One of the questions you'll most commonly be asked when travelling as a family is: "But what about school?" Followed almost inevitably by: "Well, they'll learn a lot more travelling than they would sitting in a classroom."
So, what about school? If you're travelling for an extended period, the best solution will probably be to register your children as home schooled. Contact your local education authority, explain what you're planning to do and they'll explain the procedural details.
For us in the UK, it was simply a matter of writing to the girls' school and copying the letter to the local council. Following a (non-compulsory) visit from an educational consultant, our children were officially registered as home-schooled.
At first, we were surprised by the scarcity of educational resources that were immediately available to us, but soon learned that there are plenty of options for those taking the increasingly popular option of "world schooling" their children.
If you decide the stay in one place for a long time, you may want to consider enrolling your children in a local school. However, home-schooling (or world-schooling) remains the best option for most travelling families.
We took a fairly relaxed approach, and only really tried to establish an educational routine when we were settled in once place for a few weeks or more. At these times, we would pull out the curriculum/syllabus and conduct proper 'classes' for our girls. The rest of the time, we mostly just gave them ad hoc lessons. For example the chance discovery of a piece of coal on the tracks beside a station on the Trans-Siberian Railway was a cue for a quick geology lesson.
Much of school involves learning about culture, history, geography, language and a myriad of other subjects that we naturally covered as we travelled, the topics depending on where we are located. So, for example, at school, they might have learnt about the Romans; we visited Pompeii.
We bought Kindles for the children as obtaining age-appropriate children's books in English is difficult once you leave English-speaking countries. There was also the weight issue to consider - the ability to carry a whole library of books in one electronic device was a real boon.
The other subject not so readily covered in everyday travelling is maths. While we did our best, getting the girls to carry out currency conversions, calculate restaurant bills and look after the scoring when we played cards, we also took along curriculum-based maths workbooks, getting them to do a few pages during long train journeys and the like.
1. Download the curriculum for your child's year.
This will give you a very good idea of the scope of work that should be covered while you're away.
2. Join Khan Academy or another online education site.
We took the view that maths was the one subject that we didn't want our children to fall behind in. Khan Academy is a free on-line educational resource that covers the US mathematics curriculum (as well as history and a number of other subjects) .
We love it. Parents can set their children up with their own accounts and then act as their coach, setting them a mission to complete a maths grade. They can listen to lessons on each topic area and then complete questions on each topic until they've mastered it. They can also choose their own avatar and are awarded energy points and badges along the way.
We highly recommend it!
3. Read with your child
We bought Kindles for our children and loaded them up with the recommended texts for their school year, along with some old favourites and other 'fun' books. They were perfect for bedtimes and long train/bus/boat rides.
And if friends and family want to buy you something for the trip but are aware that you won't welcome something else to carry, an Amazon voucher is always a winner!
Also, don't forget that it's important that children spend some time reading out loud to you, no matter what their age.
There are numerous opportunities to learn along the way:
Read up on the historical background to cities or sites that you plan to visit and provide a commentary when you're there;
Learn - and use - some of the local language;
Let the children calculate the cost of buying dinner, or fruit at the market. Or you could let them carry out the inevitable currency conversions;
Get them to explain the cultural or geographical differences between where they are now and where they were previously.
The list is endless and there's plenty of scope for some fun!
Online schools and Apps (not necessarily tried and tested by us)
Khan Academy (free)
Splash Maths (free/paid) We used the free iPhone app but it you can also subscribe to a larger web-based program
Dreambox Maths (paid)
Study Ladder (paid)
Reading Eggs (paid) Reading, phonics, comprehension
Schools and home-schooling groups
There are often opportunities to join home-schooling groups in areas where there is a concentration of home-schooling families. Popular areas include Mexico, Spain, Thailand (Chang Mai) and Bali (Ubud).