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Home Schooling versus Distance Education – schooling primary aged children on the road.

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Schooling Primary Aged Children On The Road

When you start doing your research on schooling options for a year of travel on the road, you are basically left with two options – Home Schooling or Distance Education. I will stress that this is based on our experience with primary school aged children – not high school.

  • Distance Education is where you formally enrol in a distance education provider and do the school work they set.
  • Home Schooling is where you apply for permission to home school and have the responsibility of ensuring your child is schooled in accordance with the national curriculum.

Our local primary school was all on-board with our plan, and provided us with the workbooks the kids used over the year.  unfortunately the maximum time a Principal is allowed to grant leave for is one term, so we had to ensure we enrolled in either Distance Education or Home Schooling.

Learning how to read maps / work out distances…

Home Schooling is far more flexible when travelling as you can tailor your child’s school work to the areas you are travelling in.  Unfortunately NSW requires the schooling to take place at a NSW residential address, meaning if you are intending to home school whilst travelling, they will reject your application as they did to us.  So much for home being where the heart is.

Thankfully other states are far more accommodating, and after a few phone calls, we enrolled in the Queensland Home Schooling system.  We figured that as all students are now working towards a single national curriculum so there shouldn’t really be any difference in their learning objectives.  Our only requirement was a Queensland residential address… sometimes it helps to have family in the Sunshine State!

Schooling is a necessary evil when travelling for an extended period

We found the following worked best for our home schooling:

  • We formally announced school starting – and the boys referred to us as Mr and Mrs G. We are not Mum and Dad whilst school was being conducted.
  • We only did formal school work in the mornings, straight after breakfast. It did not work in the afternoon at all.
  • We commenced with spelling using a spelling app on their iPad.
  • We then did a few sessions of maths using the Targeting Maths app appropriate to their level.
  • This was followed with a short physical break (catching a ball or cricket).
  • Followed by a journal article or other literacy written work.
  • At night we do reading before settling down to bed.

And that is about it. We have visited so many wonderful natural places, museums and other attractions where there is so much to see and learn. We encouraged the boys to read the information placards, and explain to us what they mean.

Reading the placards reveals so much information – but don’t tell the kids they’re learning!

Schooling can also be fun – and flexible in where and when we do it. Whilst the washing machines and dryers were working double time at Denmark, we were a little crestfallen to find the library opened late on our planned morning in town. I saw an opportunity to try a little cafe latte schooling!

A nice hot chocolate can provide all sorts of motivation!

In other life skills, the boys took on the responsibility of cooking one dinner a week. This included buying the food for that meal (to a set budget). The only stipulation was that they had to account for the main meal – before they spent what was left on dessert! To their credit most meals (and desserts) were delicious.

Chores – part of the school of life!

One thing we trialed was to give the boys a project they published online. Their projects can be found here:



Just looking back on some of the magical experiences the boys have seen, and how much they have developed in the past 12 months on the road, I can honestly say that they gained an immeasurable experience in so many parts of life. It was thrilling and humbling to share this year with them, and being a part of their journey.

You might be able to read about petroglyphs made by Aboriginals – how about go and see them and sit in the same place, looking out over the same timeless view.



Who knows where the day’s lessons will come from – a chance sighting of a Sturt’s Desert Pea provided a nice botanical lesson opportunity.

Some wonderful people have helped us make it all come true. A huge thank you to the wonderful staff at our local primary school – who have all supported us on our journey. Also to my brother and his wife, who as primary teachers have also given us some great resources and hints and tips to help us on our journey.

Finally thank you to our boys – who willingly came along with us on our crazy adventure, and have shown us a whole new world through their eyes.

More information can be found at the links below – but if you are interested in home schooling – either don’t tell NSW you will be travelling – or enrol in Queensland!

NSW Board of Studies: http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/parents/home-schooling.html

Education Queensland: http://education.qld.gov.au/parents/home-education/about.html

For more information, check out Thrive On The Road – Tips and tricks to make your holiday on the road every bit as enjoyable as it should be


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