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if you could take a year off before DD goes to secondary school.....

(34 Posts)
dadwithadaughter Fri 01-Apr-16 01:43:04

What would you do and where would you go if you had the luxury of taking a year off with your child before they start big school?

antimatter Fri 01-Apr-16 01:49:43

All woukd have depended on finances.
But I would travel in SE Asia or went to teach English to Japan for a year and send my child to school there.

MrsTerryPratchett Fri 01-Apr-16 01:55:22

Travel. But try to find places they would be interested in. I remember a family we met in Kenya who did this with one child who was loving it and one hating it. So make sure the child is on board!

PettsWoodParadise Fri 01-Apr-16 06:41:12

We just embarked on this with DD but just one term. I sadly have to work but DD and DH have a great syllabus which involves lots of visits, mental maths and more. DD is studying for her navigation exam so she can come flying with me and help with flight planning is just one example. She starts at grammar school in September but we are going to have so much fun before then, learning at the same time.

dadwithadaughter Fri 01-Apr-16 11:58:20

The idea about taking a year off is only just forming. It will probably be no more than an idea but just perhaps it might be a real possibility.

We are older parents than most with a 6 yr old. I am just past 50. We have both been fortunate at work and my DW is not likely to work again. I have a natural career break ahead where I could take a year off while I think about what I do next.

My DD was born at the end of the academic year so she is the youngest in the class. We think that it is likely she will board, although we are visiting both day and boarding schools. If she is going to boarding school with her friends we will drop the idea, but I think it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for her and us to travel, learn new things and we can be together for a year before we truly become old farts and before she is more interested in boys and social media.

We have a lot of time to plan and to think about it, so if we do go ahead, then we will get it right.

antimatter i like the idea of Japan for a while. By then she will have visited Tokyo and Kyoto. She loves Japanese food and has a few words of Japanese. I think Japan is the safest first world culture shock and we plan to take DD there soon. However, the idea of travelling through rural Japan staying at Ryokans is very appealing, at least for a month or so. Very cool idea, thank you.

We have discussed schooling. My DW is looking at a term at a school in Verbier where can all ski for a season. She is already a competent skier and will be able to out ski me soon. What a privilege it would be to be able to do a season - my better ski friends tell me that holidays are not enough to be truly excellent at skiing - so in our fantasy year off, perhaps she learns to be an über skier.

MrsTerryPratchett you mention Kenya - I have traveled a lot but not anywhere in the centre of Africa except big cities like Lagos. How would you deal with issues like security and health during an extended stay in Africa, in particular whilst being in the move?

You make an excellent point about making sure DD is on board with the idea. I think we would have to have 'travel seasons' and return to London between each. We had a month in California last year - that was a perfect length - a mixture of a beach house and travelling. I think we would need to have a contingency to stop the year if she lost interest or became homesick. The idea of sailing around the world, for instance, fills me with dread. For some it would be a dream.

PettsWoodParadise. I have a feeling that as a very young child We may have lived in Petts Wood. I have clear memories of Camden Way in Chislehurt, but I think that was later.

I am very excited about you and your DD learning a skill together. My DW and DD have just got a horse / pony and this summer my DD is going to ride most days and do local shows in Oxfordshire. By the end of the summer she should be able to hack with DW.

Its a fantastic thing you are doing with your DD, learning a skill together like flying / navigating. How cool is that. Perhaps we could do something similar in Australia. Ranching by horse / helicopter / PLA. There is definitely something to think about there, something we can all learn together. Thank you.

Decorhate Fri 01-Apr-16 15:56:32

It sounds like a great adventure if everyone is on board. Just one thing to bear in mind, check all your dates very carefully in terms of application deadlines, entrance exams, etc. I'm assuming these may be more flexible in the private sector but I know someone who got caught out when applying for a state secondary school

dadwithadaughter Fri 01-Apr-16 18:44:04

Doctorhate thanks for your advice. We will definitely have secured a place for DD with the school before planning to go. The academic private schools are very difficult to get places so we won't put that at risk. If she is going to a less academic schools it will be easier but we will still want to have agreed a place for her in advance.

PettsWoodParadise Fri 01-Apr-16 21:10:20

If it is any help we knew DD had got her grammar place by mid October. We hadn't had the formal first of March offer but going by scores in the past and DD's being well above it was fairly clear cut. We have booked trips and visits that tie in with our home ed programme etc but steered clear of school induction days and so forth. DD is very much on board and really energised by the whole prospect.

ChalkHearts Sat 02-Apr-16 03:39:40

Seeing as I prefer primary school education, where you mostly have one teacher, to secondary education, where mostly you have each teacher for only a couple of hours a week, I would not want my child to take a year out.

KS3 I have found to be far more of a wasted year than any year in KS2.

