelevant in the child’s mind, and I worry that, as an indirect result, the first thing we crush out of kids is their natural curiosity (and this happens long before they reach my classroom as juniors or seniors). Ask a kid—any kid—what their favorite part of school is, and I’ll wager their answer will either be lunch or recess. In other words, kids see the best part of school as NOT school. Clearly, we’re doing something wrong.

Of course, many teachers can and do overcome these obstacles to authentic learning; but speaking from experience, it’s hard (and frustrating) work. By contrast, taking a much more holistic approach to learning—letting young people experience life unmediated by state-sanctioned lesson plans and their corresponding standards and benchmarks—just seems so much more appropriate for kids like Colly and Kyle. And what incredible opportunities you and Morgan are creating for them!

So relax, have fun, and be amazed at their growth in the coming year!

By: Martha Mon, 19 Oct 2009 11:40:38 +0000 Sounds like it’s going really well! Congrats to you and Morgan for making this happen for Colly and Kyle. Love you guys –

:) Martha

By: Cheryl Mon, 19 Oct 2009 06:38:56 +0000 School is overrated…lol. Seriously though, as someone who attended 13 different schools between k and 12 (technically k and 11 since I skipped my junior year in high school) I can vouch that you can learn more out of a classroom than in one, and that it only takes a couple of weeks to catch up to any curriculum. You are doing a fantastic job! Don’t worry so much about an imagined “perfect education”’ve raised smart,inquisitive kids. Make sure to keep having fun. Love and miss you :)

By: Sarah Sun, 18 Oct 2009 14:10:27 +0000 Dear Sarah,

What wonderful, thoughtful insights to your year of travel and views on road schooling. What you and Morgan are teaching Colly and Kyle cannot be matched in the ‘physical’ classroom and observing, touching, seeing and experiencing out in the real world is something that none of you will ever forget. These are truly life’s lessons. Soak it all in. -Sarah