Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Poster: Deidre and her Traveling Family

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Guest Poster:  Deirdra

Please meet my friend Deirdra and her family.  They are homeschoolers here in Australia with a unique and intriguing lifestyle of living in an RV and traveling all over the country with their children. Deirdre and her husband Mark and three of their four children have a burning desire to see Australia and beyond!  You can now find them living in their caravan and traveling indefinitely... 

Deirdre and Mark and their gorgeous family

We began selling our belongings last August. It was painful to begin with but as we got going we couldn’t wait for the next garage sale. As the house emptied out, we bought our camping chairs and a few other bits and pieces and “practiced” living with the basics only. In the last couple of weeks we got down to air mattresses, a chair, bowl, plate, cup and not much else each! We left Mackay for Ireland in November and spent Christmas there with my folks. They didn’t understand why we wanted to live in a caravan when we got back to Australia and got one heck of a shock when they saw the plans of it. They thought it would be much bigger- we thought it was huge! 

January 14th came around soon enough and we were back in Brisbane moving into our new caravan. We could hardly contain our excitement, after a couple of years in the planning, the dream had come true and we were now living it. Our eldest daughter, who is at university in Brisbane soon brought us down to earth. She was quite shocked when she saw inside the van and couldn’t imagine how five of us were going to fit in it - it’s smaller than her flat! Well, it’s been eight months now and we’re still finding it comfortable. We don’t see it as confined space living, quite the opposite, we have the whole of Australia to live in!

Cushla on the island of Vanuatu
We had already been home schooling for over a year. As we were going to travel and not have a consistent home school group anymore I decided to enroll in a distance education school for support. In late January we spent an afternoon with our new head master. By the end of the meeting we were all very happy with the curriculum that had been decided upon and so we went on our merry way to begin our journey. Our distance ed school has a few teachers throughout Queensland and they run a couple of workshops each term. The head master turns up at most of them and he has gotten used to us popping up in different areas too! 

I think we have the best of both worlds. I can educate my kids in a way that suits our lifestyle, I have teacher support via Skype if I need it, a teacher to do the reporting for me and the kids get to go on school camps. One of the teachers has been a volunteer at Mon Repos during the turtle nesting season for many years. At the end of summer we will be heading south again to the family camp there. We can hardly wait to see the thrills and spills of the turtle hatchlings scurrying across the beach to the ocean.

Mark works as we travel, running a small business showing people how they can prepare for a better retirement. This works out well for us in that we stay in a new area for around six weeks. While he is seeing clients we are doing school work. Often we are able to find a local home school group to join in with their weekly meet ups and make plenty of new friends along the way. When he’s not working, well - that’s time for what we love to do the most, exploring new areas! Clearly we don’t have a daily routine! I check out Marks diary and see what appointments he has and work out when and what school work can be done. The kids might start at 6am some days, not often though. Other days they will do their full days school work and ask for tomorrow's and get half of that done too into the evening. They will manage their own time depending on how many other kids there are around to play with or what touring we can fit in. I do have one routine though. As soon as we have parked the caravan in a new town we go to the tourist information centre and have a good chat there. You can learn a fair bit from the internet but nothing beats talking to a local. The second stop is always the library and we come home loaded with books.

We have no fixed plans and have learned to be very flexible! Because Mark is working as we go we expect to take around 4 years to get the whole way around Australia. He won’t be working at every stop, only in the larger towns. We are thinking of leaving Queensland after the Mon Repos Turtle camp but where are we heading? No idea – yet! A lot will depend on my daughter  Cushla’s education. She will be in year 11 next year and would like to do a diploma in reflexology. Unfortunately this can no longer be done online. So, we are looking into various natural therapy colleges, preferably ones with lots of campuses as we don’t want to spend a whole year in one place! 

We are getting there. There are some that will allow her to do a term in each state plus a few units online so this would suit our travel plans nicely. All of the colleges we have spoken to so far would be happy to have her as a student even though she is below school-leaving age. As soon as they hear we are homeschoolers and are traveling they recognize that she would very likely have the maturity to complete the course. TAFE on the other hand is a different matter, less flexible, plus the new government is overhauling the rules at TAFE so until that is done we wait to see where we will travel to after Queensland. It’s an adventure... 

Now, off to Capricorn Caves!


If you are interested in reading more about Deirdre's adventures
and those of her family,
please follow her at her blog site

for generously sharing your family with us!
We miss you in Brisbane!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  Funky Family Homeschooling 
Or you may enjoy reading:  Hope Floats 
Or try this one:  Guest Post:  Get Them to Read

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