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Family Travel, Homeschool, Education & Global Students

April 06, 2010

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Family travel is the best education in the world and if you do slow travel and extended travel internationally, by designing a lifestyle that is location independent, the world becomes your classroom.Today it is easier than ever to give your child a world class education to prepare them to be global citizens of the 21st century on as little as 23 dollars a day per person.

That is what we have been living on since 2006, so know it can be done and the educational advantages have been astounding! Today you can live, work and school ANY where and this trend will only grow as the new economy and technology makes it easier and easier. This is part two in our ongoing "world school" education series. Many top educational innovators admit schools are not meeting the needs of students with the 21st century skills that they will have to have to thrive in the future.

"The jobs that these kids in school will be having, do not call for this kind of right-answer-vending-machine approach.They will be doing work that calls on their artistic abilities, that calls on their abilities of synthesis, that calls on their abilities of understanding the context, that calls on their abilities of working in teams, that calls on their abilities in some sense to be multi-disciplinary, multi-lingual, multi-cultural." Daniel Pink


"So the coin of the realm is not memorizing the facts that they are going to need for the rest of their lives. The coin of the realm will be

*do you know how to find information,

*do you know how to validate it,

*do you know how to synthesize it,

*do you know how to leverage it,

*do you know how to communicate it,

*do you know how to collaborate with it,

*do you know how to problem solve with it.

That is the new 21st century set of literacies and it looks a lot different than the model that most of us were raised under." Clay Christensen

I think this article about the collapse of complex business models by Clay Shirky explains a big part of our global transition now and why big, complex school systems set up for the industrial age, just no longer work and will continue to collapse and not serve our needs. 

That is our daughter at 7 years old in the top picture at Cambridge University in the U.K., devouring a Harry Potter book as we prepare to take a traditional punt down the River Cam. Books, real world experience, free time to explore one's creativity, immersing deeply in other languages, simplicity and online learning make long term travel truly ideal as a way to prepare kids for the future.

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Creating at the Junibacken Museum in Stockholm where we bought lots of books not available in U.S.


AFRAID TO HOMESCHOOL?

It is not uncommon for homeschooling to sound scary or intimidating...it was for us as well, before we began...but just like extended travel or independent travel, it is MUCH easier than most people realize. There are also many online schools and courses if you prefer that method.

It really is a false fear that you can not facilitate your child's learning which every good parent does from conception.Who helped facilitate your child to learn to walk or talk?? Parents are the primary educators of their children & every good parent should take full responsibility for their child's education, even if you do use schools. No teacher will ever love your child like you do & love/passion are the greatest tools to learning. It's really about trusting yourself and trusting your child. Learning is easy and natural.

“What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where we think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out.” — John Holt

Kids, all humans are geared to learn and parents have always been the first teachers. Most brain development takes place in the first 5 years..so most parents do all or most of the teaching/education in that time period! The rest is a piece of cake in comparison! It's really less about teaching and more about fascilitating or guiding and there are endless, free resources and support online for every age.

"This faith is that by nature people are learning animals. Birds fly; fish swim; humans think and learn. Therefore, we do not need to motivate children into learning by wheedling, bribing, or bullying. We do not need to keep picking away at their minds to make sure they are learning. What we need to do - and all we need to do - is to give children as much help and guidance as they need and ask for, listen respectfully when they feel like talking, and then get out of the way. We can trust them to do the rest."John Holt

Did you know the literacy rate was higher BEFORE compulsory schooling began when most taught their own kids? Old ways of the industrial revolution, no longer serve in the internet/digital revolution & education/schools are going through a paradigm shift. I won't even speak to the major problems with funding schools in this new economy or the insane, crippling debt that too many go into to get a college education, except to say there are ways around these.

I am not against schools and know a ton of amazing teachers including a niece who does remarkable work with disadvantaged and slow learners, but like most things, just blindly following the status quo, will rarely give you the best results. Embracing homeschooling/roadschooling can add a lot to your freedom (who wants to be tied to a school's schedule to time travel only at peak prices?) as well as greater bonding/ quality AND quantity time as a family.

