There are many very expensive programs to give kids short international experience, but our extended travel lifestyle and language learning has all the best benefits without the high costs. We don't believe in debt, for college, high school or anything else as it creates entrapment.
We never pay attention to grade level with Mozart because she is usually working on several different grade levels and has always been academically advanced.
She skipped 3 grades in USA schools by extreme early entrance and she skipped 3 grades when we went from a 4th grade level at a Spanish school to 7th grade level for Chinese in Asia. Sounds strange I know, but she is a very normal kid and that is just what worked best for her at the time.
ADVANTAGES OF WORLD SCHOOL
We decided to do first grade over again when we arrived in Spain for school immersion ( and she was still the youngest in the class) so she could get the full Spanish reading and writing curriculum from 1st grade in her second language ( she was tested as reading at a 10 grade level in English at that point).
Dictato, writing and reading Spanish so deeply at six implanted it forever ( and actually helped her English writing as well as she didn't really enjoy handwriting until that daily "dictato" cursive writing in Spanish first grade. She has had to be very flexible to meet both Spanish and Chinese writing standards, which are very different than American and even numbers are written differently.
" A master in the art of living draws no
sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his
leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He
hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence
through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether is
working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both."
I sometimes wonder if this means she will be a city planner, architect, designer or if it is helping with her imaginative creative writing skills. Since we prefer to be unplugged and do slow travel, we prefer doing real things rather than doing this kind of play with an addictive video game, (although she did enjoy Zoo Tycoon some as a little one, so has the skills).
HOMESCHOOL AND TIME
We don't really care what grade she is in, only that she is learning optimally and enjoying it, but to track her, we always just use the grade she would be in if she was a typical kid her age in California. That would be 6th grade now so we consider her just finishing 6th grade. Despite her abilities, we want her to fully enjoy her childhood and our time together.
"There is no separation between living and learning. Life is
just the curriculum. Learning is our path through it."
One of the best things about homeschooling high school or middle school is the freedom one gets with it and TIME. A teenager can pursue their own interests and figure out
what they love to do and what their gifts are because they have the time
to do it, even when doing advanced course work.
She is not a high school kid yet, but things shift at this point and we are starting to look differently at our homeschooling goals as she dreams about going to Harvard or other top university. We are also open to the fact that her dreams may change as she ages and she could take a non-college route, but we think it is best to keep all options open.
Unplanned, unconscious unschooling will likely NOT get a homeschooler in a top university today, but smartly planned, child-directed, motivated learning likely can. We have friends and relatives who have done it. Rigorous academics can benefit children even if they are not planning for higher education.
She has other dreams we also want to support her getting and even supporting her skills on how to manifest big dreams. Following her lead and mentoring her growth and abilities to its potential is what we see as our parental duty.
We think learning entrepreneurship, finance and life skills are an important part of teen learning and easy to do as we travel.
She already has her first job..teaching kids Spanish here as well as English to young adults in China online and is writing a series of books about her travels for younger kids as well as a novel.
Some think travel and education only works for the primary years before middle school and high school obligations, but we think the opposite. As much as we are pleased with her grade school years of superior education and travel, we think the upcoming teen years will be even more exciting by adding world travel and I don't think we will do any more brick and motar type schooling except college classes.
We are thankful to the Chinese school here, but we are really grateful to be back to homeschooling as it really suits our family. We love the freedom, bonding and being able to make much faster progress in many areas in less time...which leaves us more time for fun.
Yessiree, just like the song says..."girls just wanna have fun" and local friends, sleep overs, pool parties, karaoke and mall shopping are all easier to fit into a homeschool schedule. What a relief too not to have to get up at 5 or 6 am and going to school 6 days a week. We can let the sun wake us between 7 and 8 which feels more natural.
We adults get more interruptions and likely less done with a high energy kid around all day and taking her places like piano lessons, but we love the spontaneous joy she adds to our daily lives as it was much too quiet in our home when she was in school.
Schools have an extraordinary amount of wasted time built into the day since it is one-size-fits-all program, endless bureaucracy and crowd control. Time
is wasted traveling to and from school, transition between classes, and waiting for the slower students to finish work. Homeschooling is immensely more efficient and tailored exactly to the child and the family, so most homeschoolers tend to be ahead of public and private school students.
Many recent studies applaud homeschoolers’ academic success, showing homeschoolers get significantly higher SAT and ACT scores, earn merit scholarships. and have higher
grade point averages as college students. Most homeschooled teens rack up massive amounts of college credits before high school gradution and some do the entire college degree before 18.
We are super proud of my homeschooled niece who graduated early from a top university this way as a chemical engineer, offered a 6 figure income job before she graduated and bought a home!
