Two and a half years ago, my husband and I became full-time RVers. We have traveled the United States and Canada, visited site after site, and met tons of people. We've also encountered many younger RVers, most traveling as families who homeschool their children. Each year, the number of full-time homeschool families grows dramatically as more and more parents become angry at changing American education policies. I call this growth The Homeschool Phenomenon.
We are currently in Orlando, Florida where many of these families are meeting up for winter. Over the time we've been here, I've worked very hard to interact with the families to learn all I can about their travels and their studies. What I've found is both inspiring and sad.
Most of these families are doing it right. They travel to visit historic sites, investigate locations, plan out travel costs and mileage, and perform science experiments at their campsites. A large majority supplement their travel lessons with online programs (very similar to textbook studies) from which their children can earn credits, just as if enrolled in a public high school. Most of the older children can tell you their plans for their future, sharing dreams of college or study abroad. And we all agree, there is so much to learn on the road.
And then there are the few...
A few have taken on the mantra of unschooling, but only in literal name and not in intended practice. Even unschooling, in its purest form, requires parental involvement and interaction. It can be a very effective tool for natural learning. These few families are not providing any instruction for their children at all, and more importantly, provide no supervision or guidance, not only in learning, but in daily life. The children play, from daylight until after dark, and sadly, skills are not learned, basics are not practiced, and potential is slipping away.
Having homeschooled my own daughter for a couple years of her academic career, I am a huge proponent for homeschooling. However, I an NOT in support of what I am seeing in this current phenomenon. I am saddened, frustrated, and angry. I am upset that these children are falling through the cracks, and at the hands of their own parents.
More importantly, I am upset at myself. Being a teacher to the bone, and always an advocate for the care of children, I am most upset that I can do nothing about it.