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A guest post by Stacey Robbins
Have you ever had one of those days…
I mean months…
I mean years…
Before I share the wonky stuff, let me introduce myself: I’m Stacey Robbins – I’m an Author, Speaker, Integrated Wellness Coach and Certified Yoga Instructor, by trade. I’m wife to Rock, and mom to Caleb (14) and Seth (12) by love.
We hail from Southern California (I’m a transplant from the North East) and loved so much of our unconventional life by the beach.
I say unconventional because I’ve been treating life like a big experiment since I was diagnosed with an autoimmune dis-ease 20 years ago. Having your life go sideways in your health makes you look at life from that different angle. It’s pretty interesting to go from being focused on matching furniture, making lots of money as a professional musician/vocalist (my previous career) and wanting to be skinny – to just wanting to be alive.
It wasn’t a fast process. The diagnosis ended up leading me to the point where even being alive wasn’t enough – I really wanted peace, because the truth was: I didn’t have it and I wanted to know where it was hidden.
Like the old story of the golden Buddha that was covered in tar right in the midst of the people searching hardest for it, I have discovered (and am still discovering) it is right in our midst.
On the way to that unfolding revelation, we’ve done things like living without a TV for the better part of 18 years, having only 10 items of clothing in our closets, (each), and turning off almost all the breakers in our house so we could see what effects low electricity and indoor camping would have on our life.
We’re not those cool, crunchy granola people – and we’re not the mainstream, up-to-date-on-the-current-celebrities people either. We’re probably somewhere in between: Where I buy the mostly organic everything and my husband occasionally runs the kids through McDonald’s – then tells me after…
It’s been not boring, our family’s and friends have looked at us like we’re the kooky ones and we’ve learned a lot about what matters most to us. I’m still on the computer a lot with a slight addiction to Facebook, and other more processed living kinds of things, but you know…it’s a journey.
It’s our journey.
Ah yes, back to our journey and the year that got us here…
2015 was a weird year: The unresolved bullying issues at our beloved Waldorf school led to my then 12 year-old, Caleb, pulling himself out and sitting home with me, trembling during the day and not leaving my side and then, at night, would have to sleep sitting up because he’d throw up acid while he was sleeping.
The stress had been too much. I had sent a lovely, intuitive, super smart, sensitive kid to a school we loved so much – and got back someone who felt broken.
It is so much harder to heal a child than it is to raise a child…
My heart was aching daily while I cared for him and worked at home with my writing and coaching clients when my husband informed me that his division was sold and everyone was losing his job.
He was the team lead and therefore one of the last to go, but before he was done had to work 15-hour days while being on call and doing what a whole team used to do. So stressful.
He came home from where he had worked for 8 years, fried like the little burnt French fry hiding in the corner of the bag, and 2 weeks later, our then 11 year-old got injured in soccer and ended up in a wheelchair for nearly 2 ½ months.
It was a lot.
So stressful. So much.
The pickle on our sundae was when our landlord informed us that the darling condo we had been renting and we had endured all the noises of construction for 2 years, was going to be increased by 600 dollars a month now that construction was done.
So much to heal in our family…now, including me.
My health condition doesn’t thrive in stress, in fact, it kind of devolves and I found myself having my own version of PTSD by the time November hit and my husband still hadn’t found work and the pressure to maintain our unconventional life was falling solely on me.
Aren’t I supposed to be the author who talks about how to play and win the mental game?
Don’t I always tell my readers and my clients to keep up their self-care during the hard times?
What the hell is happening to my life?
Once I got done with the three weeks of woe-is-me and muttering under my breath every swear word I ever knew while scrubbing my baseboards ‘til they squeaked (did I mention I’m Italian and we clean when we’re upset??)
I sat myself down in my meditation time and said these words,
“I’m the grown-up in the room. No one is going to save me from this. I’m 100% responsible for my life.”
Big ol’ hairy sigh…
See, I had to clear the space and shift out of the anger and frustration and blame (which is totally normal and fine to have in the process, but is super destructive to live in, long term) and I had to get back to my inspiration place.
Taking responsibility to make my life happen was crucial for me. I started seeing that all of these situations were taking me off of auto-pilot and giving me the opportunity to return to center so that I could ask myself these important questions:
Who am I?
What am I here to do?
What would I be doing if money and opportunity were no object?
I started dreaming, “I’d pack up life in So Cal for a little while and go on a road trip across the US and hold workshops and gatherings for the women who have bought my books and want to take life to the next level. Then, I’d take my family and fly to Europe, bringing them all to Florence – a city that breathes inspiration and healing to me. After a time of rest and healing for all of us, I’d start writing a new book about my unconventional life.”
So, that’s what I did: Each day and night, I went into my meditative place and imagined my life traveling. I began reading blogs about travel hacking, credit cards with rewards, airlines with inexpensive flights and more…And, best of all, my friends turned me on to this wonderful Worldschool FB group (thank you, FB addiction) that Lainie Liberti started. Day after day, and middle of the night when I’d wake up, I’d go on and read about other adventurous families shifting their lives to using travel as a means of learning.
It strengthened me and made me so happy.
Happiness is a great place for inspiration.
In fact, that’s an important point I really want to make: I didn’t birth this from my frustration – if I had, it would have been reactive like,
“I have to leave. Life is falling apart.”
“This place doesn’t make me happy; happiness is everywhere but here.”
I knew too much to do that. I wasn’t looking to leave – I was looking to go —
toward my dreams,
and toward my inspiration.
I had no delusion that this life would be better and that all my problems, aches and pains in my heart, mind or body would disappear…that’s not how it works.
Because even though we only packed enough to fit into a backpack, those things we’re running away from seem to have this magical ability to sneak in to our bags and travel with us.
They’re invisible, but they’re heavy.
And as the saying goes, those heavy things remain with us until we’ve learned what they’re there to teach us.
I brought the family into the conversation, “It’s been a weird year. Would anyone like to go on a Magical, Healing Adventure?”
I laid out my dream and everyone was all-in.
Until, you know, it came time to pack…
I had to keep the vision while we parted with things we thought we needed…I kept telling the boys, “We sell these things, we get our plane tickets. We sell those items, we get our Airbnb…”
I had to keep the vision going. They didn’t yet have the vision, they were feeling emotions and excited but I had the vision. I was the leader. I was the grown-up in the room. I chose this and all the discomfort, emotions and crankiness that comes with shifting your life…
I had to keep reminding myself of that.
As I planned my book tour, names would come to me during my meditation times – “Send an e-mail to Keri, Alycia and Lindsey in Phoenix…” I did. They were not only excited to hold a workshop, but to provide the hotel room while we were there.
Every day, I’d get names coming to me from the community and I’d reach out.
Every single person around the country said, “Yes.” And then, added the bonus of, “And we’d love to host you, cook for you, show you around…”
Oh my god. It was a parade of yes’s.
Our road trip was falling into place.
Friends came and helped us pack: Just the right people at just the right time.
Friends handed us Visa gift cards or an envelope with cash or surprised us with a Paypal donation to our efforts.
The boys got gigs playing their violin and cello for our spiritual community. They got paid handsomely and it all went into their Magical, Healing Adventure jar.
By the time we left on February 29th – the Leap year date when we took our big leap, we were ready.
We felt loved, supported, inspired and ready.
We started my book/speaking tour: Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and New Jersey – and all the states in between. The boys made new friends, met family members they had never met, learned how ride ATV’s, shoot pellet guns, learned Encaustic painting, went to science museums and experienced so many loving friends and pets, that their hearts were full.
I worked hard and served our community with the events and coaching. My husband carried the heavy weight of almost all the driving and packing and repacking the car (we had more than a backpack each for the drive. Much more.)
And at the end of 12 events in 5 weeks, across 5200 miles, we got on a plane and headed to Europe.
Just like I had dreamed.
And now, we’re here. I’m writing you from Florence, Italy. We’ve been here four weeks and have a few more left before heading on to who knows where.
A lot of stuff has come up in the first few weeks: The hurt that the boys are dealing with. Fussiness between them from some of the wounds they experienced at their schools and the trusts that were broken because, you know…we usually save the ickiest, most aching parts to take out on family. The bumps of not having friends or language barriers here have also come up.
My heart has hurt, in between the jet lag and head colds and this autoimmune thing, to see the boys struggle to find their way back home to who they are. To the peace that’s in their soul…hiding right in their midst – which is their journey to discover and my privilege to support.
After a month, things are settling. Their frustration time is passing just like mine did in Southern California, and they’re starting to dream:
What they want to have in their lives, instead of what’s hurting them from their past. I’ve been telling them stories about all that we’ve manifested and the power we have to manifest what we want for our future and our right now.
They can hear that differently now.
Seth said, “I want to do modeling. And one day I want to own an airplane and an airport.” He’s always told me he was going to be ‘more than a millionaire’ and ‘do something to end world hunger.’