“Nothing is REAL about what kids learn in school…they basically learn
 school-survival skills that are only useful in that setting, and when taken 
out into the *real* world, they are not so useful, effective or ~ more 
important ~ they are not the tools one needs in order to truly know one’s
 Self and to live a rich, full life.” — Anne Ohman

Some of the most brilliant people in history were homeschooled by ordinary parents. Most schools are meant to teach conformity which is the LAST thing that future 21st century global citizens will need.

"As a student in a digital world, tell me again why I need the building? The administration? The system?
I don’t. And as accreditation becomes less meaningful because it’s easier to test the student than to test the system, the top heavy organizations will falter. And fast." Seth Godin

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Reading on a train in Norway

For us, the only real value to school is language/culture immersion in a foreign land, connecting deeply with local families through the local school and friend consistency while doing world travel (returning yearly for a few months)...but we also picked a school where we can come or go as we please, do an incomplete school year, & it has a very short school day. We'll do the same when we pick a school in Asia next winter to immerse in Mandarin Chinese.

“The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school.” — George Bernard Shaw

How can I connect with my children today, bring joy into their lives, expand their worlds, nurture and encourage what they love to do?’ That’s my guideline. That and the dear hearts of my dear children. — Anne Ohman


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Having lunch and recess with a friend from UK in Barcelona after roadshooling some Singapore math


WHAT ABOUT FRIENDS?

This often seems to be a common concern from those who have never homeschooled, but it is just not a problem. In fact, many studies show that homeschooled kids are actually better "socialized" than many schooled kids. Based on all the homeschooled kids that I have known, including my twenty something niece who graduated years early from a top University in Chemical Engineering with a 6 figure job waiting for her, I have seen the truth of this in real life over and over again.

I see our digital nomad lifestyle as a great ADVANTAGE in socialization. Our child has had MORE opportunities to socialize with people of every age from so many countries, in several languages. We do take her needs seriously, so have created a system that gives her long term consistency, but feel it is a huge advantage that she is not confined to an artificial, age-specific peer group. She is capable now of making friends instantly with every age and has established lifelong connections around the globe. We also cherish the extra bonding time together.

“It is never too late to build family foundations,” says Dr. Nicholas Levy, a pediatrician affiliated with the Univ. of California, San Diego, who advocates traveling sabbaticals for families. “Travel, particularly international travel, exposes families to different lifestyles that intrinsically bring families together.” “Adaptation and accommodation are probably the most valuable lessons that we can teach our children,” Levy says.

I’m a big fan of John Taylor Gatto (an award winning teacher) & love this article about why schools don’t educate. One of the worse things about schools (and the typically busy, over scheduled American life)  is that they leave no time to develop a sense of self. Schools were made for industrialization and simply no longer work for what we need in these exponential times of the 21st century.

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A full day of bike explorations in a huge park in Dublin with an Irish friend

I talked about this in one of our very first posts called "Timing Is Everything". We believe in the value of attachment parenting  not only for babies ,but as a way of life since parents are much more important than peers and conscious parenting can help create a more peaceful world. 

"In a society that values its economy over culture, the book states, the building of strong adult/child attachments gets lost in the shuffle. Multiple play dates, day care, preschool and after school activities groom children to transfer their attachment needs from adults to their peers. They become what the authors call "peer oriented." The result is that they squelch their individuality, curiosity and intelligence to become part of a group whose members attend school less to learn than to socialize. And these same children are bullying, shunning and murdering each other, as well as committing suicide, at increasing rates." Publishers Weekly about "Hold on to Your Kids".

