My husband, two children (Tara age 12 and Tejas age four), and I are now settled in at a small Ayurvedic Ashram near Mangalore, South India, where we will spend three weeks receiving Ayurvedic treatments. Ayurveda is the Indian traditional medicine, said to be at least 3500 years old. Our treatments will focus on cleansing and rejuvenation.
In preparation for our five months on the road, knowing Tara would need to complete the second half of her seventh grade year, I searched around for online homeschool curricula that would best fit our needs. I knew there were many options from several years earlier when we homeschooled her in first grade. Back then, we chose the Waldorf-based Oak Meadow program, with both private and public school options. We had chosen the private school option because we were then no longer required to participate in the standardized testing necessary for public school children. It was a bit more expensive but well worth it because we also received a teacher/guide to help evaluate her work and give feedback along the way. It was a great option for a first time homeschool experience. I love knowing that I was the one who got to teach her to read and write.
Now that Tara is in 7th grade and has been in the public school system for a few years, I knew that the Waldorf-based curriculum would not be easy to drop back into given its unique approach. I also needed a program that was partially online (so we didn’t need to take as many materials with us) and also partially offline (because we weren’t sure how reliable internet access would be). After lots of searching, I landed on the K12.com program, which had the online/offline balance we needed and was more or less based on the public school curriculum—good for her 8th grade reentry. To save money, I enrolled Tara in the Independent Studies option so that I became her teacher and I could pace her work. I knew the travel itself would be educational and I didn’t want to be strapped down to a science lesson when what was really interesting was the culture we were steeping in here and now.
Even though the curriculum has the online component, we still had to pack up a lot of books, about 45 pounds! We are just in the first few days of our trip and beginning to implement her course work into our days, so I don’t have a clear sense of how it will go. The program offers very clear teacher instructions that go along with each lesson so I’m finding it easy to guide her. A part of me is concerned that she will fall behind or that it will be hard to stay disciplined. The program requires about one-hour per subject per day and she has five: English language skills, Literature, Pre-Algebra, History and French. We chose to save science until this summer when we return home because carrying around a microscope was too much to stomach. The beauty of the Independent Studies option is you can choose how to arrange your coursework. For example, you could just do a month of each subject or a combination that works for you. Perhaps focus on two or three subjects at a time.
Tejas being four, doesn’t require being enrolled in school. However, I did bring along some fun learning materials for him as well so that we could have school time together. He’s already proud of his connect the dots homework and I know that he’ll enjoy feeling that he is a part of our daily lessons.
So far the kids morale has been better than expected. They both seem to have inherited their parents’ love of adventure and travel.