He’s dreaming again.
Caleb said, “I want to be in the open space of nature. That’s where I belong. I want to work with my hands, breathe in fresh air and use my imagination. That just sounds right to me.”
I smiled. Because I saw that Lainie has an amazing Project World School in Wales and Dublin, building an organic farm for almost a month in August. I reached out to her, asking questions to see if anyone had offered a scholarship for an eager teen, and thanking her for all her inspiration. She had no idea how much a part of this manifesting that she and the Worldschool community have been to our family so, I told her some of our story and how we dramatically shifted our lives within four months. She was so inspired and asked me to share it with you, so that you can be inspired too.
This is where we are: In Florence, Italy, on our Magical, Healing Adventure. We don’t really know what’s next, but what we do know is that we are going to keep coming back to those key questions of
“Who am I?”
“What am I here to do?
“What would I do, if money and opportunity were no object.”
And we’re going to do our very best, taking responsibility for our life and living in partnership with this Abundant Universe,
to live from that place of vision
and to make our
Sending you so much love as you live from that place, too.
You can do it!
Would you like to support Caleb? He is excited about making this dream of Project World School a reality and needs to raise the 4000. dollars plus travel to get there. If you would like to help his dream come true, thank you! He is accepting pledges and support. Please send a private message here if you’d like to chat more. Grazie!
Stacey Robbins (www.staceyrobbins.com) is an Author, Speaker and Integrated Wellness Coach. Her book, You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone, (Amazon) addresses how we can use our circumstances to turn our lives into gold.Her husband, Rock Robbins, is the male voice to the autoimmune conversation: www.marriedtohashimotos.com: www.marriedtohashimotos.com. Stacey and Rock are on a Magical, Healing Adventure with their sons, Caleb and Seth, while she writes her new book, “An Unconventional Life.”
Worldschooling, what the heck is that?
A guest post by Jessica Sueiro
That is exactly what I thought when I started exploring alternative education options for our daughter. It sounded cool, but what did it actually mean? Would we be jet setting to exotic islands, drinking martinis (us, not her) and calling it world schooling because we were traveling? Would she be memorizing all the countries on each continent and then regurgitating them back to us? Would she master Mandarin and then move on to Hebrew? Well, I was bound and determined to find out what this worldschooling thing meant. My child requested to be homeschooled / worldschooled and as her parent I felt that I owed it to her to broaden my horizons, fight my fears and step outside the box.
And I (we) did, oh boy did we ever.
What we discovered in the process was an education philosophy that perfectly aligned with what we had always searched for in a school: a global approach to education. We also discovered that we were already worldschooling when we vacationed, but slow travel would bring us to a whole new level of worldschooling. We fell madly in love and we have not looked back since.
What I appreciate most about worldschooling is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. I have met families in the US who have never travel, but make it a priority to educate their children about the world through a very specific curriculum selection. I have met families who take advantage of every cultural event they can get their hands on within their community, again without traveling. I have met families who change countries every several years and enroll their children in local schools across the globe. I have met families who are unschooling-worldschoolers who travel the world letting their children naturally absorb the culture for which they are currently living in. And I have met families who have their children in very traditional, same gender, parochial schools, but travel every summer in order to show their kids that the world stretches beyond their school. As you can see this world schooling education path has many options, but the one constant I always see is the importance placed on learning about the world and its people. Magic!
Before we get too deep into this I want to give you a little background about our family.
We are the Sueiro family from all over the US (we have moved a lot), but most recently from Cambridge, Massachusetts. We set out on a one-year adventure to Costa Rica in order to immerse our children in a rich culture and to spend copious amounts of time together. Well, long story short, we loved it. We had always fantasized about switching countries every year or two with our children, but we never thought it was theoretically possible. Guess what? It is, we did it. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears (lots of tears), but the outcome has been a life we thought was only obtainable in our dreams or for the uber wealthy, which we are not. Today we currently call Quito, Ecuador home. We have chosen to worldschool our daughter, as her request and traditional school our son. Our choice to keep our son in a traditional setting was to give him more time to develop his second language (French). When he is 10 he will have the option to be worldschooled as well. Although we still believe he is worldschooled, just in a different capacity.
When we first started on this path to alternative education I thought we would be straight up homeschoolers, whatever that meant. Well I learned quickly that we had many options on this alternative education path and we did not need to limit ourselves. We are what you would call eclectic worldschoolers.
We have customized a program for our daughter that covers all the areas we (and she) feel are important on this worldschooling journey. She has a combination of the following: classes taught by my husband, classes taught by me, classes online (with kids from all over the globe), French and Spanish classes in Quito, weekly meet ups with her world schooling group (mostly Ecuadorian families), tennis and ice skating with kids in the community, theatre at the French Alliance and much more. In addition we adventure within Ecuador every Saturday, plus take many weekend and weeklong trips. These adventures offer us a deeper look into the culture, language and people of Ecuador. So as you can see we have a very eclectic approach to alternative education, but one that lets both of our children learn globally as we travel. On any given day they may be interacting online with kids from all over the world, meeting in person with local Ecuadorian children or performing with their French theatre group, all while being immersed in the Ecuadorian culture.
Although our son attends a brick and mortar school we believe he is also being world schooled, but in a different way. He is exposed to the customs and traditions of the Ecuadorian families in a French language setting while at school. He spends his day flipping between Spanish and French while interacting with local kids. And when his school day is done he joins his sister for activities within the community that include skating, guitar and theatre. In addition, he accompanies us on all of our adventures in Quito and beyond. It can be challenging living in two vastly different learning environments, but what I particularly love is that both of them share what they have learned in their journeys.
Just the other day Largo was explaining the liberation of the different cities in Ecuador to Avalon and she was explaining Forensic Science to him. Like I said before, there are many different ways to worldschool, you just need to find the path that fits your style.
Another part of our worldschooling philosophy is to “say yes” as much as financially and physically possible. By “saying yes” we have been able to grow our knowledge and understanding of the world through a variety of cultural experiences. We value these experiences just as much (if not more) as the online class work that Avalon is involved in. We truly believe that children learn when they are engaged in a situation more than if they are reading a dry textbook.
Below are some examples of the kids “say yes” experiences:
• They have ventured onto the beaches of Tortugero National Park (in Costa Rica) under the cover of darkness (with a guide of course) to watch the Green turtle lay her eggs.
• They have stood in the southern and northern hemisphere at the same time while getting a hands on science class about the forces at the equator.
• They have night hiked through the rainforests of Costa Rica, which has brought them face to foot with tarantulas, scorpions, poisonous snakes, monkeys and all kinds of birds.
• They have gone on a poisonous snake hunt in rural India.
• They have learned about the love story surrounding the Taj Mahal while sitting at the base of this magnificent structure.
• They have ziplined through the cloud forests of Monteverde while learning about the local vegetation, biodiversity and preservation.
• They have visited more animal rescue centers than I can count.
• They have learned about the medical uses of plants in Costa Rica from a local farmer. Plus, shared a home cooked meal with him and his family.
• They have hiked until they wanted to collapse and then looked deep into the crater of an active volcano in Nicaragua.
• They have volunteered with children and animals in various countries for unlimited amounts of time.
• They have had to come out of their comfort zone regarding accommodations, transportation and food on so many occasions.
• Not knowing a word of Spanish, Avalon joined a local dance group in Costa Rica performing traditional dances. This provided us with a network of local families who embraced Avalon and our family as we started our journey in Costa Rica.
So, as you can see they have had some amazing global experiences through our worldschooling path. And I have barely touched on the people we have met along the way. Oh, the people. We have been extended kindness from families who clearly have much less than us. This is the true beauty of our worldschooling journey…the kindness of strangers and what they bring to the table is just enlightening. Again, magic!
We started eclectic world schooling Avalon a year ago. Have we found our groove? Yes and no, like with anything in life. We have had to make some modifications along the way in order to align with her personality and learning style.
In the beginning we were way too rigid in our approach. I had said that we did not want to recreate a school setting, but in essence our structure was too confining for this creative, kinesthetic learner. Once we loosened the reigns a bit and she focused a little more the planets aligned, but it is never a perfect science and neither is traditional school. I have a child in each world; therefore I can honestly say each have their own set of benefits and challenges. As for this year, we have had to make some adjustments as well. Now that she is in middle school the academic side of her education has become a little more rigorous. As a result, we have had to modify other parts so that she is not overscheduled, still has time for activities, social and free time to read, rest and create. Our worldschooling is forever changing as we change, move and grow. I would go as far to say that it is somewhat of a grooveless existence for us. We are always teetering on the line of finding our groove and comfort level and changing with it to adapt to the customs of our new country. Some parts stay consistent, but the truly immersive situations within the community are always in motion and change. I don’t necessary think this is bad because it teaches the children to be able to adapt to different surroundings and to think outside the box. So, we find our groove some days, weeks, months and years and other times we don’t, but we are ok with that because we see our children learning, happy and becoming more independent because of our travel situation.
