World School simply involves learning from the world around you. We all do it. We interact with our environment and learn from it daily. If we are mindful about the process, there’s a massive amount we can learn every day! If we tread with our head down, one foot in front of the other, and do our daily “routine,” we miss many educational opportunities.
Now that we’ve established that we all World School to some extent, the question really is “How much emphasis would you like to put on your World School?” The answer is a very personal decision, so I won’t be able to answer that here for you. Sometimes you are a very intent and purposeful learner seeking out new knowledge, and sometimes you are just going about your daily activities and incidentally learn something. The process is on a dynamic continuum and always changing. The first thing to look at are your values.
Do you value time with your children?
The answer for most of us is going to be “yes.” As we get further into it, you may ultimately admit that too much time together and they begin to drive you crazy. Kids have TONS of energy and that is to be admired!! Admired and channeled. Most people who have taken the leap into homeschooling have actually realized that children’s behavior changes for the better when they are getting as much or more of your attention than they wish for. They are no longer jockeying to get your ear or your complete focus. Especially now with all the digital distractions, it’s hard to be mindful of giving children your undivided attention. When you become their educator and focus on what makes them tick, they are getting that attention they are looking for. You will also find that with a more consistent presence and guidance that children’s behavior begins to improve.
World School families have also set up networks where parents will take other kids on “play dates” or educational journeys, giving their parents a little personal time. Say your friend is a geologist, maybe she can take the kids on a hike looking at the different types of rocks and showing them. Then you can take the kids for a cooking lesson while she has some time to take care of other things. Win-win. Kids are learning and having fun and parents are getting a little personal time. Kids are also getting social interactions with new people. And at the end of the day you probably have pockets full of rocks, some baked goods to eat, and some tired children who will sleep well. If you aren’t currently traveling with a World School family, you can arrange Meet-Ups in the Classified section.
What do you do for work?
Let’s be realistic. We don’t all have large bank accounts to live off of. We need to produce something and contribute to our society and in exchange we are usually given money as a common currency of exchange that we can use to purchase goods and services we want or need.
If you have trained a lifetime for your career or built up a business over a number of years, you may not be ready to simply walk away from it all. Are you going to run your business from afar while you travel? Are you able to begin stepping back and homeschooling while you train a manager? Or will you continue to run the business and World School locally with shorter journeys to expand your horizons? Maybe you can set up an arrangement with a partner to work for 6 months and have 6 months off? Other people take a one year or two year sabbatical to free up their time, then return to their careers. These are things you have to explore. What is important to you? How would you like for it to work? How can you get to that point?
Maybe you have more of a job than a career. Can you find a way to become location independent? If you provide a service, or knowledge, can you do it online as well as in person? Can you do it along your journey? Check out our comprehensive list of ways people fund their travel.
What about your home?
Do you own or rent? Do you want to stay where you are, maybe family is near or your career, and take shorter excursions? Or maybe have a home base to come back to after a sabbatical? Do you want to sell it all and be more free? Or do you want to keep the house as an investment for your future as well as a monthly rental income? Look at the pros and cons of selling your home before making this big decision, then consider the pros and cons if you think you want to rent it out.
If you choose to leave your house, you will still need shelter for yourself and your family. Do you have a plan? Do you have a budget? Maybe the rental income from your house can afford you a certain amount each month for accommodations? First thing to do is to set your budget. You can always go under, but you end up with a problem if you go over. If you have $1000/month for renting places, try to find something for $900 or less. This allows you more flexibility. If you end up with a $1050 place that’s PERFECT, realize that you are going to have to give up something else to make up that difference. Is it worth it to you?
The more flexible you are, the more options you get! Check out our Accommodations section of the Travel Directory. Maybe a House Swap would work for you to keep your home base, but give you broader horizons. Or house sitting could save you the cost of your accommodation for the month allowing you to do some tours while you’re visiting the new location. If you are willing to bounce around a little, couch surfing allows you to meet locals in any given area, live for free, and see many places. But you are always being hosted and sometimes this can wear on your ability to get good rest in the long run.
Some people move onto a boat or an RV. This solves the housing issue, you’ve simply moved to a house that’s mobile. Then you’re always home, your cost of living is usually more affordable than a stick built house, and you can follow your pursuits and interests while always being home.
So basically, what will you do with your current living situation – stay, move, rent, sell? And where are you going?
What curriculum would you use?
Are you planning to stay where you are and continue your current school plan? Maybe you can purposefully include some outings. Do a treasure hunt around your neighborhood. Go up to the mountains the see the snow and discuss the phases of matter, or the beach to learn about tide-pools and chart the creatures you see. Add some easy and fun science experiments to supplement your curriculum.
