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'Our motor home doubles as our classroom'

Travelling the world: the Evans family
When Max and Katie Evans decided to go travelling, they also embarked on home educating their children. They explain what it's like to travel and teach at the same time.

When Max and Katie Evans left their busy life in London to go travelling, it meant committing to home educate their sons William, five, and Albie, three. Katie explains what it's like to combine home education with travelling the world.  

'The beauty of home educating is that there's no such thing as a typical day. Yesterday we visited the fabulous museum in Victoria, Vancouver Island, and had a wonderful tour of their mammoth exhibition, followed by an afternoon at the bug zoo, quizzing the guides about tarantulas and ant colonies. We didn't do any typical school activities.

'Today, while driving up the east coast of the island, Albie learnt the letter 'r' and then drew some fantasy monsters whose names began with that letter. William learnt more about apostrophes, and we introduced 3D shapes – resulting in a messy search for cylinders and cuboids in the cupboard of the camper van!

'There's no such thing as a typical day'

'I didn't decide to home educate because of any strong ideological beliefs. I feel that on the whole, the school system has a great deal to offer, despite its flaws. My decision to home educate was circumstantial. We moved to the Cook Islands in the South Pacific in February, and when we decided to continue travelling, home educating became an inevitable part of that decision. We're now travelling around the US and Canada in a motor home which doubles as our school  although much of our schooling is done out in the field.

'It's a big job and a big responsibility'

'I'm lucky that my eldest is a very enthusiastic reader, often reading for hours a day, which makes the whole process of home education easier and more enjoyable. I'm a firm believer that if kids love reading and do it often enough, they'll do okay, at this age at least.

'That's not to say that I'm not looking forward to getting back to school at some point. Home educating is a big job and a big responsibility. It has to be the right thing for the parent and the particular child. It comes with huge benefits in terms of being able to learn at the pace of the child and tailor the learning to their interests, but there are obvious challenges too.

'The biggest positive is being able to fit the work to the child. William is very strong in English and less so in maths, so we can alter the level to suit him or spend more time on the things he struggles with. We tailor his learning to things he is interested in, whether that's reading books about LEGO Ninjago, writing activities on Star Wars or reading comprehension on pirates.

'We're also free to learn in different settings. One day we'll be doing forest school with a ranger in a national park; the next, we might be spending a rainy day reading in a library.

'It's a short-term sacrifice for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure'

'The cons are that the boys are missing their friends and the social interaction. I understand that many home educating families have co-operatives and group activities so their kids can socialise, but we're on the road so we don't have that option. William and Albie made friends with a group of siblings when we were camping in Lake Tahoe, and seeing them play together so sweetly made me look forward to reuniting them with their buddies. But that's a bearable short-term sacrifice compared with the experience of being together on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

'Home educating children of different ages isn’t really a problem for us, but my youngest is only three so my educational aims for him involve being as hands-on, muddy, messy and explorative as possible. I only really ever "school" him in a traditional way if I sense he feels left out. My husband and I take turns schooling William – me in English, him in maths – so the other person can be outside exploring or inside reading or playing with Albie. To be honest, the biggest balancing act is making sure the boys feel they are having equal amounts of attention, whatever form that attention comes in.'

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