Did we make the right decision? Absolutely. We definitely own it now. The proof is truly in the children. Do we get criticism? Absolutely, but not as often as you would think. Do we care? Absolutely not. Is that too blunt? We spend an enormous amount of time with our children. We learn as a family. We travel as a family. We give back as a family. We are a team. Team Sueiro. We are on the path that is right for our family in this season of our life. Will next year change? Maybe. Maybe not. Our children will always be given the option to attend a brick and mortar school and if they want to try out middle school or high school then we will let them. Although we are not unschoolers we do believe in letting the child guide their education to a degree in order to follow specific passions that ignite the fire within them. This is where we are supposed to be right now.
What are we hoping to gain from world schooling? We want our children to develop a level of compassion and understanding for other cultures that extends beyond the boundaries of their birth country. We want them to be able to understand why other cultures have different approaches to life rather than saying it is wrong or not normal. We want them to fight fears, dream big and know that their options are limitless in this world. We want them to see the world as much smaller and less scary than it is portrayed in the media. We want them to realize that at the end of the day we are all just people, maybe we have a different accent, religious belief or political philosophy, but the world and its people are generally kind and have something to offer if they are willing to listen.
If you are thinking of venturing into the life of worldschooling congrats! You will love it. Are you wondering where to start? Does it feel overwhelming right now? I get it, we were there. Let me share a couple of secrets. Well, they are not really secrets; it’s much simpler than you may think. First, network and by network I mean find your TRIBE! Reach out to those doing it already, ask questions and follow blogs. I promise you this community is a group of individuals that LOVE to share. Ask and you shall receive. Second, read as much as you can about alternative education. Again, read as much as you can about alternative education. Once you start researching you will begin to understand where you fit and your education philosophy will begin to emerge with very little effort. Finally, don’t give up. You will most likely hit a wall where it all seems overwhelming. Get over that hump and it will be smooth sailing. Reach out to your tribe when you need support. We have all been there and some days we are still there. And you can always find me at www.goodiegoodiegumdrop.com. I am a pay it forward type of gal. I was helped by many and I now help others venturing out. Contact me!
Go out and travel. Dream big and live the life that works for your family. If worldschooling is part of the plan then rock it!
I hope this has been helpful to many of you considering a worldschooling path.
Jessica writes about her family’s worldschooling adventures at the lifestyle blog, Goodie Goodie Gumdrops. You can watch a one-on-one interview between Lainie and Jessica here, and be sure to watch Lainie & Miro’s Worldschooling Presentation at the Un in the Sun Conference where the Sueiro family is featured.
GGG – Slow traveling Family. Worldschoolers. Digital Nomads. Dream chasers. Minimalists. Lovers. Laughers. Culture seekers. Life learners. Now is now! GGG is a lifestyle blog that focuses on travel as it relates to our family.
This is a wonderful guest post by a member of our worldschooling community. We are happy to share a variety of voices to inspire and show you there are many paths to worldschooling and many more ways to worldschool. More about the author at the end of this article
Becoming a Worldschooler
by Ginny Barrett
A few years ago, I spent a good amount of time worrying about all the things I wanted to teach my daughter when we would homeschool her. The thing is…I was still pregnant with her at the time. I thought about how I liked learning and about the things I did not like. I considered my childhood and my experiences. I even started collecting things that I thought would help her along the way. I remembered the places I had visited and things I wanted to show her. I researched the different ways to homeschool a child. By the time she was born, I already had some serious plans in place. My husband was so generous in saying he would go along with most anything. Too bad I was way ahead of myself…hahaha.
Julie’s first two years were challenging. We were dealing with some extensive behaviors from my son who has Autism. Once we finally got that situation under control, I started going thru the box of things I had collected and reevaluating the ‘plans’ I had made. I decided that since I had been so distracted her first two years, I wanted to be as close to her as possible and watch her grow and mature and not miss another thing. I thought about what had made me happy as a child and the best times I had with my parents and traveling was the number one thing that came up for me. I didn’t feel a need to make her happy all the time but wanted her to love learning as much as I did. I started making a list of the important things my parents had taught me and my husband’s parents had taught him and then added lessons we had learned as adults. None of these items had anything to do with a public education.
My original plans had been based on doing school (or a public education) at home. Schooling her at home would allow me to add in the lessons we wanted to add and protect her from the things we didn’t want her exposed to. I felt I was a part of a growing movement away from the norm for educating children. Most people rely on the government to educate their children or at least for deciding what should be taught. The lesson most parents have forgotten is that they ARE the government. We are the ones that get to decide what is best for our children. What do you want your children to learn?
For Julie, we decided that we wanted to expose her to the world around her. The world is open to any parent to use for their children. There are museums almost everywhere in the US and around the World. There are historical markers lining the highways crisscrossing our homeland and other countries. There are infinite opportunities on the internet to offer experiences to your child from the comfort of your living room. But how many families do this? How many families do things to enhance their child’s education beyond the curriculum?
While I believe almost all homeschooling families do some extra things, I think focusing on the extra things is what worldschooling is about.
If you research all of the types of homeschooling you can choose from to teach your children, you will find that a lot of them blend with worldschooling if you will let them. You can be a traditional homeschooler that uses a preset curriculum and then add things in. You can unschool your children and travel the world or the US and just let your children experience the environments they find themselves in. You can focus on things that interest you as your children are young and then focus on things they are interested in as they grow. You can even follow the Charlotte Mason method and add worldschooling in when an opportunity arises. You can travel full time or just a little.
We have chosen to go backwards in how we approach teaching Julie. Instead of having a curriculum to follow, I print off what things a person should learn from multiple places (in addition to the lessons we have accumulated) and then we go about our lives. As she learns something on the list, I check it off. She is currently working in Kindergarten, first and second grades…without any pressure because there is no model or curriculum to follow.
I cannot express how excited I was to learn about worldschooling.
It took so much pressure off of me. Little thoughts like if we go on a trip, what do I do about keeping up with the daily requirements of a curriculum? What if we are on a trip and we find a historic site to study….but she isn’t supposed to learn that part of history for a couple of years? Now these types of questions do not bother me. I get to look at the world with awe and study to my heart’s content…taking her along with me right now while she is four and then following her lead as she learns to express her wishes more.
We are worldschoolers now and proud of it.
My name is Ginny Barrett and my first website is called simplyginny.com. I write two blogs and offer my homemade bodycare products for sale. One blog is about me discovering my daughter, who she is, and how to teach her about her world and the other is about discovering who I am. Fall is my favorite season. I love all of the deep and intense colors. I love to read, to write, and finding out about the world on the internet. I love to make my own bodycare products, arts and crafts. I love to be a mom to Julie and a wife to my husband Jay. I love to homeschool Julie. And I am so excited to be Discovering Ginny and Teaching Julie.
Going out of my comfort zone. Trying new food. Falling in love with new cities and people. Making new friends. Experiencing new cultures. These are just some of the many reasons I absolutely love to travel. I feel I could write a novel about my love for travel, but there is one aspect of travel that has always stood out, and often surprised me.
I love how travel is constantly breaking and going beyond stereotypes. As much as I love to think I was born in a more progressive society, stereotypes shape the way we live our lives and think about the world. However, I have found that travel constantly pushes people to face the stereotypes they make, and change their view of the world. These are just a few ways travel has changed the stereotypes that shape our lives.
Women can travel too
I have wanted to travel as long as I can remember, but I’ve realized that not everyone has always been on board with my travel ideas. My parents and family have constantly reminded me that “it’s not the same travelling as a woman,” or “it’s not safe to go there as a woman.” However, according to The Gutsy Traveler, “75% of those who take cultural, adventure or nature trips are women.” So women are traveling, are having incredible experiences, and are coming home in one piece. As time has gone on, I have found that my family has become more accepting, and realizes, as a woman, I can travel just about anywhere.
You won’t die if you travel alone
My family was already nervous about my travels as a woman, so when I told them I was going to travel alone, they just about lost it. Friends and acquaintances often think people that travel alone are a little weird, have no friends, or want to die abroad. However, to everyone’s surprise, I travelled alone and did not die! In fact, according to Yahoo, “72% of American women are enthusiastic about solo travel and have travelled on their own for work or vacation.” By travelling alone, you are not only experiencing an amazing travel experience, but changing the stereotypes of what solo traveling means.
Most people and places are not what you think they are
As much as we try to live our lives as open and unbiased as possible, we can’t help but have created at least some stereotypes throughout our lives. I always try be open minded in everything I do, but I am not going to lie. Before going to China I had some preconceptions of what the country and its people would be like. I thought maybe no one in China would like Americans, and that the country was somewhat oppressed. Of course, after my trip, I completely changed my view. I learned more than I ever could have imagined. China is full of beautiful and kind people, and the country’s communist stereotypes were completely broken. In fact, I would argue China is progressive and free. (However, I did use a VPN to get around internet restrictions, which I would highly recommend when travelling in China.)
