Life is very much what you make of it. You get one chance. We are all balancing (sometimes more of a ricochet) between children’s needs, extended family wants/needs, jobs, finances, freedom vs obligations, etc. Many people are beginning to realize that the rat race of making money, building careers, saving for retirement, having nice cars, houses, amenities and running yourself ragged from soccer games, gymnastics, tennis, piano lessons is not working out for us. We’ve lost the family connections, the quality time, the united goal that family’s used to share. The more you work to pay for more activities to make sure your children are “well rounded” and have more training and opportunities than you did as a child is sometimes depriving that child from what they need most, the love and attention from a parent.
We, like most families, were both working full time careers. Both being self employed, we often did not control the work hours we had to commit to keep the ball in the air. We were frugal, dreamed of traveling together, and planned on parenting our children rather than “sponsoring a child” and working to pay others to raise our kids while we worked some more. This was not exactly how things were turning out, so we took a step back and made some plans.
We ran the gamut of educational paths available. Initially, we used public schools, which were good and we liked them. But I often worked nights, weekends and holidays, so if the kids were in school during weekdays, we never had time together. We began pulling them out for family experiences together and became exceedingly truant. Some teachers appreciated this and would have the children present their experiences to the class, others frowned on it and punished the children with piles of late work. I truly felt that the children benefited so much more from having time in the real world and close to their family. I loved when they would get to make presentations after and we could print pictures and tell stories to those children less fortunate. But this opportunity was not universal.
After some massive truancy notices with threats of discipline, we decided to take a different approach. I began to homeschool the children through a public school forum. We’d meet once every few weeks with the teacher and she’d “check our progress.” Then they could do enrichment activities with other kids in the school once per week which were simply fun, hands on learning opportunities. I loved this platform, except meeting with the teachers (who were wonderful, well intended people). My children excel in math, science and physical skills. They are more lacking in the reading/writing category. This led to a lot of stress trying to meet their expectations of us at our meetings. My son would be in tears that he had to do his writing. Have you ever tried to force someone to write to please a third party??? What a miserable position to be in. You simply can’t force someone to write, especially when they’re in tears and frustrated. We tried positive rewards, punishments, but nothing was working. The teacher said we were on probation and had to come in weekly. I just didn’t have this in my schedule to drive across town just to show her how little we’d been able to accomplish, thus spending another half of a day per week away from productive activities. This was a good option to help me transition comfortably to home schooling. I’m not sure I would have taken the step without the backing of the public school system initially, but I’m glad we did. My husband was World Schooled through high school, traveling to South America on a boat, then successfully attended college, so for him it was an obvious step.
At this point, some of our travel plans were coming together. We bought a very rugged and inexpensive rotting wood boat. I cannot describe the condition, the link is to the youtube sales video. My husband moved to the boat yard and spent days and nights fixing her up so we could launch her and go cruising. I was working full time, had an au pair, and was otherwise alone with the children most of the time. We dropped the public based homechooling system and essentially deschooled so we could all decompress from the stress of trying to please others, which was driving a wedge into our relationships.
After about 9 months of intense activity saving, building the boat, working full time, raising children, and giving birth to our 6th child, the boat was done and launched. We moved out of our house, rented it out, and moved onboard. I did not return to full time work after maternity leave. As we got into our rhythms, we began homeschooling again. Little bits at a time, we added in letters, numbers, reading, math. Being on a boat, we were surrounded by science and I rarely made any effort to teach science, but the kids were learning it anyway. I was making the curriculum based on their interests and progress. There was no pushing, just gentle encouragement. And it was working!!! It was finally not stressful AND I was seeing progress. And we weren’t truant, failing, or on probation. There were no tears, yelling or push back. I was seeing my children asking questions and being inquisitive. They were learning HOW to learn!! Eureka!! We’ve found it!
Two months later, we sailed out of the United States and began traveling abroad. Our World School adventure officially began!! We were picking up little bits of languages, experiencing new cultures, new ways of life, new solutions to age old problems!! It is always a work in progress. They can always learn more, engage more, read better, do higher math, whatever your goal. But they are both actively and passively learning so much more than any concrete schoolhouse could teach and expose them to. I highly encourage ALL families to do experiential, hands on learning in whatever capacity they are able to. Sometimes it’s only a day trip to a museum, sometimes it’s a move across the globe. They are all excellent opportunities for learning for children. And often you’ll find that as adults we learn so much more than the kids do through these processes. Such a healthy interaction for all parties involved!!!!!
This site is a resource for ALL families seeking information about World School, no matter what your level of commitment or involvement. Every trip to the grocery store is a chance for hands on learning – math skills, weights, sizes, shapes, colors, nutrition, body parts, etc. Some people have completely committed to the lifestyle, sold everything for a life on the road to experience new things and learn from them as they go. Others are just looking into it. Where to start? How to pay for it? They may have trained hard for their careers and don’t want to simply quit everything and disconnect from the world, but see some shortcomings in their current situation that could be enhanced through travel and a focus on experiences together and learning along the way. Here we have a supportive community to share information about travel, education, financing, inspiration, ask questions and more! Welcome to the community!