The bits in between

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We are a family of four who were living in Reading, just west of London in England who are family travel enthusiasts. We swapped our comfortable lifestyle with successful jobs and a nice house for long term family travel.

Here’s how it all started.

Have I told you…I’m a head teacher but I’m home schooling my children?

In fact, I’ve quit my job, sold our house and bought a family ticket to travel around the world. Why?

My children are only one school year apart. My youngest, my daughter, should be starting reception this year and the oldest of them, my son, should be in Year 1.

I’ve been teaching infant aged children for 12 years but nothing has baffled me, or is teaching me as much than teaching my own children.

So all you guys out there thinking that home schooling is easy… let me tell you… it isn’t.  That isn’t because I don’t have the resources or the knowledge of the curriculum or how to teach. It is because I am their mum. And this is different from being their teacher.

People have asked me- are you actually teaching them, or just saying you are? Now, to me, home schooling isn’t just day trips and horse riding lessons. Although this is a big part of it. These are the stimulus for what we learn about. The hook. This makes the children interested and it’s real to them. Children actually need to be taught how to read and write and how to do maths.

And then…my goodness, there is so much more. Learning how to ride bikes, how to use a library, learning how to swim, use a knife efficiently, learning other basic culinary skills, working with others, sharing, taking turns, solving problems, being resilient…don’t get me started.

The roles of what should be done in school and at home are so blurred and is always debated. Parents thinking- can’t they do that at school and teachers thinking- surely it’s up to their parents…

I know only too well what goes on in school. What OFSTED look out for, what makes a good teacher and school. Sometimes I question it all. Asking myself ‘is this just all too much?’

By the way, I am always asked- were they ok with you taking your children out of school?

Well nobody cares. What I mean is, as long as you are taken off role and not causing the school a poor attendance then the school doesn’t mind. In fact they support some real life schooling. The authority have not been in contact with me and have not been round to my home to find out if I am actually ‘schooling’ my children or if I have an appropriate home in which to teach them. They don’t know I am a teacher or that we are soon to be gone on a year to find some answers.

Read what the press published about me without any consent. 

On our travels life is one big school day trip. Which makes our learning easier and more personalised. I guess this is what makes it different. It’s constant rather than ‘in school time’. But this undefined new role I’ve found myself in is way harder and more exhausting than teaching 30 children for a whole day. Or for that matter, leading a school. This is because of the emotional attachment I have with my children and the expectations they have of me.

Children are always looking up to their parents for guidance and support. They copy, they pretend, they decide not to do it your way as their way is better. Whichever way they learn from you, it is so different from being in the role as their teacher.

I was not expecting this discovery. And now faced with this new challenge we have made our own groove and it is so enjoyable. The choice and flexibility is the biggest benefit and they are just so interested about everything!

But why am I doing this? 

Life got too fast paced. Too busy – filled up. I felt it wasn’t purposeful. Too stressful and not enough time to appreciate the bits in between.

So off we go to explore…

…The Bits In Between.

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(Photo: Singapore)

 

Where abouts in the world are you right now?

We have been on our trip and returned to England after a year travelling as a family. We are currently in Norfolk and making our way to The Cotswolds to start along our new pathway.

What do you love about this place?

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(Photo: Local Norfolk woods)

Norfolk is my home. My husband and I grew up in East Anglia and so when we returned it seemed natural for us to go there.  It was been a real healing zone for me. The children love the beach and the forest and these are the two places that there is lots of in Norfolk. To have these environments to learn from feel like the ‘bread and butter’ for their education. The people are so welcoming, the school they have been attending is small and heavily focused on learning from the outdoors and everyone we have met has been unbelievably friendly.

Read more on The places we have been’

Anything you don’t like?!

Norfolk’s charm is how tucked away it is from the rest of England. I almost feel in another country as it seems so far away from our old life in Reading. Work has been tricky to find in my husband’s sector so he has had to work away during the week and return on long, slow roads at the weekend. We are moving to the Cotswolds so he can work but we still get a country life.

On our trip we were lucky enough to not have any bad experiences that tainted our stay anywhere. All the countries and continents were so different and we loved them all for different reasons.

What are the three most challenging aspects that stand out?

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(Photo: Zion National Park USA)

1.    Sleep deprivation after travelling on long haul flights- always make sure you can get food from somewhere or take it with you. No one is at their best when tired or hungry!

2.    Mosquito bites in Sri Lanka- Not everywhere had nets but when we asked they provided them. (We were staying in land, in jungle terrain, surrounded by water…not our best choice but it was beautiful!!!)

3.    Packing and unpacking too often-it got annoying

How’s the food!

We tried all sorts and this has made our children ‘willing’ to at least try new things once! Let’s hope this stays.

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 (Photo: skiing in Park City-Utah)

Any funny, interesting or daunting experiences along the way?

I fell on some rocks in New Zealand and had to go to emergency health care which was the worst accident we had but I was seen to straight away and because I was British I got free care as well.  Our medical kit seemed to be used a lot, mostly for splinters and getting things in eyes. We always had a travel version with us and over ordered on the plasters, Germolene and insect bite cream.

Can you give us 3 tips for making it work?

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(Photo – Cloudy Bay Winery in NZ)

If this has been a dream of yours then don’t worry about the ‘but what if…’ questions. You can do anything to make it work.  Sometimes time is needed and lots of effort but anything is possible. Make sure everyone has a say on what is happening on the trip. The children were asked and given options about what we did and where we went.  At one point in the RV they said… “please can we just have a few days without travel” so we listened to them and stopped. Don’t be put off by the home schooling experience if you haven’t done it before but know it will be constant and challenging at times. Yet seeing your children learning is a wonderful experience.

Do you have any financial tips for travelling?

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(Photo: Montezuma-Costa Rica)

·         Budget!

·         Keep a record of what you spend

·         We got a credit card that didn’t charge for getting cash out or for transactions for 18 months. This saved us LOADS of money!

·         Try not to eat out often. It’s not as healthy and it’s fun exploring different markets.

·         Air bnb was great for us as a family. Look for deals, try and go out of season for better deals, ask owners for a discount for a longer stay.

What do you miss, if anything?

I don’t remember missing anything on our trip. I think we planned pretty well. Here is a link to our Prep For Travel guide.

What advice would you give to other Mamas planning on travelling with their family?

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(Santa Teresa – Costa Rica)

·         Keep time pressures out of your travel-so allow plenty of time.

·         Travel less. Stay longer in one place to explore from that area.

·         Enjoy quiet moments as much as the exciting ones.

·         Our children were toilet trained before we went this trip which made things easier in getting around. We didn’t need pushchairs or anything like that so we could hike where we wanted.

Where can we find you?!

The Bits in Between Blog!

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Photo: Sri Lanka safari