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Family: Homeschooling: the truck as classroom

A trucking career usually means brief glimpses of your kids, right? Not in the case of Vicky and Dave Bennison of Welland, Ont.Dave drives the Eastern Seaboard for Challenger Motor Freight, making two...


A trucking career usually means brief glimpses of your kids, right? Not in the case of Vicky and Dave Bennison of Welland, Ont.

Dave drives the Eastern Seaboard for Challenger Motor Freight, making two or three trips a week.

Three years ago, when their oldest child was about to start kindergarten, Dave and his son DJ were making a snowman in their backyard.

He suddenly realized that with his odd shifts he wouldn’t be able to spend much quality time with his kids if they were in school.

Dave and Vicky talked it over and hit on home schooling as a solution. “We didn’t start out planning to home school,” says Vicky. “It’s taken some thinking out of the box, but the cab of the truck is a classroom, too.”

Dave agrees. “I bet there aren’t too many seven- and eight-year-olds that know how to get to New York City and get around down there.”

Of course, the education process for Jessie and DJ involves a lot more than riding along with dad in the big truck (they get to accompany him sometimes in the summer).

For the most part, their curriculum follows Ministry of Education guidelines.

Ironically, the children want to be graded. “DJ demands that I give him a mark,” says Vicky.

“The kids are big into Canadian studies right now, so we’ve got a trip planned to Eastern Canada to see some places.”

Both parents are happy with the results. “They’re doing well,” says Dave. “They’re probably a grade ahead.”

The Bennisons are conscious of the children’s need to socialize. The two attend a home school club in Welland once a week, and take karate and ballet lessons.

“There’s no one way to home school,” says Vicky. “It’s a different option. One of the parents has to be able to stay home with the kids.”

Dave adds that home-schoolers are a lot like truck drivers. “You have to be fairly independent.”

Also, a good track record at Challenger (he’s never been late for a delivery and he’s also pulling double duty as a driver-trainer) cuts him some slack.

“I’ve never been away on a Halloween, and that’s important,” says the 32 year old father.

“This is a case of being able to put the family first and I’m proof that it can happen.”


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