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How To Homeschool While Travelling Or Living Abroad: Beginners Guide

By Annie André

(Boring Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use them to buy something, I may earn a small commission (which helps me buy more croissants) at no additional cost to you. Merci for your support)


One of the problems, when people travel long term or live abroad, is how to educate and keep your kids on track with the rest of their schoolmates back in your home country. We chose to mainstream our kids in public French school while in France. But what if you don’t want to be tied to a school schedule and travel to more than one country in any given year?  What if you want to do an around the world trip with your kids? Simple, you can always homeschool while travelling.
First day of class in a new preschool in France
The beginning of our secind year in France. The first day of Grande section in an école maternelle.

Today’s article is a guest post written by Susie Brown. Her article is a great introduction into the world of homeschooling while travelling or living abroad with kids. It’s hard but not as hard as people think. As Susie puts it, “if she can do it, anyone can”. Take it away Susie.


Why I homeschooled the kids

When my oldest son was having trouble keeping up in school we considered all of our options. And after checking into everything that the school system had to offer us, we weren’t very impressed. It seemed that our son was doomed to fall through the cracks of the education system and there was nothing we could do about it. We decided to try homeschooling, mostly because we figured that it couldn’t be any worse than the other options.

After a few weeks of homeschooling our sons face began to shine again, he was a much happier boy, and we witnessed how his mind was able to develop in ways that it didn’t while he was in school. It turns out that the school atmosphere just wasn’t right for him. Eventually, our other kids wanted to try homeschooling too, and that was the beginning of our homeschooling family adventure.

As it turned out, one of the greatest perks of homeschooling is being on a different schedule as everybody else. When the zoos, museums, and other fun outing destinations are flooded with people on weekends and holidays we avoid going, because we can go on school days in order to avoid the lines and the crowds. And when we moved we didn’t need to look for new schools, nor did we need to worry about our children’s curriculum changing.

For anyone who is considering relocating for a limited time, homeschooling might be a great option. But if you plan to send your kids back to the same school system, you will obviously need to keep them up to speed. Thankfully, many homeschooling families find that their children are able to learn the material a lot faster than their in-school peers.

Staying on track with the curriculum back at home

The first step towards staying on track with the school is by asking the school. Go to the school where your child would otherwise be attending and explain to them your travel plans and your plans to return. That is show them that you consider them too as important educators in the life of your child, which is a very engaging and gratifying feeling for teachers. After explaining your travel plans, ask them for a general idea of the curriculum.

The teachers should be able to give you a general answer. Although, teachers do improvise and readjust their lesson plans throughout the course of the school year, they are required to cover certain material. Once you find out what that required material is, you can make your own lesson plan of how to learn it.

By the way, planning your own curriculum might seem like a daunting undertaking, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. I have no formal training in being an educator, and if I could do it, so can you.

Another benefit of being in contact with your child’s school is that the school might be able to give you their own suggestions for what and how to study with your children.

I know of a mother who when she told her child’s school of their plans to relocate to Argentina, the school was smart enough to take advantage of the situation. Her child’s grade learned about Argentina’s history and culture, and the mother and school coordinated their curriculums together. When the school learned about the native Argentinean tribes they would go visit the ruins video camera in hand. The school benefited by showing the videos to students, and the family benefited by remaining in sync with the school’s curriculum.

3 Simple Ways To Teach While Travelling or Living Abroad

How parents go about assuring that their kids are getting the best education possible during the homeschooling process is a matter or trial and error since so much of learning is child specific.

1- Online learning aids are fun and give immediate feedback

I am a big fan of using online learning sites in order to teach important concepts. Online learning sites are often designed in the same way as video games. Similar to the way a child needs to figure out certain things in order to win a video game she will likewise need to figure out how to “win” the online learning games. In the course of playing and winning those games they learn fundamental concepts.

Whereas if a student doesn’t understand a concept when they take a test or do homework, which is bad news for their grade and their self-image, with online learning sites they can just try again. Most kids love trying again, just like they like playing video games over again.

To get an idea of what I am talking about go to www.ixl.com, a math learning website, where you can try out their features for free. Ideally I don’t recommend using online learning sites as the main component for teaching, but rather as an assistant to your regular learning schedule.

2- One-on-one learning

My favorite thing about homeschooling is the fact that my kids are completely engaged in their learning. Since there is someone constantly there to help them in their learning (usually that’s me), they never slip into passivity.

Take advantage of learning opportunities

The learning that can be accomplished through being exposed to a new culture is immeasurable. Here are a few ideas for how to do that

  • Learn about the history of your host culture and then go and visit the sites which you learned about.
  • Go to museums more than once
  • Learn the language
  • Learn skills that are culture-specific like learning Chinese calligraphy in China, or learning how to cook French cuisine in France.

