Why I plan to give my son a gap year when he is 10
Something that my montessori journey has lead me to is the importance of real life experiences when it comes to the child picking up concepts and understanding subjects.
There is no book or materials that can beat the reality of seeing a cow, smelling a cow, touching a cow. It seems so logical and simple to me. Yet what I have seen is how many children don't get access to real life experiences because the world is moving too fast and we cannot schedule it into our diaries, or they simply cannot access them due to a lack of resources (money, location).
In my head, I have been planning and working out my nearly 3 year olds educational journey and what would suit him best. It has me continually returning to a transition that happens for a lot of kids. When they hit grade 5, they move to their private school and get on with 'proper education'.
I plan to give my son a gap year for Grade 4 and to home school him whilst travelling the world backpacking.
I don't think there is anything more important than the real life experiences travel offers a person, and at ten, imagine the things you could learn. Imagine the experiments you could do in different parts of the world. The languages you could be exposed to. History, geography - the way people learn maths in different countries. Imagine the humanitarian connection from being part of communities who need your contribution to survive. Imagine being 10 and having the opportunity to teach a child in Africa something new.
I don't believe in sitting in a four walled environment day in, day out. I don't believe in not sitting down and learning like this. I believe in a balance. And I don't think our current 'factory' of educational institutions offer the right balance.
Some questions I have been faced with -
What about if he misses something crucial? If you have the curriculum and basic concepts, you can adapt and expand on this, and introduce them into your travels. It is probable that the child will learn more in this one year than in two years at school, in my opinion.
How could you afford that? I make the plan now and have 6 years to plan for it. Its part of the future budget and planning.
People will think you're crazy - why should what others think stop me from doing something I believe in.
What about siblings? - We plan to add one more to our family. At the rate this is going, the youngest would be around prep age when we would plan to do this. At the end of the first six critical years in their life. Also, a perfect time to have these experiences. Their view and lessons will be different to a ten year olds, which doesn't make it any less critical or important.
What about jobs, your own lives? - If you have a plan, you can work this into your decisions and daily choices and make anything work. Its all about a lifestyle, and committing to something, and getting it done. My life, after a year travelling with my family, would be one of the best things I could imagine ever doing, and the most fulfilling for me personally. At 18 when all of my friends were travelling, I was running my own business. The one thing I used to always say is if I do this now, I can travel later and for longer. This is that time.
It's the gap year that teenagers crave in high school. The one they all want between school and uni. Just earlier. And I strongly believe that this experience before my son becomes a teenager will help shape him into a wonderful adult who is compassionate, resilient, understanding, committed and happy.
That thought makes my heart sing.
- Rebecca Grugan