We are carrying all kinds of books and physical materials for education but as of 2017 the internet has become a great source of learning tools.
The most famous among world schoolers is Khan-Academy. Accidentally started by a banker a couple of years ago when he uploaded some videos in order to explain math to his cousins, it’s now the biggest internet academy world wide and it’s free! I heard the Gates Foundation is a sponsor and the goal is to make education available for everybody. There are thousands of videos about just anything and you are also provided with tons of exercises to practice what you’ve heard in those videos. Being on a boat often means we don’t have a good internet connection but luckily there’s KA-Lite, and you can download all the Khan-Academy materials and use them offline. Again for free!! Much of the material has been translated to or subtitled with other languages which is again fantastic since not all kids speak English that well. Jari just practiced geometry and measuring angles with Khan in German.
I was recently introduced to something comparable in German, although not for free: The Simple Club. Again explanatory (and very entertaining!) videos – which are for free – and lots and lots of exercises (for about 10€/month). I’m finding out about their offline availability right now so bear with me on that.
There are many educational apps for your mobile devices that aren’t half bad. Duolingo for example – a language learning app that helps you get a feeling for a language and practice everyday phrases. Babbel is a great online language learning program but it’s not free (10€ per month but it gets cheaper if you commit for more than 1 month). However I recently learned that you can have all languages enabled so your whole family can use the app simultaneously – as long as you don’t study the same language (bummer). But if you want to learn some Portuguese and your kid needs to practice his English – there you go.
For geography (great subject when traveling of course) there are plenty of little games where you need to find countries on a map, name their capitals and so on. They certainly don’t substitute a real lesson or reading a book or preparing a presentation but they give kids a good overview of what the planet looks like and how it has been apportioned. Jari likes to play Wo liegt das? but there are plenty of similar apps in all languages.
History is another one of our favorite subjects on the boat. There are soooooo many ways to learn about history when you are traveling! We also rediscovered the 80s cartoon series ‚Once upon a time… man‘ (‚Es war einmal der Mensch‘) – they should be all on Youtube and via Clipgrab (a file download program) we can download them in bulk and watch them without internet whenever we want. In about 25 episodes world history is covered in an entertaining way. It serves well as an overview but of course it can’t be more than that.
You might remember Bill Bryson’s epic book A brief history of almost everything and there’s a kids‘ edition (also as audio books) available with colors and pictures and written more simple and entertaining.
What’s really great and we have used years before we took off are the ‚What on Earth‘ – wall books. They show history not in our familiar linear way but make clear how events are intertwined and how cultures developed simultaneously. They are lovingly illustrated and – folded like a leporello – can be hung up on the wall.
The boys are really into typing right now and whenever we have internet they can use free online programs (this one is German but there are plenty of other sites for all kinds of keyboards) to practice how to use their 10 fingers to type. Once they have mastered all keys they can then go on to practice that via typing games but careful, they are addictive.
What materials are you using? I have just started our compilation so there’s much more to come!