Outsourcing someone else to teach your kids when you’re travelling long term? Well surely that’s the best of both worlds! Pressure of homeschooling is alleviated from parent(s) through the magic of modern technology, whilst you adventure the globe as a family making those precious memories. But is it really that simple?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click to purchase, it is at no additional cost to you, and I receive a small commission. Please note that I have not be paid or incentivised to promote Tuition Up; I’m just sharing my experience of an awesome business run by a fellow mum for anyone considering online schooling for their kids. However, we have received a complimentary annual family subscription to DoodleLearning in exchange for including them in this blog and social media promotion. These are all my own words and opinions.
For our 2022 travels in Morocco for 4 months, we deregistered our kids from school for the UK summer term. We then re-registered them back into the same school for September, when we returned from our travels. Arthur was in Year 3 and Ezra in Year 2, when we left the UK. This worked so well, that we deregistered them again in 2023 to spend 10 weeks travelling Southeast Asia.
When you deregister your kids from school in England, the school are unable to hold their place or guarantee a place for their return. Thankfully, our boys attend a small village school that is under-subscribed, so we can pretty much guarantee a place for them on our return.
I’ve always believed that travel is the best education. Indeed, the adventures kids experience whilst exploring far flung destinations, far outweighs any classroom experiences. Travel is a long-term field trip where geography, history, language, and the arts comes to life.
However, fractions, adverbials and algebra don’t really feature much in day to day travel life. So if you want to keep your kids on track with their national curriculum, some amount of schooling is required.
So why online learning?
I had always imagined that I would teach the boys myself if we ever took them out of school to travel. That was always the plan. But something we learnt in lockdowns is that my boys work so much better being taught by someone else. It may come as no surprise to any parent reading this, but my kids just don’t listen to me when I ask them to put their shoes on, let alone when I ask them to do a couple of pages of a maths textbook! There was a fair bit of bribery and cajoling that went on during lockdowns.
Plus, I’m not a qualified teacher. People spend four years at university to qualify to become a teacher, and then there is continuous assessment of their teaching and further training. They are experts in their field.
So when I found out that my old uni-mate, Amy, had set up an online tutoring business, an idea sprung to mind: Amy could teach the boys whilst we’re travelling? Amy is a fully qualified teacher with over ten years classroom experience in primary education. Through Tuition Up she offers one-to-one and small group tuition online.
Not only does online learning take the pressure off us parents teaching the boys, but we can be confident that they will be covering what they need to cover, and in the right way. Moreover, it hopefully give me time to catch up on a little work myself; or is that wishful thinking?
What do you need for online schooling?
Decent WIFI and a tablet or laptop. The boys each have an Amazon Kindle Fire. Plus pencil/pens and paper.
From their tablet/laptop, Amy teaches via zoom.
When the boys have lessons booked in, we ensure we’re staying somewhere with good WIFI.
How much online schooling is needed?
Amy from Tuition Up recommends that the boys only need 1 hour each week to keep on top of maths and English. This may not sound like much time, but a lot more can be covered in one-to-one teaching compared to group learning, especially as the lesson is set specifically to the child’s level.
Click here to see the pricing of online lessons with Tuition Up.
To complement the online learning with Tuition Up, the boys read daily, and keep a travel journal of their adventures. The grandparents receive quite a few postcards too.
Plus, our boys do online French classes every week and continue these whilst we’re travelling in Morocco. With French being a main language spoken in Morocco, this was very handy for our Moroccan travels.
Additionally, we sign the boys up to DoodleLearning.
DoodleLearning was first recommended to me by Debbie from Grand Adventure Story. Her boys had used it whilst they were online schooling during their travels in Latin America and it worked really well.
DoodleLearning is 4 apps (Maths, English, Spelling, and Times Tables) that follow the UK curriculum, aimed at kids aged 4 to 14. Kids sit a baseline test first for each app, which is short set of exercises which allows Doodle to start personalising their programme. Then the idea is that kids complete a ten minute task per day following the personalised programme set by Doodle. This helps fill in their learning gaps and consolidates their knowledge.
You can sign up to a 7 day free trial. We tried this out with Arthur to see how it would work with him. It was brilliant! So I got in touch with Doodle and they set us up with an annual family subscription that covers the four apps (it’s £159.99 for the year).
And the great thing is that every Doodle app can be used offline on tablets, phones and laptops, enabling kids to learn anywhere, anytime. There will probably be times where we won’t have internet access in Morocco!
Our online schooling journey for our Morocco travels
Below I documented our online schooling journey for our 4 months of travels in Morocco for 2022; from the first trail online lesson with Tuition Up, right through to the boys returning back to school. Hopefully this will provide other families with a helpful insight into this method of schooling whilst travelling.
4th March 2022
I had a zoom meeting with Amy (without the boys) to discuss the their schooling whilst we’re travelling. Amy was keen to know about the boys personalities, and as she’s also a mum with kids of a similar age, she could very much relate with the differences between the two boys.
We locked in days and times for the boys’ lessons; an hour on a Tuesday morning and an hour on a Thursday morning. We agreed that it’s best that the boys do separate lessons, so half an hour each of each time slot.