There are kind people everywhere
Some countries are labeled as being unsafe or unfriendly; however, I have found that regardless of where you go in the world, everyone is human, and everywhere you can find kind people. There are of course plenty of not so kind people, but I am continually amazed by the amount of helpful, genuine, and kind people that exist in the world.
Before traveling to Peru, I had continually heard about scams and safety problems with taxi drivers in Lima. These stories began to make me nervous (and unfortunately a little untrusting). What I found was quite the opposite. Some of the kindest people I met in Peru were taxi drivers. One man accidentally took a wrong turn, and even offered to lower the cost of the taxi ride. I was shocked! I’m used to taxi drivers intentionally taking wrong turns to keep the meter going, so for someone to offer a refund was quite astounding. Of course, bad things do happen, and it is important to not let your guard down too much. However, I find the majority of the time I am amazed by people’s kindness, and my stereotypes are more often wrong than right.
You, yourself, can break stereotypes
When travelling, you are of course, learning constantly, and breaking the misconceptions that you have in your head. But, more often than not, I find that I often break stereotypes people have of me as a young American woman. I have had people immediately be rude to me when they find out I’m American, had someone seriously ask me if my friends are all fat, and even overheard someone say that all Americans only care about money. As a traveler, you are also breaking the misconceptions people may have had of you. I’ve made incredible friends abroad, and have shown them by simply acting as myself that I am not a stereotype, and do not fit into one single category. Learning that we are all wrong about each other may be the most beautiful thing about travelling.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness –Mark Twain
I’m never in one place for very long. My parents were travelers before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older!
A guest post written by Jamie Roberts
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn.”
I never aspired to be a teacher. It was never my thing. I guess that’s why I never planned to home school.
I became a wife and mother before college or career. I never knew how much being a mother meant to me until I gave birth to our first son. It pained me to be away from him and to watch him grow so fast, but my heart soared to see him learn. So I taught him.
It started as a way to prepare him for primary school. I had chosen to stay home with him instead of returning to work. I worried that by not enrolling him in preschool he would fall behind his peers. By the time my oldest was ready to start his kindergarten year, our family had grown. B had two younger brothers. S was four and K had just been born.
We enrolled B in kinder at the local public school. It was immediately apparent that we had a problem. B was so far ahead of his peers that he was bored. He finished the assignments quickly and tried to be overly “helpful” and “social” with the other students. He didn’t understand what he was doing wrong. B came to strongly dislike school.
As parents and as life long learners, my husband and I were very disappointed. We found a charter school nearby and registered both B and S for the school lottery. Both were accepted and started Kinder and 1st grade that following year. I had high hopes for the charter because it was a S.T.E.M. school. I felt that the previous year’s troubles had been with that particular school and that all my children needed was a more rigorous curriculum.
Like in most other schools, the classes were large and the teachers were spread too thin. S struggled. B still surpassed his peers to the point that he was reading several chapters a day during school time. After a year at the charter school we knew that if we wanted our children to get the quality education they deserved we would have to make a drastic change.
Que home school.
The idea of the boys education…and future…would be resting on my shoulders made me nervous, but excited. This was an opportunity not only to teach them, but also to inspire them. I wouldn’t just be giving them more one-on-one time and help, I would be giving them the resources and tools they needed to expand their education.
I jumped right in to researching schooling methods and curriculum. I was immediately overwhelmed. I had no idea what my approach would be. Then, almost instantaneously, it became crystal clear. Robert Frost said, “I am not a teacher, but an awakener”. That is what I will do. I will be an awakener.
I want to hold on to some aspects of traditional schooling. We have a pretty sound routine and a flexible schedule. My children like to know what to expect. They get it honest. We study much more than Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. We’ve incorporated Grammar/Usage, Computer Science, Art/Art History, Music, Earth Science, U.S. Geography, Foreign Language, Cultural Studies, Tae Kwon Do, and Engineering. In the coming years, Cultural Studies will grow to Sociology and all religions.
I would say our philosophy is a hybrid of Traditional, Waldorf, and Montessori. Many of our lessons are project based or are “hands-on” activities. We take several field trips a month to museums, art centers, and the seashore. We’ve recently started Geocaching to learn navigation while we continue to study Geography.
Most people seem to think that home schooled children are closed off from the world around them. I’ve come to see that it’s very much the opposite. We strive to ensure that our children are exposed to as much of the world as possible. Before I had ever heard the term “world schooling”, we had become world schoolers. We’ve opened our children’s eyes to the many various cultures of the world and invited them to take part. Though we’d love to travel the world we aren’t at the place to do so at this time. Instead, we’ve brought world schooling home.
World schooling can be defined in so many ways. To me, it means to reach out into the world around you on an educational level. World schooling means meeting people and connecting on a human level. To realize that we are all different and that is okay. To exchange customs and ideas without bias or prejudice. To magnify our similarities while exploring our differences.
We are currently living in Corpus Christi, Texas, United States of America. The U.S. is a melting pot of various cultures. In Corpus Christi the educational resources are in abundance. The closeness of Corpus Christi to Mexico has resulted in a primarily Hispanic cultural atmosphere. This has allowed us to enjoy the cuisine and traditions on a regular basis. My favorite thus far has been “Dia de los Muertos”, Day of the Dead. On November 1st every year, hundreds of people gather down town and build shrines to their lost loved ones. It is a beautifully, moving spectacle of flowers, candles, and photos of the departed. The living paint their faces to look like skeletons.
In addition to Dia de los Muertos, we attend several other cultural events within our city. A few weeks later is the Greek Festival in mid-November. This February, the Islamic Society hosted an International Festival. In March, the people of Corpus Christi celebrated like the Irish for St. Patrick’s Day. The Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures hosted a Lantern Festival. In the same week, the Festival of India welcomed us to explore an Indian feast, traditional music and dance, yoga and henna tattoos.
A little over one year ago I started an educational play group that I named Play and Learn of Corpus Christi. I created the group to connect families of different backgrounds and lifestyles. This month our group will be hosting it’s first annual Cultural Festival on World Heritage Day, April 18th. The purpose of the festival is to highlight our differences and invite our friends to explore something new. Each family participating will represent a country of which they have genealogical ties. Each family will create decorations and a customary dish to share. My family will be representing France.
At home we world school by preparing ethnic food, watching anime, reading manga, creating cultural art, watching documentaries, and studying languages. This August we will be traveling to nearby San Antonio for San Japan. San Japan is a Japanese anime convention that strives to bring people from all backgrounds together in appreciation of Asian culture. Our boys are rightfully excited.
I deeply believe that as humans we are never finished learning. This world has so much to teach us. One of the most important things I want my children to learn is that we are all connected. I want them to practice tolerance and acceptance. I want them to understand that we are all family. To lose sight of that could be a dangerous thing. To remember it could be amazing.
This post and images were brought to you by Jamie Roberts
Jamie Roberts is a home educator and mom of 3 boys, currently world schooling from her home in south Texas, United States. Jamie is the Founder and President of Play and Learn of Corpus Christi and blogs at SchoolofWonder.blogspot.com.
Today’s fabulous guest post comes to us from our friend Christy who is a fellow roadschooling Mom. Her experiences are quite different than any other we’ve featured on this blog before. We hope you enjoy this post!
I suppose you could say travel and learning are in my blood. I can blame/thank my parents for that.
It all started when I was a young girl in the Mother’s Day Out program our church had. My father came home one day, the day of the Columbine Shootings, and told my mum she was going to home school me. At first, she didn’t know much about homeschooling. She had been public schooled and had an associates degree in Business Management. She started our home school as public school, but at home, requiring us to sit still at our desks.
I wasn’t having any of that. I believe I would have been thought of as ADHD or ADD (and I still would) if I had been enrolled in public school. I would not sit still. I remember getting up and moving around just about every five minutes. Eventually, my mum realized that homeschooling did not and was not supposed to be like public schooling at home. She relaxed her style.
My father was an adventurer. Having been a high school drop out, he studied computers and electronics and taught himself martial arts. But the traveling. We went a multitude of places on our vacations. And not the kiddie places or amusement parks. We traveled (by car!) to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Carlsbad, and places all around Oklahoma. My mum and my daddy taught me and my brother all they could on these trips. My mum taught us math by giving us an allowance each day on the trip to spend on items we wanted, and told us that it could add up by the end of the trip if we let it. She also had lapbooks for us (though I don’t think that they were called that at the time) for me and my brother to practice our letters and to draw in if we became bored. My daddy taught us how to set trip line traps and how to hunt rabbits with a hot dog roaster.
