When you find out you will be a parent, one of the first things you begin pondering is your child’s education. We were just like other mainstream parents. We were certain we would send our children to public school, Department of Defense (DoD) schools, or maybe even private school. Gradually over the course of the first two years of our eldest son’s life, we became committed to “attempting to homeschool” — like we were test driving a car, shopping for options, testing my ability and confidence.
The Hippie Rabbit Hole
If you ask my husband how he has coped with the full change from mainstream adults, having been raised by mainstream adults and changing to the parents we are today, his response would be the hippie rabbit hole theory. (We are now home-birthing, cloth-diapering, breastfeeding, chemical-free parents, along with a host of other things often thought too controversial to discuss now.) Once we had our first unmedicated birth and successfully breastfed and cloth diapered, the other things were brought to our attention. He says it is like falling down a rabbit hole of extremes of which we now sit at the bottom of, waving at everyone who passes by.
When you are surrounded by people who do not do any of these things, it is harder to find information and support, but once you are exposed to it, you will see it everywhere. By the time our second son was born, a short 20 months after our first, I had never spent more than 5 hours away from my oldest child, and he had developed into this big personality who loved the outdoors. Putting him in a classroom seemed cruel to us, not because we disagree with mainstream schooling methods, but because of who he was. We just knew he would not be able to thrive indoors. Before this realization, we had every intention of sending him to school, even preschool, but those plans abruptly changed. In their place was a new question: What now? I have no desire to be a teacher. How do I do this and enjoy it?
From Homeschooling to Worldschooling
After three years of research, trial, and error, with several different curriculums, we have finally found a series of methods that work well for our family. Without getting too deep into different curriculums, I’ll just mention that daily we use the teachings of Charlotte Mason, Waldorf Steiner, and Maria Montessori. Our curriculum book list comes from the Global Village School, a secular homeschooling curriculum that we adore, and we wholeheartedly follow their thematic learning style.
I will be the first person to tell you that there is no one right way to homeschool, especially if you have more than one child. Each of my children learns very differently, which is why we use aspects from so many different methods. From Mason, we love the art of creating habits. From Steiner, the lack of clutter, the imaginative encouragement, the handicrafts, and fables. From Montessori, we have learned the art of play, the different variations of cognitive development, and the importance of self-exploration in the home and classroom. The Global Village School helps guide these ideas into categories that are important to our family principles (peace, equality, diversity, universal justice, and environmental awareness). We learned to love homeschooling through these outlets and then the leap of faith happened.
I like to think that worldschooling is saying yes to experiences and being open to allowing those experiences to teach your children, but on an international level. I have a very deeply rooted love of travel, culture, language, and views.
With a degree in anthropology, I find the study of people utterly fascinating. I want our children to know that love from their own experiences — to learn math from counting temple columns, to see primary colors become secondary colors when looking into the teal of the sea. The world is an exceptional classroom. Many lessons can only be taught by compromising your comfort levels when traveling. Though I homeschool our children while we travel, so many life lessons are learned each day.
I always knew that worldschooling was something I desperately wanted for our children, but it wasn’t until a year ago that I realized it was an actual thing. I found a large number of people trying to do the same thing. Some of them do it successfully full time, and some balance travel with having a home base. We will forever fall under the home base category due to the Marine Corps and the need for an income. We are at peace with this for now.
There are so many beautiful things about a home that knows your history. A home that has witnessed you birth babies and bake Christmas cookies. I love those things too, and that’s what we miss when traveling.
This Year’s School Year
It began last August with two hours a day of traditional homeschooling and perfecting our Charlotte Mason habits. We spent the early fall months checking off numerous domestic travel spots. From September to December the children and I covered nine states: Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, and North Carolina. Then we flew to Mexico City and took a bus from there to Guanajuato in January and February.
We returned to our home in North Carolina for five weeks to pack up, move out, and celebrate our now 4-year-old. On January 21, we flew from Baltimore to Iceland and then from Iceland to Amsterdam, where we spent the next two weeks learning about Dutch painters and tulips. From the Netherlands, we went by train to Hamburg, Germany, then onward to Denmark, where we enjoyed the rural beauty that surrounds the Lego House Experience and explored Copenhagen for another two weeks.
After a very fast month, we made our way to Athens, Greece and began our slow travel adventures. We are spending three months in Greece, between Athens and Crete. From here the plan is tentative, but will be something along the lines of: Italy for six weeks, Germany for a month, Spain for three weeks, and then back to Mexico. We’ll spend two months there before returning to the U.S. for Thanksgiving with family and to be reunited with our Marine who is returning three months before us.
Not every school year will be this internationally extensive, but the hope is to make an annual Mediterranean and Mexican trip to enhance the chance of the boys becoming bilingual or trilingual. There will be many long seasons of domesticity along the way —hopefully, a fourth baby who will ground us for a few months, military moves, and Christmas cookies to be baked and shared.
Adventure is in the eyes of the wanderer. It can take shape in the form of traveling to family, your favorite grocery store an hour away, or long weekends with the people you love. Our vision just happens to be worldwide.
Photo Credits: Lydia Bradbury