As a freelancing mama who stopped teaching to stay home with her two kiddos, I sometimes go against the grain. And when I heard about worldschooling, I was fascinated.
Worldschooling involves gaining an education through travel. But after delving deeper into the subject, I found that it's so much more than that. I don't know if this alternative education is right for my family, so I want to find out more.
Like a lot of parents, when looking into something for the first time, I view all of my options and gather the research. So here are a few questions that we can explore together. Who knows? Worldschooling might just be something we’ll both consider.
What is Worldschooling?
You’d think there’d be a clear-cut answer to this one, but there’s not.
However, the name, Eli Gerzon popped up on several occasions. He claims to be the founder of this hip new term and defines worldschooling as “when the whole world is your school, instead of school being your whole world.”
Okay, although I appreciate the definition, it opens up a lot of doors. That’s why I enjoyed Jennifer Lach’s article, “Worldschooling: What is it and What Can We Learn From It?” She explores the different ways that parents make worldschooling work.
Lach explains that some parents decide to have a home base and then travel. This way they have a common ground and can still follow familiar educational laws. Other parents might enroll their child in different schools for short spans of time around the world.
Then other parents throw out a structured curriculum entirely and unschool. Now a commonly used term, unschooling refers to when children build their own curriculum by examining their surroundings.
With all the options, it’s evident that there’s not a one size fits all to worldschooling.
For me, I’d consider a family gap year. It’s when families take their kiddos out of school and hit the road for a year before returning home. This option interests me because it might be probable for us. After all, as a freelancing mama, I do have the luxury of working wherever there’s internet access.
But my husband has a job that requires him to be here: conundrum. Although this doesn't rule out a year of worldschooling in the future, it would require some creative thinking. Darn it, we have a mortgage too. Maybe we could rent the house out?
I’m reflecting while writing and also illustrating a legitimate point: everyone’s situation remains different. Ultimately, it's up to each family to decide how and if worldschooling works for them.
Will My Child Get Credit for Being in School?
Although I'm all about clear-cut answers, worldschooling is relatively new, and so this question presents another gray area.
It’s quite simple to find a curriculum for your child online then head out to a different country. So if traveling and learning on the web work for you, then your child could get credit for being in school.
And your child could earn school credit if you follow the homeschooling guidelines from your permanent residence (if you choose to keep one). Or, you could choose to enroll your child in a school in a different country and request documentation.
But, it gets a little bit hazy if you decide that you want to take your child and let them explore the world with no structured curriculum. The United States, for example, allows homeschooling in all 50 states. However, each state has specific regulations that you need to follow. If you're curious about these guidelines, You can check them out here.
Some other countries have regulations too. So if you choose not to follow a set curriculum, make sure that you check proper education laws to ensure your student covers the necessary requirements for his/her grade level.
What are the Benefits?
I discovered a lot of benefits of worldschooling. For one, it has the potential to promote play and seeking behaviors which are critical for brain development.
Brain researcher, Jaak Pansepp studied how play increases brain activity. He stated that brain development occurs through experiences and found that play promotes discovery.
Most likely, if I chose to take my kids to a different country, there would be way more play involved than staying here in a traditional school. To clarify, I know that some play would occur, but not as much as if we were traveling the world.
Plus, I’d love to legitimately say to my boys, “The world is your playground.”
I also think that there would be more seeking involved which also promotes brain development. And there are other benefits such as the appreciation of different cultures and people. Furthermore, children could learn from first-hand experiences about different types of history, geography, and more.
Exposing children to travel could also empower them by promoting their creativity and curiosity. Although we would have to make some sacrifices, there are a lot of wins here.
What are the Cons?
As with everything, worldschooling does come with some possible cons. For example, it might be difficult to leave your family and your friends. You might also crave a steady home base. And instead of a teacher taking care of the curriculum (if you choose to have a curriculum), you're in charge.
Additionally, kids might not develop long-term relationships with peers, depending on how much you move around. However, this is not to say that those relationships would be any less meaningful.
Of course, some parents might not consider these “cons”. As a previous teacher, I would love the opportunity to monitor a curriculum and make sure it gets done.
It turns out that a lot of the pros and cons of worldschooling depend on your family’s philosophy.
How Can I Afford It?
Worldschooling can be cheaper than most might think. Many people are traveling on a budget and getting by just fine. For example, here’s one worldschooling family that lives off of $1000 a month (Canadian).
You might need to get rid of some luxuries, but it’s possible to travel on a shoestring. If you wanted to, you could downsize and rent a small apartment instead of paying a mortgage for a large home. Or, you could stay at hostels or with friends.
Some families may appreciate minimizing. Some may not.
As for work, with remote opportunities on the rise, some parents now have an option to work anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection and computer.
I’m a freelancer; so I know it’s a possible lifestyle. Based on the factors above, traveling might not be much more of an expense than staying put. But it depends on what type of lifestyle your family envisions.
Is This the Path I’m Going to Take?
I feel fortunate that I can consider worldschooling right now because my remote work makes this a promising alternative to traditional schooling. Although I personally couldn’t see myself doing this with my children all throughout their school careers, a family gap year might be in the cards.
My boys are currently 7 months and 3 years old, so I have some time to explore this option. But regardless of your children’s ages, you don't have to make a decision today.
I personally would love to worldschool for a year. But like some families, I don’t know if I could iron out all the details. There are a few obstacles in my way. The largest: My husband doesn't fly.
If you have a solution to this dilemma, leave me a comment below.