I was four years old when my daddy told me I could travel on trips with him in his truck when I turned five, as that was his company’s policy. Needless to say, I never wanted to grow another year older so badly. As soon as I was old enough, his company changed its policy. My daddy, ready to have more freedom than being a company driver would allow him, changed companies. With his new company, I started my first adventure with him on the truck. I can still remember how it felt. Excitement bubbled out of my young body. I would sit in the passenger seat, looking out at the passing world, listening to the radio and talking with my daddy about anything and everything. When school age came around, I also had schoolwork to do. My mum would prepare a lesson plan to tell me what I needed to be doing while I traveled.
My brother also had his turn to travel on the road with my daddy in his truck. I did not like having to stay home with my mum, though we would do fun things there. It was not the same as traveling. Wanderlust had bit me and I was hooked.
Eventually, when I was seven or eight, my mum quit her job working at UPS at night. My daddy had switched again to another company, having bought a truck, and he now was an owner operator with more say where he could go. She, my daddy, my brother, our cat, and I started traveling on the road. Even with a 72 inch sleeper, there wasn’t much room. My brother and I would do our schoolwork, each taking turns with our mum to sit in the front seat.
We went so many places! I remember learning about nature in rest areas, stopping at national parks, swimming in rivers, climbing hills, playing in the ocean… There were so many things we did.
We learned by asking questions too.
“Daddy, why is the water shooting out of that rock?” I had asked when we were going through The Great Smokey Mountains.
“There are underground rivers and when the pressure builds, water comes spurting out of the cracks in the rocks,” he had replied. Of course, my little girl self then imagined tubing down an underground river and coming spurting out of holes in the rocks.
We learned about volcanoes, lava flows, and steam vents. Once, we had just entered Oregon. The ground around the road was steaming. I asked him why. He shrugged and replied, “We are in volcano country.” I imagined walking on the ground and the rubber on the bottom of my shoes melting.
In some of the rest areas, there was plenty of room to run and dance and explore. We once found a baby bird that had fallen out of it’s nest, that happened to be under a gazebo. My daddy lifted me on his shoulders and I put it back in the nest, much to the disappointment of my brother.
Eventually my brother and I grew too big to share a bunk and we were back to traveling with my daddy one at a time. My mum went too, just with my daddy sometimes, and they left us at our grandparents.
When my daddy was home, after we could not all fit on the truck anymore, we would usually go camping at our favorite refuge: The Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. There we would hike and explore, discovering caves, mines, and the occasional rattlesnake.
We learned so much, not only as a family, but as individuals too. Most of all, we learned love and adventure. I was worldschooled, I see now. I traveled around 46 of the fifty states growing up, learning in each one. And I cannot thank my parents enough for teaching me that way.
Christy Vassar grew up all around the USA traveling with her family. She is an advocate for homeschooling and worldschooling. When she isn’t writing, she’s either thinking about writing or working as a librarian at the local library. Now she makes her home with her husband in Woodward, Oklahoma, dreaming and planning to travel again. You can follow Christy and her journey at her blog here or on facebook.
World schooling has been part and parcel of our children’s lives since they were born. Emilia was born in Australia and has lived in Australia, China, Canada and Peru – she is 9. Matthew was born in Australia and has lived in Australia, Canada and Peru – he is 4. World schooling even before we identified it for ourselves was already well ingrained into our lives as a natural part of learning.
My husband and I love to travel – even before we met we had both travelled extensively individually and have continued to do so together in the 10 years we have known one another. I guess you could call my husband and I world schoolers ourselves, as you never truly stop learning when you are travelling.
We have dipped in and out of structured school – our daughter attended school in Canada for a number of years although quite honestly, she never enjoyed the traditional approach. At the moment, our son attends a school 5 days a week in Cusco, Peru and at 4, definitely enjoys the social aspect of the situation. Of course that kind of traditional schooling method only works when we are in one location for a lengthy period of time.
When on the road we opt for more flexible methods of learning generally leaning between home schooling on one end and unschooling on the other. And of course, world schooling as guided by our destination.
Personally, I have found it easier to adopt unschooling and world schooling the longer we are “on the road”. While at first we did try the more structured home schooling approach, our busy and unplanned lives didn’t lend itself easily into this mould.
As a work from home ghostwriter and content writer, I had to drop homeschooling in favour of an assignment which graced my desk. We just weren’t able to create any kind of regular schedule. We have found that dipping our toes in and out of specific subjects works better for us. My daughter currently does an online art class once a week, and we find we can work around such a short term commitment; anything longer and life just gets in the way.
My daughter will quite honestly tell you that she loves unschooling and my son will tell you that he enjoys going to school. My two kids have a different learning style; what works for one, does not appeal to the other and me trying to force a specific educational approach on either of them will not end positively.
Worldschooling – it’s about being in the moment, taking every opportunity that is presented and not being afraid to try something new. That in itself is a great educational experience for any child. My son attends a school where Spanish is the spoken language. My daughter attended a dance class where Spanish was the spoken language. They have had no formal language education – it was the situation when presented to them which enabled them to learn. I doubt I would have had as much success with either had I just placed a Spanish book in front of them and asked them to read.
Travel and world schooling opens children up to amazing opportunities that may not have been presented to them if they were working within a more structured educational environment. Reading about Machu Picchu and seeing it with their eyes just doesn’t compare.
And who knows what amazing things our kids are going to see and do on our upcoming road trip from Cusco, Peru to Niagara Falls, Canada! I couldn’t even begin to plan a curriculum that would rival such a trip. All we know is that we are prepared for whatever opportunities come our way. We have learned over the years to never say never!
Read more about this fabulous family here http://www.raisingmiro.com/2014/11/18/families-on-the-move-meet-the-amazing-family-behind-the-blog-and-off-we-went/
Today’s guest post comes to us from fellow unshcooling dad, Robert Gottlieb. Luckily, we had the pleasure of meeting in person at the unschooling conference we presented at in 2012. He has a son the same age as Miro and we’ve stayed connected over the years. His family’s story into unschooling comes from the same foundation as we do: Attachment Parenting. I love reading his story and the more stories I read about connected families, the greater I feel about this way of life! We hope you find inspiration in this family’s journey into unschooling:
Our Natural Journey from Attachement Parenting to Unschooling
It’s strange to look back on it all now, as it seems obvious we would be here now, but you could never have told that to the old me back when my 15 yr old was born.
You see, he taught us how to Attachment Parent him. Attachment Parenting (or AP as it’s commonly abbreviated) is basically unschooling for babies. Babies aren’t traditionally thought of as needing to be “schooled” in the brick and mortar sense of the word.
Typically babies are expected to just develop language and learn to walk. So Attachment Parenting basically is the concept that the parent is responsible for giving the baby everything it needs. And lets face it, us AP parents gave way more than that anyway! So what this looks like is this: if a baby cries, we pick it up and make it feel secure by holding and loving it. We don’t believe in “crying it out” nor do we believe in cribs or other ways of separating the baby from us parents. There’s way more to it than I’m talking about (including on demand breastfeeding, etc), so feel free to look it up if you are a parent of a baby.
What’s interesting for us is that we did not know what AP even was, when our son was born. We just knew that if we put him in a bassinet he would cry, but if we picked him up he would stop! Also, we noticed he liked sleeping next to us on the bed (which was quite handy for the breastfeeding mom in the middle of the night). All of this to say that we were learning to take cues from this small human being as to what he needed and wanted as well.
Fast forward a bit (to when he was school age) and that’s when the trouble began. We tried putting him in several different learning situations, because we thought that’s what we were supposed to do. We tried public school, homeschooling, charter schools, private school then back to home schooling again.
None of it “worked” because we were trying to teach him something. We weren’t understanding that he was learning all the time and that everything we were trying was only putting obstacles in his way. During this time period, we had learned a small amount about unschooling, but we didn’t really understand how it all worked. More importantly, we didn’t trust we could “do it right”. So we kept having run ins with our son, where he’d yell at us and we’d yell at him.
Then one day, I was reading about unschooling again (a few years later). I can’t quite tell you why it clicked, but it did. It was a big aha! moment for me. My next challenge was to help my wife see why this works and how it works. It didn’t take much convincing for the unschooling “school” part as my wife clearly saw that schooling wasn’t working. But it was the Radical part that was much harder, given that she was mostly with him whereas I work in an office. By Radical I mean full freedom (bedtime, food, etc). We found that the more freedom we gave him the more our relationship improved.
Fast forward to today and for father’s day, my son wrote that I was the coolest dad on his Facebook status.
During all of this time my now 8 yr old daughter benefitted greatly as she never saw the inside of a school. Her life is all about soaking in as much information as she can. She is so full of energy and questions! She loves life because she knows how to learn from it. That’s not to say life is perfect for her. She does, after all, live in this society. But she has a way of letting things roll off of her. She doesn’t absorb the negativity around her.
