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Nov
14

How We Educate

Our children have never been to school. When we started our family we knew that homeschooling would be a part of our lives because it has always been our goal to travel. That was always a given with us but what we did not realize was that we would keep them out of school entirely. We did not know that travel would become intertwined with our educational philosophy and we certainly did not realize that there was a way to educate our children that did not mimic the type of institutionalized schooling my husband and I received.

Three years ago we were faced with the decision of whether to enroll our oldest child in Kindergarten only to pull him out when we were ready to travel or to just start homeschooling from the beginning. That was when we began to take a serious look at our options for education. I read everything I could get my hands on from the library, I contacted homeschooling groups in the area and met with homeschooling moms, and I scoured the Internet. The more I learned the more I felt that homeschooling from the start was the right decision for our family.

It wasn’t an easy decision for us to homeschool however. We agonized over it for months. We were still in the mind set of believing that without school our children might not be properly educated, that school was where children learned to socialize, and that we, as parents, were not equipped with the knowledge, training, or patience to facilitate learning. Now I know that all of my concerns were just my fears of not meeting societies expectations. I know that children hunger for knowledge, I would argue that children raised outside the school can be equally if not more socialized than those in the public system, and I hold a space for myself to know that I am perfectly capable of providing an environment for my children that is rich in learning, creating, and fostering curiosity.

Now entrenched in our third year of homeschooling, our own ever evolving philosophy on education has helped to shape the way we approach learning. If we must subscribe to a label we best fit with a type of homeschooling referred to as Unschooling. I’m not a big fan of the word as when people hear it they tend to think we are not learning anything or that we are unparenting. This is certainly not the case. We do not follow a set curriculum. Learning happens in a natural way and fits into our days without setting aside a certain time, completing a certain subject, or having any sort of external expectations.

When my children express an interest in something I help to facilitate a deeper understanding for them, be it by searching out new books to read, videos to watch, mentors to teach, supplies to create, or anything else I can think of. When something happens in our lives or we witness something new I try to follow up with that to deepen the learning.

The other night here in Thailand we had a big thunderstorm. The kids went out into the rain hooting and hollering and getting soaking wet. When they came back inside and dried off we watched a video on BrainPopJr.com on how rain clouds are formed. I feel as a homeschooling mother it is my job to look for opportunities to facilitate learning. I don’t take on the role of teacher but I do provide an environment of learning. If my child asks me a question we search out the answers together.

For us, unschooling does not mean that we don’t ever do workbooks, that we don’t ever practice our math skills, that we don’t seek out mentors and put our children in formal classes. We do all of those things. What it does mean is that I don’t expect them to learn anything at a predetermined time. I don’t believe that when it comes to learning there is some magical age appropriate topic that you must study when you reach a certain age or that learning can only be obtained through workbooks, textbooks, and tests.

To me, unschooling means that you educate outside of the box, that you use the resources, the community, and the real life opportunities that surround you to raise curious, knowledge-seeking children.

Volcano science experiment

The world is our teacher. The term worldschooling appeals to me much more than the word unschooling. It closely describes our educational philosophy which is to use travel as a way to educate. We are providing our children with real world opportunities to learn by slowly traveling and immersing ourselves in a new country or area for six months of the year.  I believe that travel is the best teacher there is, for children and adults alike.

For us the lust to travel came before the inspiration to home educate, but those two desires are now fully intertwined. We want to raise our children as global citizens.  Through travel they can experience different cultures first hand.  Geography, history, religion, artistry, music, languages, and yes, even math come alive and have meaning when you are experiencing them instead of reading about them.

So, at least for now, that is how we educate.  We worldschool!

Disclaimer: I want to make it clear that we are not anti-school or saying that the way we choose to educate is the best way. There are many great schools out there and I do think for some families’ school is the right choice. It is just not the right choice for us at this point in our lives.

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19 comments

6 pings

  1. Jennifer Miller says:

    GREAT! I love it! Such a good description of what and how you do what you do with your kids and I’ve loved getting to be a small part of it! :)

  2. Living Outside of the Box says:

    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing, Amy!! The more we do this…the more I can see the affects traveling/learning has on my kids…and the more I want to keep going and going and going!!

  3. Renee says:

    What a fantastic education for your boys! Thanks for posting. I love reading about how other roadschooling families are handling education in the big wide world. :-)

    1. worldschooled says:

      Thanks Renee!

  4. Melanie Murrish says:

    Great post-we already unschool and are making plans to travel by reading and connecting with all you inspiring famillies out there-thanks so much.

    1. worldschooled says:

      Awe, thank you. Good luck in your adventures!!!!!

  5. april says:

    beautifully written post – thank you.
    it is so exciting to see other people pursuing the path that has become so dear to me and my family.

    i have 2 boys (ages 14 and 19), and we have been homeschooling/unschooling since my oldest was in preschool (this is our 16th year!).

    we have traveled to many locations around the globe for several years now, but have always maintained a permanent residence.
    three years ago, we started living in 3 different places throughout the year (including buenos aires, argentina).
    and, four months ago, we put our house/property on the market and plan to begin traveling even more once it sells.

    my 19yo is currently unschooling college. :)
    he’s taken several online courses in the areas of computer science, animation, computer graphics, and sculpture classes.
    and he is about to go on his first solo journey to singapore (in just 11 days).

    i look forward to reading about more of your family’s adventures.

    1. worldschooled says:

      I love hearing how people unschool in the older years. I have no idea how it is going to work out for our family later on…we are just taking it one year at a time, but I love that your son is unschooling college!

  6. Alyson says:

    Lovely! We are in our second year of homeschooling and its been fabulous, we are kind of the other way round to you, homeschooling has given us back what we didn’t think we’d be able to do again. Travel, to really travel. I thought we’d have to sit still because school is important isn’t it? Pah! Not at all. Homeschooling is awesome. Worldschooling is even better.

    1. worldschooled says:

      Totally. It was hard for me to get my head around the thought of homeschooling/worldschooling when we first started out but when you see it in action it makes a whole lot of sense!

  7. Fives OnTheFly says:

    Our family is just starting our traveling / homeschooling lifestyle, and it was inspiring to read about your experiences as a family. I like how you put the emphasis on “facilitator” as opposed to “teacher.” We stressed a bit this fall with our oldest being of kindergarten age, but in the end we have also found that opportunities for learning abound without having to schedule or limit them to a particular block of time.

    1. worldschooled says:

      It is hard not to compare with what society tells us our children should be learning and doing at a certain age. I still have my moments when I compare. But there are more moments where I look at my kids and what they are doing and think; Holy Crap! They would never have this opportunity in school!

  8. Kirsty says:

    Great post – your kids are going to have a great education! The thing I have found with our home education is you just can’t stop it happening!

  9. wandering educators says:

    Love this – there’s SO MUCH to learn from the world!

  10. Elizabeth says:

    AMAZING!!! I am so tempted to do this with my 13 year old!!! He has started junior school this year and is just getting too distracted and not working!! lookout boarding school!!…xxx

  11. Shannon says:

    Agreed! We also homeschool/unschool/worldschool and couldn’t imagine any other way. Great post.

  12. Susan says:

    Love what you are all doing and I too believe in natural learning methods..especially worldschooling!! I hope we can do that soon. Keep on posting your stories and the great photos. It’s very encouraging to see other families traveling the world and giving their kids such a rich and fulfilling lifestyle.

    1. worldschooled says:

      Thank you Susan!

  13. Laura Grace Weldon says:

    What a wonderful glimpse of your learning lives. I’ll be sharing it!

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