Some things are always maddening and illogical with schools.... like both the school in Penang and Spain insisted that she take what we call "baby English", ( good for the 2nd language learner) but insane for a child that is a native speaker and was already reading English at a 10th grade level at 7. She was more advanced than the teachers teaching the class, so a total waste of her time.
That said, I think she has had many more advantages by our dipping into local schools in 4 countries on 3 continents than if we just homeschooled. It has allowed her to connect deeply with the cultures, attain deep life long friendships around the world, as well as deep language fluency and literacy. Most monolingual travelers and expats miss these opportunities and we are glad we did not as you can't really know a culture with out knowing the language well.
She has gotten first hand experience through schools on what various bureaucracy environments are like world wide ( which helps her understand the corporate or government style and mentality) as well as what a more entrepreneurial/freelance environment is like when one is self directed and in more control/more responsible for one's life and learning which homeschool teaches.
A lifetime of only "unschooling" can make it hard to embrace structured institutions like top universities or some top career postitions, but her worldschooling has trained her in ultra flexibility and multiculturism that is so needed for her generation in our fast changing world.
Growing up in California as just another blue eyed blond would give her a very different perspective as would traveling without knowing the languages so well. I am glad she also missed the "bubble" of international schools that most expats do, although she is really enjoying some of that now as a homeschooler who gets a taste via their library and after school extra curric things like choir and volleyball she participates in and the friends she meets there.
She has never met so many Americans on our travels (although most have lived here most of their lives and there are lots from many other countries as well), so that has been a new experience and exciting for her. Living outside their home country and culture, the kids have things in common and she enjoys the classes and library.
Most of her work is self directed, but we guide her, plan as a family and when we need a tutor we get one. We love her Mandarin tutor who comes to our home 4 times a week and she is already far ahead of where she would be if she had stayed in school. Her old class is still plodding through the 3rd grade primary Chinese curriculum and she is now almost finished with 4th grade well on her way to complete her goal of mastering all the primary grade curriculum ( year 1 through 6 ) reading and writing Chinese.
Her language learning in childhood, leaves her far ahead of most college courses in Chinese and Spanish, so her hard work in many areas will pay off in her high school and college years via CLEP/DSST/AP Examinations.
Due to her deep fluency in Spanish and trilingual training from birth, she should be able to pretty easily master French, Portuguese, Italian and Latin as well, but we will look into/decide that more when we return to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway when she is 13.
We will start with French in Provence and Paris and see how that goes as she has wanted to learn French for a long time. She can make up her mind then if she wants to add more now or not.
I don't think she could have done as well with only a Chinese tutor in the beginning ( we tried) as the extended Chinese immersion is important, but at this point in fluency, she can zip through it much faster than the Chinese school AND we can plow ahead faster on her other areas of interest like her classic books,science, music, writing, Spanish and advanced math from Singapore.
She is a math whiz like her Dad and they enjoy that daily time together as well as swimming, sports, games, gardening, art, design, music and discussing finances or word problems etc from our life. I guide her on subjects I am strong in like literature, writing, drama, science, history, meditation, cooking, nutrition with lots of deep family discussions, debates and analysis on every possible topic.
Two parents one kid, makes guiding this self-directed child fairly easy, although I am always researching more ideas to support her. More so now as I am teaching myself how to best homeschool high school and as usual, we are making it up as we go. It is a fascinating topic I could read about all day.
We think of everything as homeschooling so consciously pick daily choices that support her from playing chess, doing jig saw puzzles, art projects, daily fun jumping rope contests ( that support bone health), exploring the cultures here, science projects, games, reading Shakespeare or poems aloud, watching good movies, Tedtalks and home movies in our leisure time etc etc etc.
These things and our travel lifestyle, help her learn how to communicate with others, research, think, analyze,
write, create, make good decisions, and problem-solve. We think in terms of preparing her, but also educating her for generations to come by passing on the life long learning passion and going for excellence and optimal with ease and grace.
Stanford, Northwestern, U. Miami, and U. Nebraska all have accredited
online high schools, so we could possibly dip into them if needed. Some say to skip high school and even college, so we are looking at it all and still forming our high school plan.
[from homeschoolers] I've come across are outstanding. Homeschoolers
have a distinct advantage because of the individualized instruction they
have received."- Dartmouth College admissions officer
Luckily, homeschoolers are actively recruited by schools like Harvard University, Stanford, MIT,
Duke and Dartmouth, but the competition for everyone today ( especially as we prefer a top Uni and full scholarship) is extremely challenging and it pays off to stand out.
"Homeschoolers who are accepted to highly selective
colleges typically have worked exceptionally hard at developing their
talents and have very strong academic and extracurricular profiles Successful homeschool applicants usually have performed well in
challenging courses, have very high test scores, and have well developed
extracurricular talents." Barbara Hettle
This has turned into an epic post, so I can see, I will have to write a whole series on this topic for those of you interested. What would you like to know about homeschooling high school with world travel?