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help needed - thinking about taking a year off with our DD when she is 11

(10 Posts)
dadwithadaughter Tue 05-Apr-16 22:14:21

My DD is 6 yrs old and we are just beginning to consider taking a year out as a family when she is 11 in 2020 and travelling after she has first secured a place at an appropriate London day school or boarding school. She is doing well at school, is confident and full of joy, a very good communicator and doing pretty well generally. She is probably the youngest in her year.

The idea of spending a year partly in London, a ski season in Switzerland and a series of 4 to 8 week trips to Asia, Australasia, South America, Africa, india, etc is only just beginning to form. Clearly its far to early to be sure if this will be suitable for her; and if its not we will drop it.

My DW and I are actively involved in supporting the astonishingly rounded and personal education she is getting now from her amazing school. We would want to give her a once-in-a-lifetime view of the world before she starts her secondary school. As we would be effectively dropping a year, I guess that we would want to give her a curriculum-lite schooling that would make her first year at secondary school pretty easy and at the same time let her enjoy life whilst learning a broader view of the world than she would get in the classroom.

Is this an appropriate forum to seek advice. If not, where might we look? Is there anyone who has experience of this kind of year and should we be looking to take a teacher with us to make sure that home schooling is professionally structured?

This might seem a very far fetched fantasy plan, and so it is! However, it is something that we are just beginning to think about. We realise that this is not a normal approach and it might be considered to be self indulgent. Both my DW and I have had full-on careers and we have been fortunate to have a bit of spare cash and now have the luxury of being able to take a year off in comfort.

Any advice would be appreciated

noblegiraffe Tue 05-Apr-16 22:19:10

Have you thought of an online school like InterHigh?

NewLife4Me Tue 05-Apr-16 22:31:16

I would do it again in without question, but we didn't travel.
Our H.ed ws for different reasons.
I don't think you need to worry too much as long as you keep up with some educational based work/ play.
Obviously the core subjects are important, Geography she will be learning as you travel. Language, maybe French or German would be a good idea too.
Most H.edders find that a couple of hours 1 to 1 is plenty of time for them to keep up.
We didn't do too much structured work during the 3 years my dd had a tutor for languages as these were important to her, she also had more structured Maths and English, but the rest was pretty autonomous just following her interests.
It's my opinion that even if you do take a structured approach there needs to be time for self interest learning. Just picking up a book on a topic you like, searching internet in areas you enjoy.
The joy is being able to study non curriculum topics as in depth as you want to.
I think it's a lovely idea and we would have travelled more if we could have afforded it.
Good luck, go for it.

Heirhelp Wed 06-Apr-16 11:39:38

This is a forum for teaching staff. You might find the education or the home education board to be the more helpful.

ceebie Wed 06-Apr-16 12:30:43

Heirhelp I assume he was looking for views from teachers. If you don't want to communicate with non-teachers on this board you don't have to. Although perhaps you are right and non-teachers are not welcome to post here; I had hoped that Mumsnet would not be quite so unfriendly though.

PotteringAlong Wed 06-Apr-16 12:37:16

I'm a teacher; I say go for it! Take lots of photos and live the dream!

ClaudiaWankleman Wed 06-Apr-16 12:45:21

I am not a teacher, so I won't comment on the educational aspect is this.

The opportunity is fantastic, and your DC would undoubtedly benefit hugely. However it is far from a once in a lifetime opportunity - gap years (before and after university) are very common and can take the form of volunteer work, ski work, partying or educational experiences (like a one year language course, which I have experience of). This is alongside the great experiences you could provide in school holidays. I would therefore weigh up whether you feel that the experience should definitely be taken right then, or could/ should wait.

Opportunities and experiences change with age, so of course (with money in mind) you might choose to take advantage of the time you have to do this multiple times.

Either way it sounds wonderful, I am truly envious and wish you all the best.

dadwithadaughter Thu 07-Apr-16 00:45:09

Heirhelp thanks for your post. I posted in the Secondary Education section a week ago and received some very helpful advice about where to go and some of the issues I might need to address.

I thought that I would post in the Education area because I am specifically interested in how to make sure that whatever else we mess up in the year off that it's not my DD's education. Who better to ask than teachers?

Also, in the back of my mind was that I thought that someone might be interested and be qualified to be my DD's teacher on this trip, or know someone who might be interested. For the right person it could also be the opportunity of a lifetime; well paid, comfortable, exciting and basically a damn good crack.

Heirhelp Thu 07-Apr-16 11:07:53

Dad I just thought another forum might be more helpful. Personally I would have thought that the experience itself would be her education and she would not need any formal education for one year. This is a similar philosophy to home educators so you might want to ask them about maximuming learning opportunities.

On a practical note I would be concerned that the schools you are intetested in for secondary education may require exams or interviews at certains times of the year.I am a state school teacher so I can't advise on this, maybe try speaking directly to the schools you are interested in.

dadwithadaughter Thu 07-Apr-16 16:01:34

Heirhelp You may be absolutely right that the year travelling may be enough education in its own right. This was my initial view, however, as its so very important we get this right, your view as a teacher and that of your profession are particularly valuable.

The schools we have visited that we like the most either seem to be more about the child to get a place (Beadales); or they have their own entrance exam (Cheltenham Ladies College / St Mary's Ascot); or rely on Common Entrance (South Hampstead School for Girls).

We will not commit to a year off without first having secured a place for her at her preferred secondary school. I think DD's current school will be heavily involved in the process and from our conversation about this I think that they will happily support our plan (when we decide what it is) and use their considerable influence to help us get a deferred place.

My DD is exceptional in some ways. She is an extraordinarily confident and accomplished communicator an avid reader and an enthusiasm for the world around her for a 6 yr old. She loves to read the Week Junior magazine and talk about current events; Trump, Syria and a diet of bugs - clearly she is more interested in bugs than Trump, but who isnt! I am confident that she will interview well at 11+ schools.

It is too early to be confident about her academic abilities in exams. They don't start exam training for 11+ until she is 7. How she is likely to perform under the pressure of an exam wont be clear until she has got used to simulated exam conditions. The girls HM explained to us a few weeks ago that the stress of the exam is at least as important as to what they know. From next year they begin a process of mini mocks building up to multiple full mocks and structured revision - getting them used to being examined in a facsimile of the situation they will be in for the exams themselves. Unfamiliar locations, large groups, unknown adjudicators, loo breaks, back to back 90 minute exams, etc. They didn't do any if this when I was at school.

She has first rate help from an astoundingly rounded co-ed school where Latin and History is given as much weight as Gardening. Her class is 12 girls with 2 - 4 teachers, depending on the subject, so I believe she will learn well.

It looks like she is not top of the class for STEM subjects, which may change in the years ahead, but we are beginning to assume that if she wants to pursue an academic trajectory that all schools but the very hot house academic ones will be open to her. St Pauls is not on our list and Wycombe Abbey, though being the most convenient for us of all schools, is just to joyless for our sunshine DD.

I've gone on a bit further than your post. Please excuse the ramble!

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