When my first child, Edie, was born I wanted to homeschool her but I didn't know anyone who homeschooled at that time, the internet was a little less advanced than it is now and I didn't know where to go for information and support. I knew that I disagreed with a lot of the experience and treatment in institutionalized education but I was really not sure what to do. My personal experiences in school were not good and I frequently made myself ill just to get sent to the nurse's office so they would call my mom to pick me up. As an adult I worked with a local Quaker Friends School before I had children and really like what they were doing and if my kids were going to go to school maybe they should go there. Fast forward to having a child and that ended up being cost prohibitive for us and so we ended up moving to a really good school district and hoped our daughter got the best education possible.
Edie started at a preschool at a local church that we just loved, the teachers were great and we could volunteer there and see what was going on and we were happy. I just got accustomed to the idea that kids went to school even though it felt a little weird when she was gone and even weirder when she was gone all day by the time first grade came around. Don't get me wrong, doing the grocery shopping and other errands by myself was glorious but I just felt like I was missing an arm most of the time. We had another child, my son Jackson, and he also went to the same preschool and then started in the same school Edie had. Things became routine and we woke up for school and the day revolved around it and so did our life. It didn't feel right to me, and it slowed down our desire to travel because if also felt wrong to me to take the kids out of school for any “unnecessary” reason. I didn't want them to miss out or get behind even if the potential travel experience could give them more than sitting at a desk could.
All of this gets down to we bought a bus and planned the conversion and planned how our lives were going to look once we were on the road. There were a few things that were a concern, at first it was the kids and their education. Eleven years after my first child was born I knew a lot more people and some of them homeschooled, I also had a wider online community due to being a birth worker and some of that was comprised of people into all different types of parenting and education choices. I had the knowledge and the resources to not be afraid and the more I read the more I felt empowered I felt that this was something my family could and should do. I am still working on a larger support system and through an unschooling podcast I heard I recently found out about a few online groups I am looking forward to joining but I do not feel alone like I did over 11 years ago.
As a traveling family we are out and about with our kids all the time, very frequently people ask the kids, no school today? I smile and know that they are not in a building labeled school but are learning more than some children who are. I feel like I am doing something in line with my values and even though it is not always easy I have a feeling it will always be worth it. The time that we are spending together, learning together, the stronger bonds we are forming is amazing.
Our bus, Paulie, went to the mechanic to get an oil change and new tires and some other stuff that he needed before we set sail. They needed to keep him longer than we would have liked so we needed to change plans and go hang at Nick's mom's for a couple of days because our friends were coming home from vacay and we wanted them to have their house back. Our original plan was to leave our friends' place and go to my sister's in Milmay, NJ to visit with her and my brother in law and get some finishing touches done on Paulie. Changing our plans meant less time at their house and less time to finish stuff up, we felt really rushed even though we decided to stay an extra day in New Jersey.