"We should not be shocked then by the Smithsonian Report on genius which offered a three-part recipe for high achievement, consisting of 1) much time spent with warm, responsive parents and other adults, 2) very little time spent with peers, and  3) a great deal of free exploration under parental guidance." Dr Raymond Moore


In the next decade 60% of schools will be virtual. More and more jobs will be virtual as well. Flexible out-of-the-box multi-lingual global thinking citizens will do better in our coming world. The more we do this, the more I see what a fabulous way it is to learn and prepare for the future.

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Feeding and catching baby ducklings in Bordeaux, France with friends from several countries


Most schools do a remarkably poor job of recognizing and rewarding future achievers...The standards of success in school have very little to do with standards thereafter. What did predict economic success was a willingness to take chances, more educational systems honor those who play it safe...The ones who do take chances have a hard time in school and are often penalized for their independent ways" Farson and Keyes

We are creating a one size fits all system that needlessly brands many young people as failure, when they might thrive if offered a different education whose progress was measured differently. Paradoxically we're embracing standardized tests just when the economy is eliminating standardized jobs." Robert Reich Former US Labor Secretary


HOW DO YOU MAKE IT WORK?

We are strong believers in child led learning, that we are ALWAYS learning and that the whole  world is our child's classroom. I suppose you could call us eclectic unschoolers. We always have wonderful books, creative supplies & learning tools around that she can choose at will and expose her to fun learning opportunities where ever we go. This costs less and takes up less space than you would imagine.

 Unschooling is primarily about process not content. The process of learning, the process of knowing yourself, openness, confidence, self-determination, independent thinking, critical thinking...none of which one gets when following other people's agenda.Making one's own agenda is what it is about. Again this is done , not in isolation, but in the context of one's family and community. - Joel Hawthorne

Our child is an advanced learner so can go at her own pace which is many years above her grade level. We homeschool a small amount daily at her level in English all year round and also use the local school in Spain for 4/5 months out of the year for deep immersion into her 2nd language, literature & culture. We discussed more homeschooling details in this post.

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"World schooling" on a train ride in the UK, writing about recent events & reading

We plan to also immerse her into a 3rd language-Mandarin Chinese in the same way when we get to Asia this fall. Much of her homeschooling is done through her reading (geared to our travels) & other ways where she just thinks she is having fun. Below I will leave links including a great one about books that are fantastic  to combine with travel and an exciting thread (rich with links) about homeshooling/roadschooling/worldschooling older children including teens and tweens.

We also do her piano and violin lessons via Skype webcam from two different  teachers on another continent and do classes with John Hopkin’s University CTY program online and other online opportunities. Digital libraries and Brainpop are great fun for traveling homeschoolers too. There are a ton of free educational games online like this family travel one or this kid's typing one, but we also spend much time off line on old fashion games like Monopoly ( in Spanish), Set, Uno, Charades, Match ( using Unesco World Heritage Sites)  etc and playing soccer, tennis, swimming and biking etc and always creating together and separately in many diverse ways.

Tips for getting started: Read John Taylor Gatto and John Holt (”father” of unschooling).

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World schooling in Barcelona between swimming, biking & playing with friends

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Ann Lombardi - The Trip Chicks

Wonderful post chocked full of wisdom, Jeanne! It is my deepest wish that many more parents the world over could see the amazing benefits of a global education for their children.

So glad too you shared Maya Frost's link. Her book is a goldmine and makes a super present for parents seeking a broader, more affordable, superior way to educate their children.

So, tonight I raise my glass in a toast to world education! May more American youth become true citizens of the grand planet we share, and their parents show them the path. Cheers, Ann

Susan

Jeanne,

I LOVE YOUR SITE!! How I wish I could load the 7 of us on a plane right now and come to Spain.

I'd love to chat with you about how you keep an income going while traveling. That is our family's biggest concern at this point, but one I know we can overcome.

To say that your blog/site has kept me awake at night is an understatement.

Many blessings to you as you travel and educate your daughter. I hope we can meet up someday...overseas!

MummyT

Hey Jeanne,

Did you always have this philosophy, or did you discover it as you travelled?

