As you all have learned by now, we are an avid homeschooling family who has taken to the open globe for a worldschooling experience. Most of the worldschooling families that you come across practice a form of schooling known as unschooling. They require almost nothing as far as supplies and books are concerned. We unschool a few subjects and many experiences, but we are primarily a homeschooling — well, schooling on the road — family with a curriculum and a small need for school supplies.
When I began a packing list for this year-long trip, I obviously couldn’t bring everything that we used regularly. We only had four of our thematic books left for the year from our curriculum resource, 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 Your 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
- A 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 tales collection (very heavy items)
- The Usborne paper plane book
- An Usborne sticker book per child
- The Usborne Starting to Read Pack
- Little wooden spelling rods
- A 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. Some of it was completely over the weight allowance. On to 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 $100 to ship almost 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 school supplies would be easy to find in Greece. But English books would be a real challenge to find. By the time we arrived in Greece in mid-April, we only had one remaining thematic book. Add to that the realization that the books from home would not be shipped, and we began the hunt for new material. 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 to make the most of the outrageous shipping charge. 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. 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 another friend from the states.
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 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 opinion, that is what worldschooling 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.
Photo Credits: Lydia Bradbury