Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Single Parenting. Travelling and educating your child on the road - So many teachers as you travel

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I was talking to Single Mum via Facebook today.
She has been reading my blog, and is planning to travel with her child.
We were discussing the ideas that do and don't work.
Things that as a single parent help, teach and aid - and things that don't.

Firstly, make no mistake.
Whether you haven't left home yet, or you are on the road.
As a single parent you can often be on the outer; or a minority.
BBQ's are filled with happy families.
Tours are mainly singles, couples, and friends in their late teens to early twenties.
Or retirees.
Rarely do we meet families, but occasionally we do.
To date, we have not met another single parent and child / children traveling.

Firstly, I would suggest staying in hostels.
We me a lovely couple of families that allowed the children to go out and explore the town with us,
 and learn with new friends.
Here we went to the Palace in Quito, Ecuador.

Pick your hostels carefully.
Party hostels, kids - drunks and drugs - do not mix.
Hotels can be lonely.
Try to pick a place with a common area, kitchen, eating area, lounge or game area etc.

I don't suggest dorms. 
I do not ever stay in a mixed dorm.
Men and women can act like rabbits in the night.
Also who knows if some guy might have a 'thing for little boys'.
No. Protect your child.
In fact, we have stayed in dorms, female only.
Often we have booked dorms because we know there are no other guests.
Fatima Hostel in Bogota were wonderful with this.
We had our own dorm for days.
When they got busy we moved to a private room.
We shared a room in Panama with a lovely lady, who taught my son about the solar system.

Again, another fabulous lady completely engaged with him.
We downloaded this app. and she spent hours making the solar system and stars come to life.

We found that many of the guys would play a game of pool / 8-ball with him.
This group of Israeli guys made him feel really special.
they lifted him on the table to reach balls he couldn't hit.
they "helped him to win".

Camping can work, but if you are a Mom, you need to exercise safety here.
Camping is great to mix with other families.

Ask when booking tours what their experience with children is.
We did a fab jungle tour.
But the other guests did NOT want a child about.
It was one of the loneliest times of our lives.
We were excluded at times.
One man was plainly rude to my son.
Thank goodness the Tour Guide, who my son got along well with.
He sat and instructed him on the boat.
He answered questions - 100's of them.
He took an interest in my son.
He was a great teacher.

On a positive note, we have done tours where my son become loved by many.
An example of this was at the Pantanal.
This Danish guy was amazing with my son.
He even later had him to his room opposite ours for a movie night using he computer.

Here an English guy helps my son with a caiman skull.
He pulled out a tooth and gave it to him to make a necklace.

Several of the guys engaged, joked and gave my son great attention.
Language was no barrier - this guy was Mexican.

When we went to Lake Titicaca I was impressed with several of the people.
This lovely girl went out of her way to teach my son football / soccer.
He actually was really good.
The local kids didn't want to play with him, but the group did.

Going to a church that speaks English is another great way to have your child involved.
Here a church in Quito presents my son with his birthday cake.

Staying in an area for a bit of time can also help make new friends.
In Fiji my son learnt to fish.
Firstly from some boys travelling the world on a yacht.
Then a wonderful Irish guy spent many an evening with him on the docks teaching him.
He also took him snorkeling, on his bike and kayaking.

Staying with people is often good too.
We stayed with friends in Wisconsin.
My son was taught to snow blow and shovel.
I am saying this as it gives me time out, and others on our trip become the "teachers".

When we were in Sydney at the start of the trip we also stayed with a life-long friend.
She is starting a cooking school.
She taught my son Japanese cooking.

We travelled a small part of our journey with 2 guys.
One from Belgium, and the other from New Zealand.
They spent time with my son, played with him, and gave me a break.
He learnt a bit of Chinese from one guy too.
When on a tour bus, he joked and played with him.

