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Hi there. I’m not home-edding yet but I’m considering travelling and Wwoofing in Europe this year, for several months at least - in fact, what I’d like to do is go and never come back, having set up some kind of sustainable way of living over there involving nature and growing things etc.  Yes, yes, I know, all very vague, as plans go….but I figure the first step is the wwoofing - don’t have to give up everything to do it and should learn some skills and realities along the way.

The problem is that my son is in year 9 at mainstream school and whilst I’m a bit over the whole mainstream ed thing anyway and think that working on organic farms etc would be a fantastic alt education, he says he wants to “get an education and do GCSEs”.  Now largely, I know this is what he’s being indoctrinated with, but also, of course, I want him to have options in his future, I want him to have an easier life than me. 

So just wait another 2 years, right? Well…no.  I’ve waited so long already, putting off and putting off the decision because of various things that I thought would stand in the way or be compromised along the way - his friends at primary school, transition to secondary, his relationship with his dad, my work….  to the point now where I am seriously burnt out and dont’ feel like I’ve got another 2-3 years in me, things staying as they are now, seriously.  It’s not lost on me that had I just bit the bullet years ago and taken a few risks, I probably wouldn’t be in this situation now.  So no more time to waste…

My questions are - am I ruining his life?!  If I take him out of school to home ed for several months while we travel, would he then be able to get back into school to complete GCSEs?  is there any distance learning type stuff available for GCSEs? How do GCSEs actually work now since continual assessment was done away with - is it just one big exam at the end on everything they learnt in the last 2 years? 

Many thanks folks, in advance, for any help or light you can shed.  smile

Hi Ros, Great questions! I’m with you on the belief that working on farms, travelling, meeting people from all walks of life would be a good alternative education. I’d go further and say that this would offer a better schooling in life than your son would get from attending secondary school in the UK. But that’s just my opinion and I know that HE works really well for some families, and not so well for others. I have two teenagers who’ve been home educated (one of my daughters is now in college) and we’ve navigated GCSEs as part of their education. My children have studied for iGCSEs and taken them at local colleges as external candidates. iGCSEs are made up of 1 or 2 years worth of study culminating in one or two exams (no coursework) so work well for distance learning. We’ve found loads of resources online, have tapped into local expertise in the subjects they’ve studied and it’s been a good learning experience for them. Having said this, you can attend college in the UK and study for Maths and English GCSE (the two that are required to study higher education courses) alongside your chosen subject, so this might be an easier (and more cost effective) method for you and your son. Got any questions about any aspect of this? Just shout - we’re in the middle of applying for exams for this year so lots of firsthand info available here!
I keep coming back to the wonderful quote from Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day - “Tell me, what is it you wish to do with this one wild and precious life?” Hope you find a solution that fits for you and your son and that refuels and refreshes you in equal measure. Good luck xx

Hi Ros,

I don’t envy you being in this position! I think travelling and working abroad would be such a fantastic and life-changing experience for you and your son. However, he obviously feels very much part of the school and seems to enjoy school life. Sadly as we know most jobs require GCSE’s as a minimum qualification so I can see the advantage of him getting them out the way (so to speak). Can you do shorter stints working abroad during the school holidays for example until he finishes? I really know that feeling of wanting to do something so much but it never being the right time for whatever reason. I feel so nourished and energised when I have been in a different country. If I could afford it I would buy a bus and travel all around the world with my son and partner smile

Hope it all works out for you and your son xx

As a Wwoof host I can confirm that its a most wonderful way to learn and travel and live for nothing!  Have you thought about changing your job so you can both get out there and WWOOF during all the holiday periods? That way your son will not miss out on his social and academic side, and still enjoy the rich experiences that Wwoof offers.


I had only heard of Wwoofing on this thread and think it is an amazing idea! I wish I had known about it years ago when I had more time to travel. I’m hoping to change my job this year so this is definitely something that I will be thinking about for the summer hols. Which websites do you recommend please? My son also has the travel bug so I think he’d be really open to it.


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