Having many teachers for one hour a week I have found to be a disaster.

I wish we still had middle schools and a primary style education could be extended for a couple of years.

think very carefully about taking a year out.

DeliveredByKiki Sat 02-Apr-16 04:07:24

We're planning a shorter trip, more like 5months and with younger children (they'll be 5&8 or 6&9 depending how the planning. Goes) but we're doing South America - probably sticking to 3 countries.

They're good travelers because we live abroad and does transcontinental flights annually but actual constant traveling will be very different and they're homebodies so we're doing lots of shorter trips in the lead uk to acclimatize!

cressetmama Sat 02-Apr-16 16:26:03

We travelled with DS for six months when he was eight and took him out of school completely. Travelled around the world with time in California, Fiji, NZ, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Dubai. We spent three months in NZ and a month in Sri Lanka. DS had odd days in local schools where language permitted but we just read, did some maths and kept a diary with him, and visited lots of museums, galleries plus interesting historical and geographic places wherever we were. Getting him to study was not easy but the following year he was diagnosed with poor visual processing speeds. Fast forward nine years, and I don't think any harm was done to the educational process. Hats off to the head teacher who gave us the blessing to go!

dadwithadaughter Mon 04-Apr-16 15:59:59

We have been talking about this within the family the last few days. Subtle, but important, differences of opinion are beginning to emerge.

Since dropping a year before secondary school is not meant to replace the discarded year we dont need to educate for the first year of school but we can prepare DD to do well in that year but leave it at that. For this reason informal home schooling will be adequate snd we wont need a tutor to travel with us.

DW feels learning a language is a key objective, which will mean a very extended stay in one country, ie skiing in France / Switzerland for a season and the summer in France, for instance. I dont feel the same - i think we should spend no more than a month than 6 weeks in any one country.

This is still a fantasy concept and a long way off execution, but we might do it. Any more ideas and advice are welcome.

dadwithadaughter Mon 04-Apr-16 16:10:29

So far, these are my favourite destinations for this idea

Tea house trek in Anapurna region of Tibet
SE Asia circuit including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos.
Train from Bankok to Singapore & Rangoon to Mandalay Express
Small boat on the Flores sea, Indonesia
Diving the Barrier Reef and Winebago around NZ
Tokyo and Kyoto cherry blossom season
Long road trip in US, possibly PCH then South American highway to the Darrian and Hawaii / Galapagos
Tanzania skeleton coast + Safari
Ski season in Europe

VocationalGoat Mon 04-Apr-16 16:12:27

California...
All day long would be my choice.
You just can't go wrong with California.

VocationalGoat Mon 04-Apr-16 16:17:02

Keep in mind your DC will get homesick and fed up of travelling. You might reconsider uprooting every month and consider 3 long stretches in different places. Maybe 4 months out West: California up to Vancouver. 4 months in Thailand/Vietnam/maybe the Philippines or Malaysia. 4 months in Northeastern Europe/Russia. This would be my dream.

dadwithadaughter Tue 05-Apr-16 00:49:08

VocationalGoat my current thinking is to come home about almost as often as we are away, otherwise it could just become a logistics exercise in travel. Perhaps 6 weeks away, then 3/4 back in London.

We like California and are often there; we were based in LA where my BIL has a house last summer. MIL came with us and we left them both in LA for week long trips to Montecito ( near Santa Barbara) and Laguna Beach, to the south. But to make it special we might skip this unless its part of a bigger trip.

Because LA is very familiar to us, we might consider this to be an 'at home' part of the fantasy year off.

I would like to pick at least 4 from the list below. It would be nice to do something adventurous with her so that she can tell her children and we can spend a lot of time together before we become too embarrassing to be around!

We are in Florida this week. DD still likes Disney but not like last year, the magic of the Magic Kingdom is definitely wearing off, she is, however still very entertaining and a joy to be around..... Most of the time.

ShanghaiDiva Tue 05-Apr-16 07:11:00

From your list one of my concerns would be access to healthcare in some of the places:
Laos - for anything serious you would need to be evacuated to Bangkok
Yangon - also not great
Tibet - altitude sickness and if the tour is actually in Tibet (and not Nepal) it can be a difficult process to get permission to go there.
NZ really is a fab destination and is amazing for learning about geography/geology - earthquakes, geothermal activity, mountains, lakes and fab wildlife - penguins, dolphins and whales.
If you plan to go to Tokyo and Tibet/Nepal would definitely include China - really easy to get around with the train, but visa may be a problem unless your travel plans are detailed and have hotel bookings.

DessertOrDesert Tue 05-Apr-16 07:29:54

If you want a language consistency, what about Spanish?
Some time in Spain, then off to South America. Skiing in Chile or Argentina, some Amazon rain forest / Incas history, and "pop" up to LA as required, rather than back to Europe? Not utalising much of your list, except Disney would fit geographically!!!