So why does all of this work? Because we parents are the model. What we do, our kids will mimic. That’s how they learned to walk. Kids do have their own unique personalities too, but they still learn from observing the world they live in. They look up to us parents as the humans they can trust on this planet. And we are there for our kids. Because there are no silly rules or punishments in the way, we can have a serious conversation with our kids. They trust that when we talk to them, we are hearing them and we are working together.
I hope that when they grow older, and if they decide to have kids, they learn from this environment and choose something similar. In the meantime, I’m just glad to be their parent, friend and collaborator in this world. They are awesome human beings and I love them very much!
Hi I am Robert Gottlieb. I’m a software developer by day for our federal government, and by night I’m father and best friend to Rhiannon (8) and Alex (15), and hubby to Corinne. I’m a foodie and a technoweenie. I’m a Mac enthusiast and love to tinker with Operating Systems and Programming Languages (yes a self proclaimed geek).
Everyone has a story. Some of us come to worldschooling through intention, others through accident. Most believe that one has to have a great deal of money to make this lifestyle choice. Kristie so graciously offered to share her story with us that disproves that idea. Although her road to worldschooling was a difficult one, her story is filled with inspiration. I am so grateful that Kristie, a dedicated worldschooling Mom, decided to share with our readers how she and her family came to experience all that the world has to offer. I hope you find inspiration this holiday season and see that it’s possible to enjoy life on a limited budget and overcome many obstacles on the way. Kristieblogs at www.budgetfamilytreks.com
Our family started off worldschooling rather by accident. We were having tough times financially. My partner had lost his job and we were living on just my income, which wasn’t a lot. The utilities were getting shut off, we weren’t sure if we would have enough money to buy food. We struggled for a few months, it was so hard on the entire family. That year, I had to sit my then four children down and tell them there would be no Christmas because we just couldn’t afford it. I wasn’t even sure I could afford to get food for them everyday, never mind Christmas gifts and all that goes with Christmas. The kids were sad, but understanding. We said we do Christmas in the new year if money was better. Secretly though, I didn´t the chances were high that my kids would get a Christmas celebration of any size or anytime soon.
After the Christmas holidays the kids went back to school. We had homeschooled before and this was the first year that the kids were in school. When they returned to school, one of the teachers asked on of my older son’s how his Christmas was. He responded with ¨We haven’t had ours yet because are waiting until my mom can afford it¨. He was just being honest. He didn´t understand that not everyone did this and that being poor wasn´t socially accepted.
Later that afternoon at home, I got a call from a woman stating that she would like me to come to her office in town. We lived in the country just outside of a small town. Her office was in this small town. I was so terrified that she was with Children’s Services and wanted to talk to me before they took my children away! I drove to her office so afraid. What was I going to tell this woman? I was doing the best I could with what we had. My children always came first for me! I was too embarrassed to go apply for welfare and I was hoping that things would get better and we wouldn’t need to use welfare.
Once I got to the office, I was met by a sweet smiling woman. She led me into her personal office and offered me a seat. She then asked if I wanted a hot drink as it was cold outside. She explained that someone from the school had called and let her know that our family hadn’t had Christmas because we couldn’t afford. I was afraid now. Could they apprehend children from a parent´s care for not providing Christmas? While my mind was racing, trying to think of how to explain to this woman, who looked as though she had never been without anything a day in her life, she was explaining why she had asked me to come in. I had to ask her to repeat herself. She smiled and repeated herself, ¨We help families that need a little help at Christmas. I´m sorry your family slipped through the cracks. I´d like to offer you some gifts for your children and yourself, if you are all right with that?¨. Tears filled my eyes, I was so relieved! No one was taking my kids away, because I couldn´t afford to buy them gifts! Someone, wanted to help!
She took me into a very large room that had large cupboards all along the walls. She started to unlock the cupboards and they were filled with toys, lego kits, craft kits and games of all sorts. She said ¨Our stock is very low because Christmas just passed and I hope you will be able to find something for each of your kids¨. She told me to take 3 things per child. She also gave each child a backpack, socks, mittens, hat, scarf, and toiletries. She had a special parents package pre-wrapped for me. I had been depressed for months, because of our bleak situation. This brought me relief and the thoughts that maybe things could get better for us. I left the office and went home with a car load of gifts for my kids. When they got home from school they were so happy to see that they did get Christmas after all! The older boys were so thrilled with their hockey sticks! My daughter was excited about her craft kits and my younger son loved his Lego sets!
After the craziness of the holiday season, things slowed down. I found out unexpectedly that I was pregnant again. My youngest at the time was nine years old. I was devastated. We could barely afford to feed the kids we had, and now another one was coming! How was I going to be able to take care of a baby on top of everything else. I cried and cried. For a time that should have been happy and exciting for us, it was a very sad time for us. We fought a lot about the situation. I considered abortion at one time, thinking that it would be the best thing for our family. I couldn’t do it though.
Shortly after the discovery of the pregnancy, I called my mother, I went out to visit her and look for a house. We could buy a house there for under $15,000. She lives in an area that is mostly farming community and in the towns there are a lot of abandoned, older houses. You can buy one for very cheap. I found a house in a nice little town and we made arrangements to pay per month (it was cheaper than what we had been paying for rent) and in 10 months the house was OURS!. This was the solution to our very desperate situation.
When we moved, my oldest son made the decision to live with his aunt and uncle. He loves horses and didn’t want to move away from what he was used to. So we moved with three kids. It was tough at the start but it got a lot better really fast. We were able to afford the basics now that we finally had affordable housing. After a while I made the decision to allow my second oldest son to live with his grandparents. We were having major behavior issues with him. This was nothing new, he has always been a high need child. I had to make the toughest decision at that time. Was it better to send him to live with the grandparents or to have my other two kids in danger daily because of his aggressive outbursts?
That winter, we bought a school bus with the intention of converting it into a motor home. I put an ad online on a buy and sell site, and I was blatantly honest. Stating that we didn’t have a lot of money but we wanted to buy a school bus to convert into a motor home. A very generous family emailed and offered us a great bus for a great price! We could even make payments on it! In the spring we started our conversion of the bus. This was a fun family project. In late spring we moved into our partially finished bus and hit the road! We traveled around our province for the summer, camping and spending time together. It was a wonderful experience. We all enjoyed our time in the bus so much. The children learned so much from our travels!
While we were sitting around the fire one evening, we were chatting as usual. The topic of what we were going to do when winter came, came up. None of us really wanted to return to our house and live there. Mostly because it was in the middle of no where and far from everything. No one wanted to go back to the bleak impoverished life we had come from and the house just reminded us of that. We talked about all kinds of options for us. We even considered driving the bus south and heading for Central America. However doing that would mean a lot of gas money. We already knew it was $700 to fill the bus at the gas station. Somehow we came to the decision to head for the Caribbean and live there. We had vacationed there before without the kids and thought that would be a wonderful idea. I also had a friend that lived there and would be able to help us find housing and such before we left.
I researched online and found us cheap tickets. We knew that once we got to the Caribbean, we wouldn’t have a lot of money for two weeks until we got money again. We packed our bags. Put everything we needed to keep in our bus and parked it on a friend´s land. Then we left for the Caribbean. We have never looked back! That was the start of our worldschooling adventures! It sure isn´t a very glamorous story but it is our story.
We have been worldschooling now for almost 4 years. I wouldn’t change it for the world! My children have learned so many amazing things! They have swam with dolphins, learned a second language fluently without ever setting foot in a classroom and so many other amazing experiences that they would not have gotten had we not made this leap of faith.
This wonderful guest post comes to us from fellow home educator Laurie. Miro and I skipped the transition period from public school to homeschooler, since we had planned on traveling for one year. Intuitively I knew travel would be a sufficient education (and still do) but what of the families who take it one step at a time. Laurie shares a candid look how a family process these changes and the thoughts surrounding them. Laurie blogs at www.inspiringnhkids.com, where she takes each day as a great opportunity to share with her kids, her love of learning. We hope you enjoy this guest post:
The decision to homeschool is a really complicated and emotional issue, if the child is already in school.
Kevin and I talked about homechooling never, until Ethan was in second grade. By that time, we had moved to a new school district, knew the principals and superintendent well and Kevin had been on the school board for 2 years. So, we basically felt like there was no other choice, public school was not working for Ethan and Jason was finishing up Kindergarten and since he was already reading Harry Potter, we were worried about him being challenged in 1st grade.
Kevin knew one other doctor who homeschooled, so he set up a time for us to go over their house and meet their children. Also, known as the are these children normal test. The mom and kids were perfectly nice and reassuring, showed up their portfolio of yearly accomplishments, which convinced Kevin, that it was just another educational path.
So, after we left the house, we decided to go for it.
