And how it is going to change the world.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s time.” — Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It.
The term “ world schooling” is being used more and more these days. The stories of world schooling families taking gap years to travel the world with kids are not news anymore. When I first came across this term, I instantly felt inspired. A part of me wished we were a world schooling family.
I did not realize, at that time, that we already were a world schooling family, just not full-time. And little did I know, that about a year from discovering the “world schooling” term we would be planning our family gap year around the world.
So, what is world schooling? It can mean different things to different people. For me, it means traveling with your children outside of your home country and learning about the world and its diversity firsthand.
Our children do learn some things about the world at school, but they are also taught to be patriots, big time. We have become so global and interconnected in such a short period of time, that it is imperative that our kids learn to embrace and love the big and diverse world we live in.
I also hope and dream that this is how our future generations will have an easier time tackling the world problems of the 21st century: by being more world-schooled, more globally aware and knowledgeable, more inspired and compassionate…
There are many different ways to world school. It can also become stages: once you take a few short trips, you are ready to go for more. Some parents take year-long trips away from home with kids, and it is not considered crazy any more.
This is how it has been for us. After a few shorter trips, we feel brave enough to venture out for an entire family gap year.
The most important aspect of world schooling is that you take your child OUTSIDE of the home country. “Travel schooling” or “road schooling” may or may not involve travelling abroad.
When you take your kids outside of the county, they learn and experience other cultures with all their senses. Think of all the different languages, foods, lifestyles, history, nature, music, and so on.
The most beautiful thing about world schooling is that you bond with your child over these experiences abroad and make memories together.
World Schooling During School Breaks
World Schooling does not have to be full-time. And parents certainly don’t have to be digital nomads to afford world schooling.Word schooling can happen part-time, and the world schooling trips can happen during summer, winter, the short spring school break, or an extended weekend.
If you are on the East Coast of the US, like us, I would recommend driving up to Quebec, Canada.
We once packed our four children and the dog in the car, and drove for 12 hours from Washington D.C. to Montreal, Canada. We could have flown into Montreal, and Montreal is very easy to navigate through public transportation. For the the six of us, plus the service dog, driving was the best option.
It was my first trip to Canada ever after living in the US for 15 years, and it was fantastic! We felt the French culture everywhere: the architecture, the food, people not rushing.
When you walk into a cafe in Montreal you may notice calm French Canadian parents, sipping hot wine, while their children are devouring hot cocoa topped with whipped cream…Dreamy…
And here we are, loud and always on-the-go Americans…It felt good to slow down for a change!
Another option to world school locally, if you are in the US, is to drive down to Mexico. A friend of mine, while visiting the west coast with her kids, drove down to Mexico to let the kids see the neighboring country.
Summers are great for world schooling because you can go somewhere for a month or two during school break. Some people go to multiple countries, while some go to one country.
In the summer of 2017 I world schooled my kids in Moldova, in the country I was born. I braved up and flew with my four children to visit my grandmother for the entire month. I chose one location, and that meant that the kids got a deeper feel of the town. They got used to its town center, the open market; they made friends with the neighborhood kids.
The next year we world schooled in Uruguay for 2 months. This time we rented a small apartment, and I enrolled my two middle girls in the local private bilingual school. My kids met new friends, picked up a little bit of Spanish, got attached to the local beach spots, the town park, the cafes. I can say that we didn’t just visit Uruguay. We actually LIVED there. We didn’t feel like tourists.
School year in Central America and South America runs from March to December. So, the local schools are open when the kids in North America have summer breaks. Nowadays, there are a lot of private bilingual schools in expat communities in Central and South America. These schools are definitely worth the experience.
Family Gap Year
Family gap year is a way of world schooling similar to the one described above, but it does take a longer time. It will also require more time and efforts.
People take 1–2 year-long adventures, aka midlife “mini-retirements” or a “family gap year”. We are finally comfortable considering it and planning for it. Why not take the time now to spend with the kids, and not wait till you are old to travel the world?
I am absolutely inspired by some families already doing this. A family gap year abroad, as cool as it sounds, does impose some constraints on the income flow part. Some people get work-from-home jobs, others take a year-long sabbatical and use savings.
By going to one location, you are going to bond with that one place and one culture of your choice, and form a deeper attachment. You may or may not choose to enroll the kids in a local school. And if you don’t, and ther eis always the homeschooling or unschooling option.
So far I love this way to world school for a year in one place. It allows you to have plenty of free time for hiking and exploring locally.
World Schooling around the world for a year or two may be the official dream-come-true way of world schooling.
Some people choose not to wait till retirement to travel around the world, register their kids as home-schooled, and travel around the globe choosing any of countries they want to see.
This is also one of the ways to spend a family gap year. I think it a great idea and a way to reconnect as a family, have a fresh look at priorities and lifestyles, values and interests.
The bucket list of travel destinations does not have to wait until some major life crisis or diagnosis. It also does not have to be expensive, crazy, or stressful.
I truly admire the inspiring families who have done this or think about doing something like this.
World Schooling Around the World Indefinitely
This is the bravest and the most adventure-rich way some people choose to live and raise their kids.
While some children can be enrolled in different local schools depending on the location, most parents opt to homeschool or unschool, which allows for most flexibility to travel.
Some parents may choose to have a home base or two, while others choose to not be tied to any specific location.
I certainly think that while most people now would still think that world schooling is crazy because kids need stability, I can see more and more people doing this in the near future as the word gets around.
Whichever option you choose, be it a 4-day Montreal trip or a family gap year, you are giving your kids a chance to learn about other ways of life by letting them actually do it and live it.
When our kids are young, they see the world with no stereotypes or limits, they see the beauty of “different” and the universal nature of values that are so, unsurprisingly, the same across the human world.
The learning opportunities of world schooling are irreplaceable. There is so much knowledge the cultures around the world have to share with each other. And there is so much to learn from the world about sustainability and simple living, which are some of the pressing issues of today.