I’m the first to admit I’m exceptionally naive when it comes to the ways of education.
This week I decided I should tackle the task of doing what ever it is I needed to do to be ready for the girls to start doing school work on the road. See the naivety right there. Glaring isn’t it?!
In my head schooling on the road was going to be as simple as dragging the spelling, handwriting and maths books back from school prior to our departure, swatting up on some of the strategies the girls teachers have been using this year, cadging a wad of sight word sheets, splashing out for a book of mental maths work sheets, updating the Maths Puppy and Reading Eggs subscriptions, purchasing a reader thingo for each of the big girls. And that was pretty much it. Add some art supplies and voila. School’s sorted.
It should be reiterated this is how the preparation played out in my head. The actual schooling of the actual children, totally and absolutely PETRIFIES the beejeezus out of me.
Some weeks ago I had a brief over-the-fence-at-drop-and-go conversation with our current school Principal and left with the impression the process was as simple as registering with a government department and heading on our merry way. So simple did I believe the process to be I totally forgot about it.
At 10pm Monday night I headed off to the Education Queensland website expecting to print out a page or two, sign them and end the night putting a lovely thick tick next to that task on the list.
Yet right there on the Education Queensland website (and other associated worm holes) is my friends where I stayed for nothing short of twenty five hours.
Straight up it was pretty clear this wasn’t going to be as simple as I thought.
The information provided by both the Home Education Unit and the Distance Education Unit clearly inferred our only option for schooling whilst traveling overseas was by enrolling in the Brisbane School of Distance Education. Still in some deluded state I figured this was really no biggie. Our Principal had dropped the words distance and education into our conversation, so off I went to the Brisbane School of Distance Education page slightly nervous but still hoping for a straight forward process.
As I started to download the eight or so PDFs pertaining to education whilst overseas, my heart started to creep ever closer to my mouth. With every piece of paper that churned out of the printer, my expectation of grabbing the books and the card games and doing a few hours of daily lessons in the back of the caravan, helping to pen a beautifully detailed travel journal and insisting on a geography poster or two of historical points of interest started to dissolve.
There was the resource purchase list and the full itinerary that was required. The postage addresses and the DHL shipping fees. The scheduling of the daily online hook up with a teacher and the fees. Oh my lord the fees. As it’s our intention to move around where ever and when ever WOOFer jobs are available (usually in isolated country areas) there is no way we could fulfill even a small number of the requirements stipulated by Distance Education.
The second catch was registering as a Home Educator through the Home School Unit wasn’t an option either as you need to be assessed. And the first requirement is to have an actual “home”, in the state you register, to educate in – obvious really. There were other complications with this option but it didn’t stop me from progressing into a full lather of panic about how I could circumvent the above requirement and trick the assessor into thinking we were going to be here for the long haul. By 2am I was fully prepared to unpack every pre-packed box to make this charade a reality.
Everything just seemed so hard. TOO hard. And so confusing. And way more than my already over crowded brain could cope with.
An email conversation with a lovely former playgroup friend, who has had experience with both home education and distance education, unceremoniously denounced both options as “totally crap” (for our situation, not crap in general!). But she did suggest I call the Home Education Unit where she felt I would be given way more concise information than I’d been able to find online (so obvious really!).
Now anyone out there who is an introvert (or just socially awkward like me) will know the internet is the single best thing ever to happen to us folks. If for no other reason than it eliminates the requirement to make a phone call and talk to a real person in 98% of cases. This was clearly something that sad in the dreaded 2%.
And after 25 hours of going around in circles and getting stressed and tired and disillusioned I had been worn down enough to actually pick up the phone. And in one 5 minute phone, all the damage of worm holes and web pages was eliminated and my naivety reigned supreme once more!
The lesson learned is thus. When in doubt. Talk to a person.
It really is as simple as I thought. For any unlucky “research” victim who has found their way to this page, hoping for enlightenment on this subject, this is for you;
- You un-enrol from your current school.
- Leave the country.
- Adhere to the legal education requirements for the country you are currently residing (ie in Germany you can’t home shcool, in the UK you can, in the US you have to register in some states etc – please do further worm hole research into this if you are staying somewhere for a length of time – i suggest you call someone!)
- If you are traveling (as we are) there is no requirement to register with anyone in particular
- You do NOT have to educate through Distance Education (unless you want to). There are benefits to using Distance Ed but in our circumstances the negatives outweighted the advantages.
- You can do as much or as little work as you desire, using what ever resources you wish but if you want your kids to come back to school and pick up where all the other kids are, then you have to make the commitment to keep up with the curriculum.
This doesn’t in any way change the fact that I will have to develop some kind of lesson plans and teaching strategies and I will have to have some vague idea of what the hell the kids need to know to keep up with their peers. All that makes me feel slightly ill and I know I’m totally out of my depth, but I figure I can stress about that over the coming weeks. I can always do some research on the internet!