As you all have learned by now, we are an avid homeschooling family who has taken to the open globe for a world schooling experience. Most of the world schooling families that you come across practice a form of ‘schooling’ known as ‘unschooling’ they require almost none, if anything, as far as supplies and books are concerned. We unschool a few subjects and many experiences, but we are primarily a homeschooling family with a curriculum and a small, though present, need for school supplies. When I began making a packing list for this year long trip I obviously couldn’t bring EVERYTHING that we had come to use regularly. We only had four of our thematic books left for the year from our curriculum resource (see previous May article) so I wanted to bring those. Everything else was planning for the unknown. What would each child be interested in? What resources would I have abroad? Would school supplies be easy to find? Affordable? Would my child currently learning to read have access to the right books? I had no idea.
On the Road Packing List
The original packing list for schooling on the road looked something like this:
- Four thematic books (Pebbles for you pocket, tide pools, Hiawatha and the Peace Maker and the complete works of Beatrix Potter)
- A notebook for each boy
- A journal for each boy
- A new box of pencils per child
- Pencil sharpener
- One box of colored pencils
- One box of crayons per child
- One coloring book per child
- One boogie board per child
- The Usborne Fairy Tale collection (very heavy items)
- The Usborne paper plane book
- An Usborne sticker book per child
- The Usborne beginning to read collection
- Little wooden spelling rods
- Book of Greek Myths
I feel that in list form it does not seem excessive for a whole year, but my oh my has that list changed. For starters, once all of these things were packed, our luggage was too heavy and some of it overweight entirely. Plan B, I sent some of it home with my father to ship to us once we were settled in Greece, but turns out it costs approximately a hundred dollars to ship most anything to Greece. Those items never made it to us so my plan was revised again.
Plan C of Schooling on the Road
It came to my attention, shortly after our Northern European tour, that in Greece specifically, school supplies were easy to come by, but English books would be a real challenge to find. By the time we arrived in Greece mid-April we had one remaining thematic book and had been notified that our books from my dad would not be coming. Therefore, the hunt for new material began. We found two workbooks in Greek that were simple enough that we could use them without translating every word. Those bought me a few more weeks.
What I should have packed
Lesson learned, I could have gone without packing a single school supply and squeezed in more books. So what did I end up doing? Well I needed to place an amazon order for the oldest’s birthday present so I tacked on more school books since I was already paying a fortune to get the camera to us. That got us through another two months.
We also found an inexpensive small abacus that helped tremendously while it lasted. We improvised with counting sea glass pieces and leaves once our little plastic abacus bit the dust, but it was a nice addition while we had it. Most recently, my mother came to visit and she replenished our school books and supplies hopefully getting us through the month of August when we rendezvous with the next friend from the U.S.
Hunting for Curriculum Substitutes
What did I do about our thematic book curriculum? Well I had to find some major substitutes that were location dependent. While we were on the island of Crete, visiting the Palace of Knossos, we found quite a few Greek battle story books in English! Now that we are on the mainland of Greece again these books are guiding our cultural history and field trip planning. We found books about the Trojan War, the Battle of Marathon and Leonidas and the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. We will be visiting Thermopylae this month as well as Marathon and Sparta. It has actually worked out in my favor that we crossed paths with these books because they are now prioritizing our field trip adventures.
I also had my mother bring Italian Renaissance books for our stays in Venice and Italy later this summer. The plan for the summer is laid out and currently working, plan D will take place at the end of August. Location dependent learning can be absolutely wonderful if you can find English resources. In my personal opinion, that is what world schooling is all about! One thing you can plan for is the unexpected to happen. If you stay flexible in your curriculum planning and open minded in your learning options you won’t need a plan at all. Enjoy the wonder of learning in whatever form it finds you this year.