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Online school on the road: camperlife in South America
We are a Montana family on the road for a year, traveling South America in our two pickups with pop-up campers. We are staying in a combination of situations of camps, Airbnbs and Workaway stays.
Our son is 14 and attempting to complete highschool courses along the way because he has the goal of returning to his school in Butte, Montana with enough credits to be a Sophomore. He is currently a Freshman enrolled in BYU online courses.
I would have chosen a free, non-religiously affiliated school like k12 if it was an option. If he hadn’t been interested in returning to Butte High, there would have been more options including more interactive schooling. We chose BYU which is, ironically, religiously affiliated because it had some support the other option didn’t have. Plus the price was a little less.
As we have more time traveling in the countries of South America I believe more strongly that his experiences in camps with Argentinan friends, buying snacks in stores in Spanish, pick up basketball with kids in Colombia, and problem solving travel issues, understanding other cultures politics and economies is his true education this year. Just as the majority of time in a traditional school is social, his time dedicated to curriculum is short compared to time he spends becoming himself in this place. The anxiety for me of course is wondering if this is “enough” when entering back into the Montana education system.
We enrolled Niles in 4 courses through BYU which align with requirements to re-enter Butte High, he is slowly picking through the coursework. The experience as a parent is that we can check his progress from our account but he is very protective against us being with him as he does school. He is in general not an enthusiastic student and missing his friends. When he applies himself, grades go up, when he doesn’t grades go down.
In our family, education has been highly valued. We are engineers, attorneys, nurses, plumbers, electricians, gardeners, and adventure seekers. I don’t know of any relatives in our last 3 generations that didn’t finish a traditional highschool. However, I also see that our family situation is in a unique opportunity to give a global education which the Montana school curriculum cannot provide. So, pros and cons.
Today, Niles has a sunburn from sitting near the camp store doing school next to the camp’s internet connection. He is doing a weeks worth of school to catch up after we had days of travel from the Atlantic Coast of Argentina to the Andes of Argentinan Patagonia. Traveling days and internet strong enough to complete school assignments is an issue now that wasn’t an issue in the first 3 months of travel, Google Fi cut us off of our service at month three of international travel.
We continue to pay for Google Fi and may have a way for another phone on our service that is in use by Vivian’s friend to come down here and provide a hotspot for another three months.
We welcome comments and ideas that may help us make this Freshmen year even better for this guy. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
Traveling from Parque National Laguna Blanca, Argentina Patagonia, to camp near Junin de Los Andes, Argentina, Patagonia
I’m writing you while sitting in camp Deli outside Junin de Los Andes, 40 km from San Martin. No internet for us while navigating because Google Fi only lasted 3 months into our travels. We didn’t read the fine print which said that Google Fi does allow global international coverage however the majority of use must be within the US. We are 4.5 months into our travels in South America. Google Fi cut off at the 3 month mark. Now piecing together free WiFi access points, “tuenti” cards, “flexiroam”, researching satellite coverage to navigate and communicate with you all. Smiles.