How to Homeschool Through Travel With a Gifted Child
September 12, 2012
Can combining travel and homeschool enhance education for a gifted kid? We think world travel is the best possible education for all children in our shrinking world and particularly beneficial for asynchronous development, advanced learners and gifted, creative families. How do you homeschool a gifted child through travel?
Roadschool? Worldschool? Virtual? We do a hybrid homeschool method using many approaches to education and suited to our family and trilingual child who also plays two instruments as we roam the world. There are endless ways to use travel to educate, but books geared to the travel , lots of first hand experiences, keeping a journal and lots of time for family discussion are all keys.
WHY MIX HOMESCHOOL AND TRAVEL
We've been traveling the world as a family non-stop for seven years now and it's been the best decision of our lives and has far surpassed our wildest dreams as far as benefits and enrichment. We travel the world primarily to educate our daughter, raise her as a global citizen and have much more quality and quantity time together since kids grow up so fast. Home education ( as the Brits call it) suits all of us as we are out-of-the-box, divergent thinkers. We've just decided that the world is our home and maximum freedom our calling.
"Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion" - Hunt
We would never have been able to give her so much on our small budget without world travel. It is a dream life available to almost any ordinary family today because you don't have to be rich to live a rich life. You also don't have to wait until they are teens or in college to study abroad as there are so many advantages for younger school age children.
Our daughter was five when we began our family world trip and she will soon be twelve, so we have extensive experience in this realm having been to 44 countries on 5 continents so far and doing it all on a low budget of $23/day per person.
Many of these countries have been deeply and thoroughly explored repeatedly over many years, so we've seen much more of Europe than most Europeans. There is hardly a book she reads or film she sees that she doesn't have first hand experience with the places mentioned and we've lost count of all the UNESCO World Heritage sites we've explored. The advanced reading skills of a gifted child helps them be a big part of the planning phase of travel even at a young age.
We're monolingual parents raising her as a fluent-as-a-native trilingual/triliterate from birth thanks to slow travel and our ultimate family adventure that also gives her profound, long term friendships around the world. Meeting all her needs are important to us as well as giving her a solid foundation.
With fluent Mandarin, Spanish and English, she can communicate with 75% of the people on the planet and read thier best literature, plus she wants to add French next ,so that percentage will increase. Just her experience of knowing her way around subways/mass transit in NYC, Singapore, Paris, Sydney, London, San Francisco, Budapest, Stockholm etc as well as cargo ships, trains, planes, buses, distant biking etc has been a valuable education. She had never even even ridden on a bus before we left.
It is easier than ever today to do extended long-term travel thanks to tech, so most anyone can school or work ANY where if that is your priority (fulltime or part time), thus more and more families are doing just that. The world as your classroom...literally!
"I can't think of anything that excites a
greater since of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are
ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again."
CHALLENGES WITH GIFTED KIDS
Our daughter showed exceptionally gifted signs early: taught herself to read at two, crawled all over at 4 months, walked and talked in two languages at 6 months with 5 syllable words in each, was a puzzle master before a year old, started violin at 23 months and piano at 3 and much more. Like many gifted kids she also had sensory processing issues and had a severe feeding problem, (so was never on the weight chart) and we spent a lot of time with occupational therapy and doctor visits.
One doctor told us she was developmentally like a 10 month old at 5 months and another M.D Pediatrician told us she was developmentally like an 18 month old at 9 months ( none of the doctors, even at Stanford Hospital, had ever seen a child like this which shocked me). Best advice I was given was to treat her like her developmental age instead of actual age, so even in babyhood and preschool years we had many exceptions based on her advanced abilities.
Thus, we had lots of warnings that we would have challenges trying to fit this square peg in the round-hole limitations of most schools. I must admit it was quite frightening and overwhelming at first, until we decided to travel the world together. It's been the perfect choice for us!
Most people don't realize that meeting the needs of a very gifted child can be as challenging as any special needs case. I don't like labels, so don't usually use the G word. She was tested as reading at a 3rd grade level when she was 3 ( her teacher wanted to do that as she had never seen it before and was incredulous).
I sat in on a 1st grade class at a gifted school that year she was 3 and my heart sank when I saw how far ahead she was of those bright 6 and 7 year olds. We tried long established Montessori and Waldorf schools, did a private kindegarten and one of the top rated public schools in California three years early, ( neither school had ever taken one so young and she has always been very tiny for her age), but we just couldn't find a good fit, until we decided to homeschool ...and do it around the world.
Full time travel might not be the solution for everyone, but I know many gifted families that thrive on using travel as part of their homeschooling agenda. I encourage folks to think bigger, more exotic and longer ( extended travel saves money and the slower pace is more enriching) and to know that it is easier and cheaper today than ever before and needed in our fast changing global world.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR USING HOMESCHOOL AND TRAVEL WITH A GIFTED KID
UNSCHOOL, CLASSICAL, VIRTUAL, ECLECTIC, GIFTED CLASSES AND LANGUAGE IMMERSION
Like many advanced learners, our daughter is globally gifted, extremely energetic, creative, a voracious book reader and likes to initiate her own learning, so we do mostly child-led activities and unschool, but have done some classical and eclectic educational things as well as virtual classes for piano, violin ( via Skype with teachers on other continents) and gifted classes like Johns Hopkins University CTY online and in person ( next summer we'll do some in Hong Kong). She has been to many of the best museums in the world..which we all love.
We've also dipped into local schools for language immersion in Spain and Penang for Chinese and will do this soon in China. You can't get a language this deep without this kind of committment to immersion and time. I am not really crazy about schools usually,( too many rules, restrictions and one-size-fits-all) but this method of hybrid learning combining homeschool with schools on three continents has added so much for us on many levels.
Since she is only in the school for language, long-term friends and cultural immersion and we do it for short time periods ( returning over years), I don't have to worry if they are meeting all of her gifted needs. Right now she is learning physics and Algebra in Mandarin with her gifted class in Asia, but this is after 10 straight months of unschooling in Europe and the USA. Besides long-term friends, things like elocution contests, choir, tea ceremony and participating in local festivals etc.. enrich.
Fully experiencing local schools on 3 continents gives her a global perspective that very few get ( quite different than an international school bubble and I think more enriching than homeschooling travel alone where it would be almost impossible to master the written language well or have long term friends in foreign lands. )
"Broad, wholesome, charitable views
of men and things cannot be aquired by vegetating in one little corner
of the earth all one's lifetime." Mark Twain"
It took us a while to wrap our brain around this idea of a travel lifestyle at first, but with research and planning, then adjusting as we go, we think we've found the best possible education for our child. Interestingly, by giving her this extraordinary life, in many ways we have allowed her to have a very normal life with lots of time with family and friends.
Is there anything more you would like to know? How do you use travel with your child's education?