3- Join a local community of homeschoolers

Homeschooling exists in most places in the world, and homeschooling families usually make plans to meet up together on a regular basis. Inquire about these homeschool community activities and you may find a community that is happy to accept you with open arms. Homeschoolers, as a general rule, are some of the nicest and most accepting people that you will ever meet. These mini-communities are a great way to make friends and they can be a valuable source of information and networking.

WARNING:  What to be Careful About

When we first started researching the possibility of homeschooling we decided to go right to the experts- the products of homeschooled education. I spoke to a few young adults who had graduated from homeschool high school, and whom I consider to be very successful. I asked them if they had any advice about homeschooling. Their unified response. “Don’t let homeschooling become no-schooling.” Although homeschooling does allow you to be much more flexible in your activities, it is still important to pursue goals and stick to some type of schedule.


Author Bio: Susie Brown is a FastUpFront Blog contributor and business author.

  1. You are so right. there is no excuse to not travel long term. Between the internet and the availability of online courses and offline books the kids educational needs can always be met.

  2. Great topic and advice! We’ve been traveling the world as a family non-stop for the last 6 years ( 44 countries on 5 continents so far on just $23/day per person). I think it is the best education for tomorrows 21st century student!

    We are eclectic homeschoolers or worldschoolers who dip into local foreign schools some for language immersion. We are monolinguals raising a fluent-as-a-native trilingual/triliterate ( Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and English).

    It has been an absolutely amazing educational experience for our child and she is years ahead of age peers. She was 5 when we started and is now 11 1/2 and last year she skipped 3 grades ( from 4th in Spain to 7th in an Asian Mandarin high school) and is thriving in every way.

    We also do piano and violin lessons from teachers on other continents via Skype as we roam and fun things online like Johns Hopkins University CTY classes.

    The experiences of travel teaches one soooo much too..from hiking the Tiger’s nest in Bhutan to swimming with sharks in Bora Bora, taking a cargo ship to Sweden, to biking Bordeaux, working with archaeologist in Turkey and Greece or riding a camel in Petra at 10 and the Sahara overnight at 6 in Morocco …and on and on.

    Our primary reason for our travel is to educate her and have more time together as a family and it has been better than we ever imagined!

  3. Annie and Susie, this is an extremely useful post for people who have children and might be limiting their beliefs about whether they can travel right now or have to wait until everyone has graduated. In our generation, homeschooling was not really an option, but today it seems to be more and more in vogue.

    You’re doing a great thing for would-be traveling families by shedding light on this.

    Bravo!

    1. So True Marvin,
      I think a lot of people do have limiting beliefs and don’t even consider homeschooling as an option.

      I’m so glad you think this is a big help to would be travelling families.. It’s my mission…. to help as many as i can.

  4. What a great story and tips about homeschooling. When you do it right, homeschooling can be pretty effective.

    I think home schooling is a great option for parents who want to travel long term. In many cases, parents might be reluctant to take their kids out of school for a long period of time, but it can be done.

    There are many online resources to use that will help home school kids. And making lesson plans shouldn’t be too difficult especially if you’re following a curriculum similar to what a school is doing.

    1. Steve,
      You are so right. there is no excuse to not travel long term. Between the internet and the availability of online courses and offline books the kids educational needs can always be met.

  5. when i was still with the bank I was going to home school my kids too. but then again a bit early as i dont have kids yet. but never too late to think about it :p
    Noch Noch

    1. NOch NOch, you are so smart to think of these things in advance. In the least it gives you and your partner something to align yourselves with for the future. Better to deal with difference now and plan for them a little rather than find out later that your partner absolutely hates the idea.

      One thing to keep in mind is that NOT all kids thrive at homeschooling. My middle child does thrive but my older one does not. And when kids are younger it’s easier to homeschool.

      Thanks for stopping by. i really enjoy what you bring to the conversation when you stop by.

  6. Beautiful insights!

    What I’ve been curious about is how to make or create the most effective roadmap for key learning objectives, as well as how to assess/evaluate the most effectively.

    I do think that not all maps are created equal.

    1. J.D.
      Everyones map is different. That’s the key. Don’t try to force yourself to be or do a certain way. You have to be willing to try but also willing to change.

  7. Question? Are you teaching your kids English and French?

    I think it’s great what you are doing. My sister home schools one of my nieces because she was getting bullied at school. Her attitude has done a 180 and she seems to be so much happier. It’s all about what the best interest for the child is.

