I didn’t know what to say as a fellow parent pressed her point.
“You’ll be putting your kids at a great disadvantage, you know, pulling them out of school for a year. What’s it going to do to your daughter’s transcript when she applies to college?”
Well. I had to admit I hadn’t thought about that. School was an issue we needed to figure out.
In Montgomery County, Maryland, there is a well-worn path to success that leads through demanding private schools or public school magnet programs, SAT prep classes and extensive college application engineering.
There’s little time for just being a kid, not when there’s another advanced placement class, enrichment activity or volunteer opportunity to add to the resume.
Given its reputation as having one of the best public school systems in the country, I was surprised and pleased to find Montgomery County was rather broad-minded about homeschooling.
Aside from the hole in our daughter’s transcript, Dani and I felt we could figure out a way to make
homeschooling roadschooling work and ultimately our kids would be able to graduate high school with their peers.
As we began to investigate how to do it, we were amazed at the educational resources available on the Internet. From Indian tutors online to free college lectures, there was no shortage of educational materials that would allow us to focus on the places we planned to visit.
As in everything we’re doing to prepare for our trip, we’re trying to learn from the families who’ve gone before us.
The Andrus family taught four kids on the road. This blog post from their time in Turkey demonstrates the power of a place as a teaching tool. John and September Higham created an impressive educational program for their two children, including a reading list that focused on the countries they visited. Is there a better way to bring a place and a book to life?
These are just two examples of the creative ways families have integrated education with their travels. But while educational opportunities on the road may be endless, bureaucracies at home are too.
In order to make the transition in and out of our school system easier, we decided to work with The Learning Community International, an educational organization that is registered as a private school in Maryland. TLCI works with homeschooling families to ensure they meet all state educational requirements.
(Note: TLCI can work with families and school systems in other jurisdictions, depending on local laws).
Our big concern remains teaching math, a subject Dani and I would rather forget existed. But once again Internet resources are impressive, starting with Math.com. Our own school system produces math podcasts featuring The Math Dude.
If our kids never completed a single “school” assignment while we were traveling what would be lost? There is so much to be learned observing and appreciating how others live, what they think, what they value.
Makes that hole in the transcript look rather small.
Update (March 20, 2008): Turns out we won’t be working with the Learning Community International after all, and I cannot recommend them to others.
Months ago, when Dani first spoke to Manfred Smith at LCI, he was very encouraging and supportive of our trip, and full of ideas for home schooling on the road. He told us to contact him in early spring to begin working on an education plan.
Dani called him recently and felt she was talking to a different person. His attitude had decidedly soured, he didn’t want to discuss a program for us and didn’t want to meet with us until we had a letter from our school system saying they would accept his transcript.
Maybe he was having a bad day.
We are actively pursuing some other promising alternatives and will update this post when we have more information to share.