We covered how as Singaporeans we are able to homeschool our kids legally in this post. https://www.hirojack.com/blog/how-we-home-school-2-kids-while-we-travel
We did cover some aspects of how we teach and what we use on our travels to homeschool them. I felt that I didn’t cover the road schooling aspect sufficiently.
Road schooling is basically homeschooling while being on the road (travelling/exploring/roaming).
What’s the difference you may ask? Well here is our odd life as Road Schoolers!
Permanence vs constant change
Most homeschoolers (as the name suggests) are schooled from their homes. Usually there is one homeschool parent at home who is the teacher. They may form groups where they co-teach with other homeschool parents or organise trips/enrichment/playdates. There is some form of permanence in the arrangement and location.
Road schoolers on the other hand are travelling and moving from destination to destination. They are usually homeschooled exclusively by their parent/s while they travel. They meet new people and have new classrooms according to their travel plans.
Road schoolers have to be lean in the physical items they use for school. They cannot afford to bring an entire physical library with them. This does not mean that they have limited access to materials. It means that they tend to go digital. Homeschoolers have the luxury of more storage space.
We carry only...
-A stack of writing paper,
We can't have the luxury of visiting a physical library overseas but we can access Singapore’s National Library’s collection on the Libby app. We can borrow and return books at any time as long as there’s an internet connection. They also use Khan academy (website and apps) often as a supplement.
Reading about it vs being there to experience it
Quite often, we are content to show children the maps and talk about landscapes, animals and history through the text books. We acknowledge that we don’t always have the time and resources to let them go where the lesson is and experience it.
We realised that road-schooling is a very experiential form of learning. We walked among the tea plants and climbed the steep slopes where rice terraces were situated. They didn’t just get to see and feel the tea leaves, they felt the burn in their legs (and on their skin) and realised how tough farming was.
Visual and auditory learners may be contented with watching a video at their desks but that would be a nightmare for others. Road schooling is a kinaesthetic learner’s dream. You’ll get to walk around in search of clues, look at exhibits and feel them (if permitted).
Road schooling kids get more freedom to choose what they will take away from a lesson. Be it a mall or museum, they are learning!
We recently visited this amazing little store in Mytown shopping mall that sells and showcases products that the older generation used to consume. It is like a time tunnel we took to travel back to the past when the idea of play and delicious treats were different.
We also had an amazing time of learning and reflection at the National Museum of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. We got to physically walk through a journey of how human civilisation came to be in this region. The different exhibitions led us through the lives of the early inhabitants all through colonial rule, Japanese occupation, communist insurgency and independence. Matthias also realised how much of history was treachery.
Matthias saw how much culture and History Singapore and Malaysia shared.
Did you know the region used to be one piece of land 18000 years ago? The low sea levels meant that we were mostly joined by land which allowed the floral and fauna to travel/spread throughout the region. It's great to learn something new!
Road schooling allows for more incidental learning (any learning that is unplanned or unintended). When we travel places, we learn bits and pieces of language, human behaviour and the different ways people conduct themselves. Apart from their fixed syllabus, exploring while travelling allows them to learn beyond purely academic knowledge. I’m not saying incidental learning doesn’t happen in a homeschooling environment or traditional classroom, it does. We just get a lot more of it learning while we explore and travel.
We’ve been catching quite a few rides on the KL Rapid transit.
Gwyneth has learnt to express her frustrations or boredom better. She enjoys describing what she sees, reading signs and advertising boards. She asks a tonne of questions from “what is makeup for?”, “papa, is this your big tummy?” “What does this sign mean?”
She has also learnt to cope better with crowded places and persevere when we have to walk more.
E.g. Matthias and I would go on Wikipedia to read about the top speed of trains, the rolling stock manufacturers and information about the KL Rapid Transit system. We also learnt of an AMAZING invention in KL called the BRT. An entire network of elevated roads that are solely for the use of buses to the ply the route like a train. These buses are FULLY ELECTRIC.
Although we are happy of the positive impact of the network on traffic jams and emissions, we also learnt that Malaysia generates more than 60% of its energy using COAL and more than 30% using natural gas. Singapore also generates 95% of our energy using natural gas. All of which are finite fossil fuels that contribute to global warming and pollution. This is despite both countries being situated near the equator where sunlight is aplenty. These aren’t things you plan to teach an 8 year old but one thing leads to another and it makes learning fun/relevant.
Schedule changes, flight delays, accommodation change, climate changes, changing road conditions, different cuisines and the ever-changing circumstance of a travelling life builds resilience.
It is unlikely that one is able to road school without being minimalists. And that in itself teaches a child that they don’t need a lot. We have been living out of two cabin sized suitcases and our small individual backpacks for close to 20 weeks. It is perfectly fine being content with what we have.
Road schooling just provides a rich environment for resilience to be formed.
Not just the kids who learn
This journey of road schooling isn’t just for the kids. Debra and I have learnt so much in this whole adventure. In fact we’ve learnt to be the solution to our problems. It has been quite a journey trying to get Matthias and Gwyneth sufficient exposure to the Tamil language. Tamil books for young children are really hard to come by even if you have full access to the National Libraries. You will find entire levels of English books, probably half a level of Mandarin books, a whole section of Malay books and ONE SHELF of kids Tamil books. The shelf isn’t even usually full.
Debra was initially perplexed and frustrated with this issue. However with much encouragement, she pursued her dream of many years to publish a bilingual book series in Tamil and English for our children.
These books were written with an inclusion of the local context and in future to include scenes inspired by our travels. If possible, we would love to create bilingual versions with English and Mandarin/Malay but we will need help for that.
I’ve experienced a similar journey myself finding materials and stories that may help us in grieving and remembering my dad. The only way I am going to find a book that is specific to our life experience and journey is to write one myself. So I’ve put my English Literature degree to good use and wrote a book of my own in remembrance of my dad.
We hope to have your support when they are officially launched soon!
Road schooling has been quite a journey for us. What are you thoughts? Share them with us in the comments, anonymous message link (on Instagram) or simply click the red button and have a chat with us!
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.
Drop us an email at email@example.com