    I may have to look into this option if I plan on having a family with David. He has wandering feet and I can’t imagine we will be in one place for very long. :)

    1. I’m up for anything really, though I’m sure once I have little ones I will develop more guided ideas for the education. But one thing I’m interested in is unschooling… Now there is a fascinating debate and concept!

      1. I did a lot of research for unschooling and it’s one of the things that i am trying to do and still am. Being here in France is helping undoe many of the things that kids are getting drilled into their heads back in the u.s. It’s a touchy subject for a lot of people. It’s only natural since many people want to defend the way that they raise and educate the kids. But i’m not judgmental and neither or you and i think we would both agree, “to each his/her own” n’est ce pas?

    2. Hi Meg,
      My youngest daughter who is now four years old, her first language is probably considered French. I have spoken ONLY french with her since birth. However she gets a good dose of english from her dad and her brothers. Now here in France, she goes to a French preschool with all the other french kids. My two older boys now teenagers both go to public french school. They take an English class because they are following the french curriculum which requires them to take english but they really only help the and act as teacher
      s aid.

      When and if we return to the U.s. The kids will most likely not be behind at all other than in english literature. Think of all the other foreign students who move to the us but still graduate. it will be like that for them.

      i tried to homeschool the kids but it was not for me. Like you said. it’s what’s in the best interest of the kids and my kids wanted to go to school.

      As far as you and David, i think if you start the kids out homeschooled from the beginning, it will be much easier than starting them out as teenagers like i did. My kids got like school and the interaction. I think between the two of you, you two will do a smashing job of educating your kids and travelling. What a fantastic life you will have.

  8. Thanks for the nice comment Adrienne. Something that I had to adjust to when we began homeschooling is the assumption that the way everyone else does things is the “right” way.
    What I discovered is that after looking for “a way around it” I found a lot of great stuff that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

  9. Hi Susie,

    Welcome to Annie’s home, we are pleased to have you.

    As Annie knows me quite well now so unfortunately, I can’t really relate to this subject much because I don’t have any children. But I do know a few people that currently home school their children and I take my hats off to them. School was a nightmare for me. I didn’t learn the way other kids did so I was a bit slow.

    I do know that the tools they have today to help the kids learn would have been fabulous back when I was a kid. So I would think if the families want to travel abroad or move abroad these are great options should they chose to go that route.

    As Annie says quite often, don’t let this type of stuff hold you back from doing what you want. There is always a way around it.

    Thank you for sharing this with us because I KNOW there will be a lot of people who can relate to what you’re sharing.

    Hope you ladies are having a fabulous week.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Adrienne,
      thanks for your input. i like the point you bring up about the tools available today making it possible to and easier to homeschool. I think homeschooling is a true commitment and takes a lot of patience but can be fun if you do it properly. otherwise, it can be so frustrating. I’m speaking from experience..:)

  10. Hi Susie,

    You did a stellar job talking about Home Schooling. I am a big Fan of Home Schooling.

    We had both of our daughter in private school and loved it there till 5th grade. Our oldest girl had 18 hours of home work a week and had a difficult time keeping up. Not in her ability to learn because in all of the testing she came out borderline brilliant.

    We have now been Home Schooling 5-6 years and it has been a great experience. Our girls wouldn’t have it any other way.

    It may not work for every one, but it sure has for us. Thanks for the great post and keep them coming.

    My Best,
    Stephen

    1. Stephen,
      homeschooling over five years? Wow, fantastic. Do people constantly ask you how you socialize the kids? I have a friend who was homeschooled her whole life. She graduated from high school early and graduated from university at 18 years old. I think some people just thrive when homeschooled.

      1. Hi Annie,

        That is the big question people ask all the time, how you socialize the kids?! That is a question that we have thought about and it leads us to another question, …… “is being in what we now call traditional school is a normal way to socialize kids?”

        What we have discovered along the way is that with our girls they associate with a broader age range than they did while in “traditional school”. People that are not involved in Home Schooling comment about how well that they converse with adults as well as children much younger than they are.

        Home schooling needs to work for both the kids and the parents because it is does take time and energy. However once we got it rolling the girls are responsible for their learning and we provide the frame work and curriculum that works best for them.

        Wow your friend had a real head start on life. She sure learned how to focus didn’t she? ~Stephen

      2. Hello Stephen
        You bring up some good points. What is a normal way to socialize kids. I have a 15 year old who was horrible to homeschool. he hated it. But my younger son who was 13 when we tried actually thrived. Homeschooling defenitely has to work for both parents and it takes some fidgeting and adjusting to get it just right. Right now, being abroad and putting the kids in public school is working out great because they are immersed in school but i would take them out in a heart beat if they were not thriving in school and home school them.

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