Will your children be taking a sabbatical from school for one year and return the following year? If so, you may want to keep them on the same curriculum and schedule. Are you concerned that you won’t be ready or able to home school? Maybe wean yourself to home school with a home based public or private program with external resources and external grading procedures and see how it goes. Often people will indicate that, in retrospect, they hung on to this step too long in their journey, as in our family highlight with the Shaw Family. But if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of producing a curriculum and schedule and aren’t embracing unschooling, this is a great mid-range option and it works for many people to stay here and incorporate interactive experiences into this curriculum style.
Some people choose to homeschool whether or not travel is a significant part of their lives or curriculum. There are many wonderful curriculums designed around various educator’s concepts of development and learning styles. Or you can make your own curriculum as you go and pull relevant activities from different sources depending on your children’s experiences and interests and use those to help build concepts. Children are natural learners! Society teaches us to worry significantly about our children’s education, and it is important, but you will find that they will absorb so much and so fast in a stimulating environment. Being mindful of their journey and aware of their needs is beneficial, but it’s not necessary to be following check lists and ditto sheets to “stay on target” with the public schools and the “common core” to have successful and well educated children.
Are you going to incorporate travel into your educational plan?
Will your trips be quick vacation style trips or slow travel? Will you be integrating into a village, staying in a local house and eating traditional foods or staying in a hotel and engaging in tours? How much time will you have? What will your budget be? Will you have a savings and travel until the budget is gone or do you have a steady monthly income and just need to live below that level? Consider the pros and cons of the different modes of travel in your decision and consider what would suit your family best.
Do you have any limitations or restrictions? If you travel, will you need a strong internet signal, cell phone or email contact? Do your children have any special needs? Asthma, diabetes, mobility equipment, educational tools?
Do you have family support?
This can be a big problem. Often our extended family is our support structure. If anything were to go wrong, who would you turn to? Sometimes extended family can be very hard on World School families as they announce their departures. Suggesting things like “you are being selfish,” “you are endangering your children’s lives,” and “you are throwing away their education.” While we know this is not true, it can be very hurtful. It comes from a place of fear, especially a fear of the unknown. Maybe you want to sit down with them and show them how you came to your decision to travel. Show them the Success Stories of the many people who have World Schooled and are thriving in the world now because of their education. Read family blogs of people who are out traveling with their children and discuss the opportunity this presents for children to understand. Try to get them to open up about their true concerns, and address them with facts. The fact is that children are living all around the world and surviving. It’s unlikely you will choose to travel to war torn areas where there is significant risks, but you may choose to go somewhere after a natural disaster strikes and help do relief work. Is the risk more than the benefit? Imagine how much personal value and appreciation the child can gain through such an experience!! Sure there’s Zika in some areas, but is that the worst disease out there? Will children not fall ill in their home countries? Or is this just a disease of the day concern and will soon blend into the many things our immune system must face as we approach life. Is the flu safer? We cannot prevent every disease in our children and by putting them in a bubble to avoid exposure, we are doing them harm. If we are living to avoid exposure to illnesses, we should certainly NEVER send that child to public school!!!
Try to address your families’ concerns, but if you can’t, you can’t. Keep it positive and be proud of how you present yourself. Don’t get into an argument about why you’re right. If you feel confident with your decision for your family, you may have to go and live the dream and prove them wrong. But try to set up a plan to maintain your relationships via Skype, What’sApp, email, facebook, or whatever method. Our more digital world is making it easier and easier to stay in touch world wide. The relationship does not need to change, but should not limit your ability to go and experience. Try to prioritize connections. Maybe fly home once a year for a face to face visit if that’s possible. Maybe your family can come visit you?
Do you have any custody issues to address?
If you have any custody issues, these can be a sticky mess. The only advice is that the courts want to see minimal “disturbance” or “change” for the kids. So if you’re traveling already, you’ve chartered boats on numerous occasions or RV’d for months on end, you already homeschool, then you asking to “take your show on the road” and go internationally (usually the only time you need court permission), you have established a habit or lifestyle for your family that is not being disrupted. There is no way to give advice for every situation, but always keep the child’s best interests in mind and try not to let them become a pawn.
On a final note, there will never be a perfect time to go. If you wait until your kids are grown, your parents will be ailing and need you. If you wait until you’re financially set, YOU may be too old and ailing. There’s always a reason to stay. More than likely that will be the path of least resistance. But the rewards are significant if you take the extra leap and use your once in a lifetime life to do something extra-ordinary with it!!
While we do not have all the answers, but we will dive in to each topic into more detail throughout this site. One of the best ways to evaluate how people do things and what will work for you is talking to people who are out doing it. Then trial and error. Life is a journey. The challenge is knowing when to follow and when to lead. But do not hesitate to make your life journey a once in a lifetime opportunity!!