Taking a child out school to be homeschooled is a huge decision and plan that the entire family has to be apart of. The entire process is a shock to the child, you are taking away an idea, principal and structure, It is shock to the homeschooling parent, because the first week, is like this is going to be great, then you start ordering stuff from the internet, and then you realize, I’m going responsible for math, reading, phonics, geography, science, writing, etc., seriously that is a lot of work.
We tried to do a test run at homeshooling though the first summer before our homeschooling year would begin. I did a few pages of math and reading with the boys, for a few days and then Ethan said is this what homeschooling would be like? (I’m not sure if he heard my husband or I discuss it, or saw my various books on homeschooling, or just asked) So, we admitted to him and Jason that we were thinking about it, he was like that sounds good, but what about my friends.
It took a while for Ethan to “forget his friends,” but it happened the first fall we were homechooling, he clicked with a boy at NERF Club and they quickly became inseparable.
Everyone says that you should deschool for a while, I’m not sure why. In our case, Ethan was so far behind, he was so eager to start learning, Jason has always been an eager learner.
This guest post comes to us from teen homeschooler, Kayla Brown.
Kayla is a quick witted, funny, homeschooled teen who is actively exercising the art of writing through her blogs, homeschooledandsane.blogspot.com and queenawkword.wordpress.com. She enjoys brightening everyone’s day with her outgoing personality and fun spirit.
“I don’t believe in dreams. Dreams have a tendency to stay just a dream. I believe in goals; with hard work, goals become reality.”
~ Kayla Brown~
Homeschooling is what you make of it. Homeschooling shouldn’t just be an alternate education it should be a way of life. I want people to see us, homeschoolers, and be inspired to test the limits of their knowledge. I want people to be proud of homeschooling. It has become more to me than just simply learning. I crave knowledge. I like to listen to college lectures online for hours a day just for fun. I need to learn. In public school I believe they teach you how to take a test and get the right answers. I want to know how to actually solve the problems. Not make a calculator do all the work. Homeschooling allows me to learn what I want and it lets me test the limits of the world. So I can go into the world and test those same text books. I can go to little shops and interview the owner to learn how to start my own business. I can go to a museum and learn their take on dinosaurs. I am not stuck in a room with thirty-five other students reading a book about how Columbus discovered America. I can go look at the old artifacts telling the history outside a classroom. When we are learning hands on we are enhancing our education.
I make friends fairly easy. After moving every few years and going from public school to homeschool twice now. I have gotten very good at getting along with most people. I used to tell myself that it’s because I am normal; when most who know me know I am not. Some kids strive to be “normal,” when they are around others at school.
Normal is what holds us back.
Difference is the mother of creativity.
I live on a farm where we have six chickens, eight goats of which three are kids, two horses, and one colt. When you live 20 minutes out of town, you learn to get creative with your social life. Blogging me experience on Blogger has become a means of socialization. When I can’t go into town I train my goats. Blossom is my favorite goat(in the picture, the one on the right about to jump off), but you get the point. My blog started out as my sanity. That is why it is called “Homeschooled and Sane”. I had questions and needed answers. My mom put together some websites she asked me to use based on suggestions from other homeschooling parents. Her friend offered to give us some of her old curriculum. I ended up using the grammar book and a Geometry CD. I didn’t like a lot of the websites that my mother had provided so I started looking up other websites I could use. Then I started reading blog after blog after blog on homeschooling until it hurt my head. I gathered all that information and put it in one place. My Blog so I could refer back to it. It was helpful having all the information in one place. After a few months, my blog started getting a few followers, which struck me as weird. People started to contact me with questions of what they wanted to know. Recently I even got invited to go to Peru for a homeschooling retreat. I’ve only been back homeschooling for about Tobias months! (Sorry that was a book reference, I mean four months.) My blog is helping people.
If you can’t tell, public school isn’t for me. It all started in first grade. I remember at lunch time I was sitting down eating when a boy sat so close to me he was practically on my lap. We were not allowed to move without being dismissed. I had asked him to move over many times, but he didn’t listen. I raised my hand and told a staff member. This is what my parents told me to do when I needed help. I could not believe the words that came out of her mouth. She said, “Its fine. Deal with it.” At an early age, kids need to learn who they can trust and who they can’t. Staff members at school are supposed to be trusted adults, or so I was taught… School is supposed to be a place where you can learn and feel safe. Not be told to deal with someone invading your personal space.
Matt Walsh once said “Maybe we should stop turning our kids into charts and bar graphs, and instead work on connecting with them as human beings.” In public school you are a number, or maybe a few numbers. I was 3.94. Most of all I was 601667. In the high school I went to, I was the bar code ID I was FORCED to wear around my neck. I felt like a dog on a leash. “Please identify yourself.” The hall monitor would ask. “Kayla Brown”, I would state back. “What is your ID number”, he would ask in a monotone voice. “601667” I stated, as he pulled out a notebook to write it down. This number is how I bought lunch, joined clubs, played sports, was allowed in the doors, walk the halls, go to the nurse and go to any classroom. I am sure they have a good reason but I bet there is a better way of accomplishing it.
I don’t believe in dreams. Dreams have a tendency to stay just a dream. Once you turn a dream into a goal that is when you achieve great things. I want to be the first woman president. When I told teachers at school, they chuckled. They thought it was just a dream. It isn’t, it is a goal. That reminds me in 2036, vote Kayla Brown for President!! I will strive and try my hardest until I reach my goal. I believe homeschooling allows us to find goals and gives us the time and resources to achieve them. That is why I think homeschooling is the best form of education.
This wonderful guest post comes to us from Hanna Smith, a free spirited journalist and photographer traveling full time on the road of life. She traveled with her family as a child and has grown up experiencing the travel lifestyle. She has since become a journalist with unique insights to travel, global citizenship and participating in world without fear. We hope you enjoy this guest feature!
Thawing ice from your hiking boots over a 5 inch propane stove on a mountain top provides ample time to contemplate the deep things in life.
Things like: what the heck am I doing‽
I was camping in the middle of the San Juan Mountains around Durango, Colorado in May 2014 at an elevation I guessed was about 11,000 feet because of the trees that were beginning to thin out and the tundra that could be seen not much farther up from where I huddled around the bit of warmth. Snow still capped the jagged mountain top that was visible from the campsite. Although I was sitting with my fingers numb, my long hair tangled around my face like a scarf, shivering despite my layers, and working to thaw out my boots over a backpacking cook stove, I was awe struck. I was so close to the mountain peaks and they were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
Thawing ice from your hiking boots over a 5 inch propane stove on a mountain top provides ample time to contemplate the deep things in life.
Things like: this is what I was made to be doing.
I’m Hanna Smith. Hi, it’s nice to meet you, friend.
September 9th was my sixth anniversary of traveling full time and it’s a perfect opportunity to reflect on what this life style has meant over the years.
I was raised in much the same way as Lainie is raising Miro – education through travel. I’ve heard some people call it road-schooling. My parents, Shae and Sheri Smith of SmithPRO LLC, sold our home in Highlandville, Missouri and began traveling in an RV when I was 14 years old. Prior to the decision to full time, we had always gone on shorter trips throughout the year and, before that, moved often due to the military. For as long as I can remember, we’ve always been on the move – either moving to a new home or simply visiting a location for kicks.
My parents originally started home schooling my older brother, Cody, and I because we moved so often from base to base in the Navy. They didn’t think it was fair to move us in and out of schools so frequently. However, when Mom and Dad both got out of the military, they had begun to recognize the other benefits of home schooling, especially as we continued to travel for the fun of it instead of in the military. Our schooling became based more around unit studies depending on where we went, what season it was, and world news. When we traveled to Virginia, we studied for a month before about early American colonies and then explored the places we had read about. When we began traveling full time during my freshman year of high school, this method of learning became our full time education. By that time, my parents had four younger children as well.
Cody and I both graduated from high school on the road and neither of us went to college. He got a job with the Forest Service in Southern Missouri, something he had wanted to do for some time. He’s since transferred to the National Park Service where he can travel from park to park and work. I devoured any book published by The Associated Press that I could get my hands on and, combined with interning at a newspaper in Missouri, expanded my knowledge while continuing traveling.
I’ve since written for The Lemonade Digest Magazine, The Christian County Headliner News, Full Time Families Magazine, and The Independent Scholar Newspaper. Portions of my blog have been published in an Eric Cohen English as a second language textbook in Greece and Spain. Two of my stories have been printed in Postcards From Chicks Without Bricks. My favorite project, however, was working with Mars-One, the division formerly part of NASA that covers Mars study as they sent the Opportunity Rover into new unexplored territory.
Road-schooling had propelled me into the “real world” from my desk that was any random rock I found to sit on during our travels. Now, I’m a second generation full time traveler with a notebook in my pocket and a pen behind my ear and it’s exactly where I want to be.