I'm fairly new to all this, but with the exception of the socialisation aspect -- and I wonder whether schooling, be it formal schooling, or the more flexible type you have found in Spain provides an invaluable chance for children to form their own friendships, outside the sphere of parental intervention -- I would agree that roadschooling is infinitely superior.

Out of interest, what do you do in areas where M's interest and knowledge exceeds your own? I'm thinking, in my case, of science, since the arts come easily to me, and learning these subjects is easy too.

Do you go and learn yourselves so that you can keep up to her pace? And what about the subjects that she doesn't want to learn? Are there any? Do you discard them?

A great post, anywise, and thanks a lot... I'm going to go away and think some more...

http://www.travelswithanineyearold.com

Julie Gibbons

Yay! I just updated our own unschooling education philosophy today, Jeanne ...

You three are an inspiration to us three. Love the energy you inject into *everything* ...

soultravelers3

Ann-Thanks so much for your kind and supportive words! We are so on the same page!! I adore Maya & will review her book as soon as I get it. We've become good friends & have just had a hard time getting the book, seems to have gotten lost. But I know it is fab & can't wait to read it along with her new one! She has been a great help with my book process.

Susan- Welcome! Thanks so much & I can't tell you how great it is to hear this kind of feedback. It's often hard to tell in cyberspace who is listening and what exactly they want to hear.

Income while being a traveling digital nomad family has it's challenges, but living on little helps that a LOT. So many great peeps online now showing ways to do it. I've heard of families teaching English or Woofing & loving it too. Having a backup nest egg gives some security too & 4HWW gives lots of tips.

Build that ramp to where you want to go! More resources today on the "how to" more than ever. Look at the links I have to families that did extended travel - one did it with 8 kids and a grandpa!! They lived on beans for a few years to save money, but it was worth it for them.

Let's meet overseas! ;)

MummyT- Great questions, I could do a whole blog post or two on them! Maybe I will soon. Quick answers:

I have always had this basic philosophy, but it certainly has been deeply affected by our travels & the early adopter web influencers/innovators in business, education etc that we have met through our digital nomadic life. The experience has affected our philosophy & my confidence. I didn't expect it to be this fantastic.

M is FAR ahead of us in MANY subjects, but we find we can still guide her & sometimes we use mentors or teachers like with music or languages. Sometimes, often, we learn together as we go.

Social media can be a great help, like we could not find a violin teacher & so were floundering for a while with our very limited knowledge, far behind hers. I kept asking & then found an AMAZING teacher thru Twitter!

Crowdsourcing can often mean, ask & you shall receive. I've also found her great & free help for her Mandarin by asking. etc.

I've often found that it is often not a subject that one doesn't want to learn, but HOW it is being taught, so try to find fun ways to learn everything. If she is resistant to something & I think it is an important area, I use that as feedback to find another way to approach it.

There is a ton of great science things online, have you tried them? Also look for possible mentors in person or online, maybe at a Univ as you travel? We went out of our way to find & talk to archaeologists & marine biologists on our travels etc which were very rewarding.

Julie- Aw, thanks so much! Looks like we have a lot in common! ;)

jessiev

BRAVA! jeanne, i've loved following your journey for years now. but this? this really resonates with me. i get so tired of having to explain WHY we unschool, why our daughter is so full of life and creative and unstifled, and why we choose to travel and explore together. you've nailed it. i'll just send them here. :)

thank you!

soultravelers3

Jessiev- Since you are an educator first and foremost, with so many years of experience, I really appreciate your input! I'm always amazed at how many teachers and professors homeschool and unschool their children. Keep learning, exploring & traveling! ;)

Amanda

I am the mom of a 6 year old. She is almost through her 2nd year of kindergarten.... yes 2nd. All because I taught my daughter not to talk to strangers and, because she was 2 weeks 2 young for 1st grade, had to take a dibbles assesment. She did not answer the questions because I taught her not to talk to strangers... So we are considering the home school life. I could use all the help I can get! THis site has helped open my eyes. Thank you.

