Work Books Work a Treat
by Lisa Marsden
(Croydon, VIC, Aus)
Our girls' teachers and principal thought a 6 month trip around Australia was an amazing opportunity and suggested we keep it real and enjoyable. The teachers gave us tips of things we could do on the trip but we found it too stressful and time consuming to come up with our own lesson plans. We are both intelligent people but I think the girls' teachers over-estimated our abilities when it came to teaching our own kids. We are parents, not teachers.
After a few terribly stressful and frustrating weeks we purchased some maths workbooks and a spelling book for our 7 year old, not an easy feat in Alice Springs where there is only one bookstore! We ended up buying the books at Target, they're by School Zone and are called "I Know It!" books. You can get them in maths, spelling, writing, reading. They're mainly for lower primary school kids though, maybe up to 10 years old.
Both of our girls have enjoyed the maths books, they have brightly coloured pictures and fun activities. We've watched our older daughter, who really hated maths, make great progress and she doesn't get as frustrated now. We know we're not covering everything that they'd be learning at school but at least we know we are teaching them important skills like time, fractions, money, subtraction, addition, multiplication and division. You can find these books at Target, Kmart, Big W, book stores.
We've also found some other great maths books: Stepping Stones (Core Mathematics). You can find these online. So far only our 7 year old is doing her book but it's going well and again, has nice bright colours and activities.
Our 9 year old's teacher warned us that not all kids enjoy keeping a diary and we found this to be true at the start of the trip, however after a few months our 9 year old started keeping one. Our 7 year old wanted photos so she could do a scrap book; this took time as we were in the middle of nowhere and couldn't get photos printed! But we finally did and she's done a great job, sticking in photos and stickers and doing a bit of writing.
For books we've found op shops and second hand book shops are a great and cheap way of buying books to read. Another option is getting books on ipads.
Of course we visit places like museums, aquariums and other interesting and educational places. I never worried that they wouldn't learn but I didn't want them to fall behind in literacy and numeracy. For writing, something both girls love to do is write stories and their teachers are happy with that. We wouldn't spend more than an hour on school work per day. Something we've done is to do school work every day, regardless of weekdays/weekends. Then, when we're in the car on long trips they can have a 'day off'. We've found that works for us. They didn't do school work for 2 weeks when we were getting from Darwin to QLD, we had too much driving to get through, which funnily enough, coincided with school holidays anyway.