A lot people wonder what children raised on the road of life will turn out like when they’re adults. All through high school, people would ask me if I enjoyed the way I was being raised. Now that I’m an adult, they ask the same question: do I appreciate the way I was raised?
The answer is a concrete yes.
Some of us were born with feet that were made to wander. I didn’t realize I was a gypsy soul and that my continual questions of “who, what, when, where, why, and how” were a product of that eagerness to go. Once I was on the road, however, I put the puzzle together and knew that I had found what I wanted to do in life. While not all road-schooled children will grow up to be second generation travelers, and that is just fine, there are certain life lessons that traveling teaches and knowledge that is expanded only by experience.
Here are a few of the many aspects of life that growing up on the road cultivated in me and I have carried on into adulthood.
ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL – people are the most important.
This is one of the most critical things that travel has taught me. While it can become easy to fall into a cycle of self preservation and satisfaction, it’s just as easy to become outwardly focused on others and caring for their needs. Traveling taught me that having an abnegate heart is our natural state and it’s our own pride and negligence that breeds selfishness. My parents always told me to train myself to be continually observant of those around me. Everywhere you go there is at least one person who needs a helping hand, a bright smile, or just a friend to join in the fun with.
RUBY SHOES WILL GET YOU LOST – Home is not a location.
I realized I can sleep peacefully most anywhere. A tent in the middle of the forest is the same as a bumpy hotel bed is the same as a down comforter is the same as a sleeping bag on the grass. When you’re on the road long enough, you realize that home isn’t one dot on the map – it’s many places and it’s what you make of that place. Home is a state of heart and mind where you are in love and are loved. It’s with family, friends, and the atmosphere that brings you to life. That love is home.
NOT MY CIRCUS, NOT MY MONKEY – let go of the things that don’t matter.
When you’re on the road, you learn what truly is important and what is critical to let go. This could be bondage of any kind – financial, relational, or self imposed and outwardly imposed expectations. What remains that is meaningful and long lasting, however, does become all the more central because it’s not crowded with things that steal our time and joy.
WE’LL NEVER BE ROYALS – it’s easy to live on little.
Recently a friend and I packed all of our belongings into the back of a Station Wagon and road tripped from Missouri to Colorado. Nearly everything we owned was contained in the cramped space behind our seats. When you’re a traveler, not only are material items inconvenient, in excess, they’re entirely undesirable. I found that I didn’t need all the things I thought I needed and soon I didn’t even want them. Instead of being a slave to finances, money becomes a blessing.
IMPROVISE, ADAPT, AND OVERCOME – be flexible.
Things rarely go according to plan, traveling has taught me. Life has a way of tossing obstacles of every kind in our way. You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it….you’ve got to go through it! Learning to take everything in stride and planning for plot twists is essential for survival on the road. It’s guaranteed that, at multiple points sometimes in the same day, plans will go awry. That’s part of life. However, learning to take detours and be flexible to change with those bumps in the road not only keeps the adventure going, but it changes your attitude about it.
THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, THIS LAND IS MY LAND – we are all earth citizens.
This last lesson encompasses the bottom line of what I’ve learned from growing up on the road. I’ve seen so much on this earth – so many places, so many people. We are all uniquely and wonderfully different from each other with colorful cultures and tastes and preferences differing from country to country, region to region, and person to person. No two fingerprints are alike. However, when it comes down to it, we are all citizens of this earth. I may speak a different language, come from a different country, and like my sandwich made different than yours, but we all live on this earth together. How beautiful it is when we all learn to appreciate each other and experience life together. We all love to smile as a collective whole. It’s universal.
I could go on and on about ways that being raised on the road of life has helped me in adulthood. Things like food is an international language, never carry your debit card in your wallet, or propane camp stoves work great for thawing boots. It taught me the significance of curiosity, the freedom of wisdom, the confidence of intuition, the invaluableness of good humor, and the simple joy of just being alive.
So, before I say goodbye, friend, here’s one of my favorite recipes that I learned on my travels: Apple Pie Scones. Like I said, food is universal glue that everyone can agree on. These scones are easy to make and are perfect to share. Enjoy!
2 1/2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ c. cold butter
2/3 c. apple pie filling
3/4 c. milk
Organic sugar crystals
Mix the flower, baking powder, cinnamon, and sugar in a medium size mixing bowl. Cube the stick of butter before adding it to the flour mixture. Use two butter knives to chop the butter in. In a separate bowl, scoop out the apple pie filling and mix it with milk. I popped this mix in the microwave for 25 seconds to warm and soften the apples a bit before mashing them well. Combine the two mixtures together and stir well. You may need to add more flour at this point if the dough is excessively sticky. Flour a cutting board and spread out the dough with your fingers into an approximate square. Use a butter knife to cut the dough into triangles as shown above. Keep your dough floured well to prevent sticking. Coat a baking pan with olive oil to prevent sticking, and bake the scones at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
I am happy to say we are an “unschooling” family. But I wonder if that term is a bit too limiting. Agreed, we have taken our children out of the confines of a scheduled and standardized school system and by all that society has agreed upon, we are clearly NOT doing “school”. But to only focus on what we are not doing is selling short all that we ARE doing.
We are showing our kids the world.
Three years ago, when our oldest son Gavin had completed 4th grade and our daughter, Adelaide, just completed 2nd, we decided to select a different path for their education. Replacing pictures in books with real life experiences, our goal was to travel as much as we could and show our kids what the world looked like. I heard it said once, “nothing broadens the mind like a well-stamped passport!” and I completely agree.
As we began to travel and live this lifestyle, there was one thing that got in the way of fully experiencing a life of travel: my corporate job. Working for a major media company, I will say by American standards, I had it pretty good. Five weeks vacation a year, plus holidays. Add to that a boss that was poor at record keeping, I was able to travel a solid six weeks out of the year. Then I realized how little travel that really was.
According to vpcalendar.net, the US has the least number of paid vacation days per year. While this depends on seniority, the US averages around 13 days. That means out of 52 weeks of the year, excluding the big holidays, we get 2½ weeks a year to travel with the family. Clearly that’s not enough. Especially when you see that France averages 37 and Italy averages a whopping 42 days! Based on a five-day workweek, that’s over eight weeks a year. In the US, that simply does not happen. Even Cadillac, to symbolize American ingenuity, poked fun at this trait in a commercial.
Even though I milked all I could out of my five to six weeks a year, it was time to do something more. So in a counter-culture, against all logic, dare I say a very “unschooled” approach, I left a stable, six-figure job to simply travel with my kids. (hyperlink: http://www.lifetravelzen.com/sample-page/)
Travelling with our kids as much as we can, road-schooling if you will, opens up so many wonderful discussions. Unlike a regular standardized school structure, these are not lessons from a book, but conversations spurred on by experience. Attending Easter Mass at the Vatican gave us a great opportunity to discuss the history of the Catholic empire. While none of us are Catholic, we were able to discuss the role of religion in history and how it has affected the world. Chatting with a bartender in Stavanger, Norway about her parent’s experience in World War II opened up a conversation about how the world was shaped by the actions of one man. These history lessons came about naturally and organically through our travels.
But it’s not just history…
Visiting waterfalls and spending time in Costa Rica brought about discussions of native wildlife in that region and how it differs from our home state of Florida. Experiencing the “Midnight Sun” in the Arctic Circle lead to a discussion of how the earth’s rotation around the sun varies depending on where you are in the world. Even enjoying a pint (for the adults!) in a pub in Ireland during Saint Patrick’s Day brought about the discussion of holidays around the globe. And there are countless more. This summer we are spending three months road-tripping across America and it seems every day a new conversation is started by simply “being” where we are.
With all this travel, there are no quizzes or tests and they don’t have to feel the pressure to remember every detail in order to advance to a next level. In this way, yes we are absolutely unschooling. They simply have to be present, open and receptive and they will take away from these experiences what they were meant to. In whatever way it happens to be, these experiences will help shape their lives as they evolve into adults.
Watching these two young souls evolve is so inspiring. Their lives are being shaped by this experience. Instead of thinking about a GPA or a passing a certain grade level to prepare them for an overpriced higher education, we are not controlling their outcome. Our hope is that they simply become who they were meant to be.
Michael Sharkey, a 25 year radio veteran, left the corporate media whirlwind in early 2014 to travel full-time with his family. The Sharkey’s – Tanya, wife of 17 years, Gavin, 13 and Adelaide, 11 – have spent a month in Italy this year so far and are currently traveling across America in a small RV with their two cats. Having also traveled to Costa Rica, Norway, Ireland and all over the Caribbean, their plans hope to take them even further in the coming months and years. Michael is currently travel writing, getting international accreditation and certification as a Life Coach and blogging at www.lifetravelzen.com.Facebook.com (search Life Travel Zen)Twitter: @sharkzenpdInstagram: @sharkzenpd