A few days after we arrived in Costa Rica, we started the second quarter of school for kids, CM2 for Jade (elementary school) and 6th grade for Ulysses (middle school).
It’s not always easy for the kids to concentrate with the ocean nearby and monkeys swinging in the garden… but this way of teaching on the road has some advantages!
Indeed, the good side of this taylor-made eduction is that we can adapt to the level of each child, going faster on things easy for them, taking more time where needed, and letting them discover new things that the National Education Program would not provide, such as Computer Science and real-world Nature discovery (Natural Sciences).
Starting the second quarter, for Jade, we have already completed the full year of Mathematics, half of the French lessons… For Ulysses, 70% of Maths are completed, but only one-third of the French lessons (so barely in time with the official program)…
For English, we did put Jade and Ulysses together in the same 6th grade class where we have already completed more than half of the program with much more spoken language practice, with the aim to complete 6th and 5th grade during this year and bring them to some spoken fluency through real world practice (after Costa Rica, we’ll be in English speaking countries mostly)!
Overall, the CNED program (Centre National de l’Education à Distance = French Remote Schooling National Program) is fairly well made content wise, but some of the content is very “academic” and far from child’s preoccupation or real-world situations. Learning english by learning Middle-ages vocabulary (moat, …) that they will never use in life, or learning some of the french language concepts through distant Greek mythology is seriously outdated. Also, the Internet tools the CNED is providing are dysfunctional and almost a copy of the “linear” content provided in books without taking real advantage of the interactive capabilities provided by the medium. No wonder that education levels are decreasing in France and elsewhere in this Digital age that needs education to be reinvented.
We are also starting Sciences with a focus on “Sustainability & Preservation” with concrete applications they will need to reflect on, such as reducing our Carbon footprint during / after this trip. In Computer Sciences, after going through the basics of managing data in the cloud, we are starting more serious stuff like programming simple things before getting into HTML and website programming.
We also try to condense the school time to one intense full week every three weeks to let them enjoy and discover the many activities that each country offers, with a specific sports challenge in each region we cross: Kiteboarding in Brazil, Snorkeling & Sailing in the Caribbean, Surfing in Costa Rica, Paragliding in New-Zealand, Scuba-diving in Australia, and serious Hiking in India! Poor kids, are they are entitled with one “joker” only to discard the activity they like the least;-)
The most difficult thing so far has been to respect the well defined school schedule, as the first day is always painful, teachers and students having to adapt to the always new classroom, and kids having to cope with the schooling intensity!
On top of this, we keep some English lessons and outdoor sports / adventures all other weeks as we believe this is what kids can learn most during this journey.
We as parents are slowly progressing as teachers (at least doing our best with this new “job”), trying to make our kids’ education as rigorous, taylor-made, interactive, Digital and fun as possible while learning ourselves in the process (patience in the first place)!