Penne and the CanDo! Crew  :o)a

Fabulous addition to the Network, Jeanne ~ thanks so much for posting the update on Facebook!! Love the topper on Ms. Mozart in the opening photo ;-)

Big Hugs and Happy Travelers to all you kindred Souls ~

Penne & the Crew
iLearn in Freedom Network

Penne and the CanDo! Crew  :o)

Grammar check! *Happy Travels to all you kindred Souls ~
HAND-pda

soultravelers3

Amanda- I'm so glad that you found us and we were a help to you! It could be that you have been handed a blessing in disguise. I find working with schools, even some of the very best, frustrating to say the least, because they deal in "group think" and standardization. There is usually almost no flexibility. Even here in Spain, my daughter has to take English ( what I call baby English because it is the bare minimum like learning numbers and simple phrases/words) with her Spanish class, even though she was tested at being able to read at a high school level in English at 7 years old. Ridiculous. But trying to be an exception in any school is almost always an exhausting struggle.

You might like this quote:

My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school. – Margaret Mead

Good luck!

Dana

My daughter and I just watched your video. Wow! What a great way to live!

My daughter is 9 and we've homeschooled since the beginning. We travel as often as possible - usually about 3 trips a year. We just went overseas for the first time last summer - to Ireland & Scotland for 2 weeks. I would love to travel more extensively!

Also, we do online classes. It's a great way to learn!

I'm looking forward to following your blog.

soultravelers3

Penne- Thanks! So glad to be learning in freedom! ;)

Dana- So glad that you found us! I haven't really connected enough yet with the homeschool community online & I would like to as it is certainly a passion for me as I see it is with you! Travel and homeschooling is such a perfect combination, isn't it?

Corey Heller

Love the post, love it! Makes me want to sell the house and go! We love our bilingual homeschooling adventure (German and English) but I'd sure love to add location-independent income to the mix. That would be PERFECT! We keep aiming for it... one of these days!

Thank you for your wonderful posts - such inspiration! It is infective!

Warmly,
Corey

soultravelers3

Corey - Thanks so much for your kind words & enthusiasm!

Keep your eye on the prize of extended travel & location independence & you will get there!

Melissa

Thank you so much for this post. I love this and I am so inspired! I hope to cross paths with your Family in the future.

J. Is A Bird

Great article and fantastic advice. While we haven't been able to travel with our children as much as we'd like, but we try to be a "traveler" wherever we are.

We try to give our children a variety of experiences. We visit new museums, festivals, local tourist spots and every park we can find. All in a effort to show them different things as often as possible. We're fortunate to live in Los Angeles, so everyday can bring something or someone new into their lives.

Cheers!
J.

Alexandra

Jeanne, I love your site and have powered through much of your material in the last couple of months - it's so inspiring! I can't tell you how much of an impact your site has had on my view of my future!

You mention that you have created a system that gives Mozart a long term consistency. I'd love to know what the system is, how you came up with it, how much it varies due to circumstances (such as a block of fast paced touring) and if it has developed over time. This is an area of great interest to me and I'd love to know your thoughts!!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

@Mellisa Thanks, me too!

@J. Is A Bird -You are right, there are so many opportunities to explore even in just one place! Many forget to take advantages of such.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Alexandra - Thanks so much for your kind words, we are thrilled to know that we have inspired you and others.

I have written quite a bit about our system and that we are primarily unschoolers who encourage child led learning. I will keep writing more as I have time.

We do make it up as we go and adapt to changes as they come up. Obviously we do less "formal schooling" when we are moving faster, but then the experiences themselves enrich us and we do more "formal schooling" when we are doing long stays.

We try to keep up with a page or two of math and basic practice on violin ( plus piano if we are touring in RV or have a piano at our disposal where we stay) and journal writing even with fast travel, but don't always get that in.

My kid is a compulsive reader and bookaholic ( something I value and have encouraged from pregnancy on as I am the same) so just providing her good books, does tremendous things for her education too. She just thinks it is fun.