G1raffe Tue 05-Apr-16 07:32:22

Oooh following. Wed like to do this (especially of she gets into grammar when the time comes!)

dadwithadaughter Tue 05-Apr-16 10:18:32

ShanghaiDiva health is definitely one of my major concerns and is firmly on the list for more thinking. I am very worried about places in Africa like the skeleton coast in Tanzania. I guess this is one of those things that we wont ever get comfortable with, but we will do the best we can to mitigate risk.

From your name, I presume that you are in Shanghai. I have been to China many times, though on business, but I had a lot of free time when there. If have done the touristy sites around Beijing and the Great Wall. I have had some great city dining and night out experiences in Shanghai, but China has not grabbed me yet. I could do a few trips to investigate - where would you suggest? The warriors in Xian, that amazing looking limestone pediment valley with the cormorant fishing - Guanxi Zhuang, I think. Where else warrants a slot on my fantasy world tour?

You also mention NZ. One of my favourite memories was driving with DW round the south island - as you say, a different geography every day - Scotland one day, then Kent, then Bordeaux, then the Giants Causeway, then the Grand St Bernard, then the Fjords. Just amazing, want to show that to DD and re-live the land in Lord of the Rings! My only regret is that we didn't do this in a big RV - would have added to the adventure.

I have not been to the north islands - I understand that Bay of Islands is meant to be amazing.

dadwithadaughter Tue 05-Apr-16 11:02:47

DessertOrDesert you are absolutely right, Spanish is probably the most useful language to learn for /on this trip. My Spanish is absolutely appauling, as I was reminded yesterday when trying to buy a taco from a food truck in Florida. DW speaks a bit, but there is no doubt that Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world. Given that we plan to keep a home in SoCal in the future its probably important we brush up.

I left South America off the list, not because I dont want to go, just because we will be there a bit before the fantasy year off.

My travel bug started in 1986, when I had my first short career break. I met up with a friend who was travelling down from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego on a post university gap year. We met in Lima, Peru and travelled by bus and train to La Paz in Bolivia; on the way we flew over the Nazca Lines in a tiny tiny plane, saw perfectly preserved pre-Incan bodies in the Atacama desert, drank Pisco Sour in Arequipa - the most beautiful Castilian town I have ever seen; climbed Chacaltya (24,500 m - higher than Everest base camp); played football on a floating Island on Lake Titicaca and hiked the Inca Trail from Cuzco to Macchu Picchu, including the most extraordinary meal on the train. All of this needs doing again, but as I write, I am thinking we may do this one school holiday in the next few years.

By the way, there is a ski slope on Chacaltya, by far the highest in the world. I walked for 10 minutes to the summit - i am no mountaineer!

I have always had a passion for visiting Venezuela to ride on the Pampas and to climb into the Lost World of Arthur Conan Doyle in Roraima. I think my DD 6 yr old would be entranced by the prehistoric world high on the limestone pediments there - perhaps that should go on this list.

Thank you for your thoughts

dadwithadaughter Tue 05-Apr-16 11:08:33

DessertOrDesert given your name, what about deserts? In my previous post i mentioned the Atacama. One of my favourite movies is Lawrence of Arabia and my least favourite holiday ever was getting stranded at the eastern edge of the Sahara, so I am ambivalent about deserts. Nit so about desserts, kf which I am unambiguously a fan!

Which are you?

dadwithadaughter Tue 05-Apr-16 11:11:11

G1faffe where would you like to go? Where have you been that you would like to take the family to see again? What do you expect to lear from the trip?

ShanghaiDiva Tue 05-Apr-16 13:08:41

I am in China, but not in Shanghai.
Some of the the areas worth considering:
Guilin - limestone karsts, cycling though the villages and taking a trip down the river on a bamboo raft and there is an amazing evening show on the lake.
Harbin - for the ice festival
Xi'an for the warriors also drum tower, goose pagoda and you can cycle along the wall. There is also a muslim market there as a lot of uighers come to Xi'an to study.
Chengdu to the panda breeding centre - amazing.
Yunnan province amazing scenery and the largest concentration of non-Han Chinese in China.

NZ North Island is fabulous - recommend Rotorua , Waiheke Island, Napier, for the deco architecture and of course Hobbiton! There is also an amazing museum in Wellington (te papa?) which my children loved. We spend 6 hours in there. I love NZ - have been 5 times smile

LunaLunaLovegood Tue 05-Apr-16 13:15:38

When my eldest was 6 I loved the idea of a year away before high school. However I now actually have an 11 year old and to be quite honest, with a year off, he would want to spend most of it playing football with his friends. Our school system isn't perfect but he is so securely embedded in it he would hate the idea of missing/going back a year.

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