17th March 2022
Arthur is not in school as he has tested positive for COVID (gosh, it’s really doing the rounds again!). So I’ve taken the opportunity to book in a half hour lesson with Amy at Tuition Up. Amy offers a free lesson to every new student so they can get used to the format, and she can get to know them.
I was absolutely amazed how much Amy covered in the 30 mins! I wouldn’t have done that in a week of homeschooling! They focused just on English and covered lots of grammar.
Arthur was buzzing after his lesson. He seemed to really enjoy it. This is a GREAT start and has filled me with confidence for our up-coming travels. We leave in less than four weeks.
30th March 2022
Ez has just done his trial online learning session with Amy. Listening in to the lesson, we’ve definitely made the right decision for them to have separate lessons with Amy. The boys are only 18 months apart, and even though they’re both bright boys, 18 months is a big gap academically. Plus they’re such different personalities. Arthur is very efficient and likes to move on quickly, whereas Ez likes a good chat.
Ez seemed to really enjoy it. So that’s another tick in the box.
Less than two weeks until we’re on that plane!
7th April 2022
To support their online lessons with Amy from TuitionUp, we’ve also signed to boys up to the DoodleLearning apps. These are 4 educational apps (doodlemaths, doodleenglish, doodlespell, and doodletables) that set a personalised learning program, following the UK Curriculum. There’s also a weekly group coaching session with the doodlemaths app to chat through some maths questions and any problems with other kids around the world.
For the past couple of weeks and in preparation for our travels, the boys have been doing 10 mins per day of DoodleLearning. I’m amazed how brilliant this app is, and I really hope that there enthusiasm with this continues through our travels.
They’ve also tried out the DoodleCoaching session. It seems a really good way to keep them engaged and accountable with the app. Plus, I was very impressed how patient the DoodleLearning coach was with chatty Ez, who likes to go off on tangents.
We leave in four days, although with concern over PCR testing, airport delays, and flight cancellations, we feel that we can’t get excited until we’re actually there.
27th April 2022
We have been in Morocco now for two weeks and it feels so amazing to finally be here!
Online schooling has begun this week and it’s been a great start. We’re staying in an Airbnb in Marrakech Medina. We have a three bed house to ourselves with space to spread out, and incredible rooftop views over Ben Salah Mosque and the rooftops beyond.
The free WIFI at the house isn’t strong enough for video calls, so we have a WIFI hotspot device with a Moroccan sim for the boys to connect to to do their online lessons. It costs about £8 for 10GB of data, which is all we will use for the week. This has worked brilliantly.
And the boys have really taken to the online classes. They seem really engaged and focused, and there have been lots of giggles in the lessons too. Lets hope it continues!
The boys have also written postcards to their classes in school back at home, kept up with their travel journals, and are also keeping their daily streak going with DoodleLearning (the DoodleCoaching maths session also went really well). This is all on top of exploring the wonders and history of chaotic Marrakech.
7th June 2022
We have now been in Morocco for two months and are half way through the UK Summer Term, having just had a little break from online lessons for half term. After a week in Marrakech, we moved on to Essaouira, where we stayed for four weeks and the boys had a lovely space for learning (photos below). The WIFI has worked well for the online lessons, and aside from the odd glitch one day, we haven’t had any problems.
I’m sat typing this from the dining table of our Airbnb in Tetouan. Arthur is sat the other end doing an online Maths lesson with Amy. He’s still so focused and engaged in his lessons, and I really think that’s a lot to do with Amy’s teaching. Ez is just about to pop on afterwards.
I can honestly say that the online lessons are still going brilliantly. Just in two, focused, half hour sessions per week, the boys cover so much.
I’ve never had to coax and cajole them into doing online lessons (including the Doodle Coaching group maths classes), which I know for a fact is something I’d have to deal with if I were teaching them myself.
The boys have also kept up their Doodle Learning streak and completed a task in each of the four apps every day of our travels. The offline ability of the app has helped for travel days, such as the train to Casablanca.
The remainder of the Summer Term
I’m sat typing this back in the UK, realising I never got around to doing anymore updates.
Online schooling worked brilliantly and the boys continued it through to the ‘end of term’. It became so very naturally part of our travelling life. They continued with DoodleLearning, and Amy also expanded lessons to topics that their friends were learning back in the UK.
Returning back to school from Morocco
Thankfully the boys got their places back at school. They slipped back into the system again, like they’d never been away. It’s amazing how adaptable kids can be; it was me who struggled most with being back home in the usual routine.
For us, the online lessons were always about keeping on top of maths and English that the boys were missing being away from school. However, what actually transpired is that they both came on leaps and bounds as both Amy at Tuition Up and the DoodleLearning apps were able to tailor lessons to stretch them further. So if anything, the boys got to cover areas in Maths and English that they wouldn’t necessarily have done in school.
Would we do online schooling again for travel?
Well in 2023 we deregistered the boys again from their school to spend 10 weeks backpacking Southeast Asia. I think that answers that question.
The difference this time was that Jay wasn’t working (he worked remotely when we travelled Morocco), as he took unpaid parental leave. Yet despite Jay having time to school the boys, we still decided to employ the services of Amy at Tuition Up and the DoodleLearning apps again.