Teachers for World-schooling can be a surprise.
Here in Fiji we wanted to find a waterfall.
A local came with us to show us the way.
We would never have found it otherwise.
He was a Geologist.
He spent ages wandering around the rocks teaching my son about volcanic rock.
I couldn't keep up.
I was on the outer.
I wanted to learn to!

Another thing you can do is to find out what the local ex-pat kids do.
Here in SavuSavu Fiji they give free sailing lessons.
It was mealy an introduction, but it is all learning.
It comes in so many different forms.

One thing we do is raise funds and help the poor as we go along.
My son was very involved in learning about the Fiji way of life.
We collected some funds from others.
We used some of our own.
We spent hours preparing for a trip to a remote area.
Here my son is learning about giving and the needs of others.
He selected the clothes to fit kids.
This too is learning - in a different form.
If you are planning to travel, I suggest you pick something your child can focus on.
You may go rescue baby turtles, feed stray dogs - the list is endless.

Language is something your child will learn.
My son now often answers me in Spanish.
We will do a school soon.
But learning a few words a day TOGETHER is the best way.
We were also told by his German teacher from his school to stop the German.
We were instructed to learn the language together.
I don't recommend pushing language.
If you change countries to often it is confusing.
When in Brazil I had him pick an item each day.
He had to write it on paper (English and spelling)
Then we googled the translation in Spanish and Portuguese.
We then wrote both down.
He hid the papers and we had a game to find them.
We then stuck them up on the items like toilet, light, fan, chair etc.

Mathematics we do as the budget.
We have a simple app called Cash Vault.
Do get the full version.
We have a set budget.
He adds to it each day as we spend.
He learns categories.
He also learns how to budget.
Our daily, monthly and yearly totals.
He learns which countries are expensive, and which are not.
For South America he tells people it is A, B, C.
Argentina, Brazil and Chile as the 3 most expensive.
Currency, change and shopping and distance are also used.
We did fractions with Pizza.
We also used his Trash Packs.

The other day he asks me "how the Australian dollar is comparing to the US$.
I was amazed at this.

Geography is of course an easy one they learn.
He now knows where countries are.

Writing - we use a diary when he is on the road.
Often this can be a bit of a push.
But he has seen other kids who travel become "famous".
So now he thinks he might sell his diary when he is interviewed by Oprah.
Love the big thinking!

History is also easy.
Try to get an English guide if you go somewhere.
He loved the Guide telling him the walls were made of animal poo.
He was shy, but we learnt so much this day.

As for learning when you spend time at one place.
We do try to buy books when we find used book stores.

Marina's and hostels will have a book swapping area.
However, these weigh you down.
We now aim to download free books on the kindle app if his iPad.
He gets to download 3 free games and 3 free books each day - when we remember.

We also try to make learning fun.
I am not a fan of letting him un-school with unrestricted TV and computer time.
My son is excellent at art.
He often needs to be given a time to do art.
Of late we use whatever is in the house to make things.
Yesterday (after collecting for the last few weeks) we made these.

I could go on and on.
But really - the world is a wonderful teacher.
If I had the trip to start over again I would do it differently.
I would probably ditch the books.
I would allow more of what is around us to teach him.
I would lighten up - they are learning without us knowing.
I would spare the fights and the pushing.
I would guide differently.
People want instant results.
I would STOP comparing my child to those back in his school in Australia.
He will be behind in some areas.
But what he is learning will advance him in so many other areas.
Travelling is tiring - just because we don't see them learning, they are!

Put yourself in places to meet people.
Take time to visit museums and educational places.
One last place we went to - I will close with.
It was a Career Centre for kids.
Please see my Bogota, Colombia blog re this.
An amazing day of learning.

A safety tip on blogging - 
I blog after I leave a place, never when staying there.
You never know who reads your blogs, and you don't want some stalker or kidnapper after you.

And I now try to remember ....
"Don’t let schooling interfere with your education-Mark Twain"

Here is a Home-schooling book I can recommend

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