We monitor online time and what she does online as we think living life in the now and books are the best ways to learn, though some digital practice in productive ways today also has value. We almost never watch TV even though we are often in places with TV's.

Our system is basically unschool and travel half the year and immerse in a language in one place for several winters the other half. We did this in a small village in Spain for 4 years and now we have just completed our first winter in tropical Asia where she is immersing in her Mandarin at an all Chinese school and loving it.We will probably do several more winters here and may also do a longer stay in China at some point.

Chelsea

Thank you! Is all i can really think of to say right now. I have been very interested in traveling the world for a few years now, (only 19 years old). Have been researching almost daily on how to make it possible. Discovering your site has really got me re-thinking my whole future. In a VERY GOOD way though!!
Thank you so much! I truly cannot wait to dive head first into your whole site!

Molly

What an inspiration this website is, Jeanne! I am a teacher and have two young daughters, one of whom is in her first year of "school".
Her enthusiasm and creativity and confidence has been bound up very tightly by the national curriculum, the teachers inability to meet individual needs, or Childrens needs in general, and she is often completely bored with school, coming home exhausted and miserable from having to "be quiet", and perform irrelevant& meaningless "educational activities and tasks", usually via the all- inspiring "worksheet". My husband and I are thinking of taking our family out of school & overseas for a year, to trial this idea of yours. We have pondered for years & I think it's a perfect time.. While they are still young & untainted by restrictive & shallow "curriculum"/schooling. My only worry is becoming "detached" from family & friends and being able to afford life in Europe for a year. How do you fund your long-term travel?
Thankyou for helping inspire other families in the world to go on this real-learning journey.

Leslie

We homeschool presently and LOVE the flexiblilty. My question is this...we would love to take homeschooling "on the road", but our kids are heavy in to their sports (soccer, basketball and wrestling). They are 8 and 10. How do we continue the love of their sports and their sports friends and still be able to travel at the same time?

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Molly, sorry for the super late reply, but I spend most of my time off line and am working on healing, so somehow missed this. ( Easy to do with comments on older posts).

I hear ya with the school problems and encourage you to trust and follow your heart ( prepare well).

We fund our travels by retiring early and actually live MUCH cheaper ( 25K a year total) as we travel the world than we ever did while living in USA.

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2010/06/early-retirement-perpetual-travel-radical-early-retirement-with-kids-rtw-family-travel-multiyear.html

We lived under our means for many years and sold everything to add to our nest egg and freedom. It was a risk, but one of the best we have ever taken.

That said, there are MANY ways to fund travel and many families doing it on the road now ( tens of thousands in USA and many around the world). Check out the website "families on the road".

Free webcam skype calls and tech ( and visits) makes it easy today to stay in touch with family and friends EVERYWHERE!

Happy planning!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Hey Leslie,

Yeah, homeschooling rocks...and I think even more so on the road. ;)

If there is a will, there is always a way.

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2011/02/kids-friends-travel-on-the-ultimate-family-adventure.html

The way we take our homeschool on the road, sports has not been a problem.

Kids around the world LOVE sports so that is easy to do ANY where.

If you do slow travel ( or even a combo of fast and slow travel) or regular return visits to "homes around the world" you just join the local team while there and reconnect with those friends.

This will expand them in MANY ways. Can you imagine playing soccer in countries that are obsessed with it?

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2010/06/world-cup-football-soccer-in-europe-with-friends.html


It is easy. Just like homeschool, the flexibility allows you to make your world trip tweaked to what ever works best for YOUR family.

My daughter did soccer, rock climbing, swimming, basketball, skiing in Spain and does fencing, swimming, soccer, baseball, sailing, bowling, etc in Asia ( along with violin, piano, drama and singing lessons and choir).

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2012/12/skiing-in-southern-spain.html

Kids and families are not so different around the world. So if you want a sports focused road school, go for it!!

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