Welcome to my first “Meet the worldschoolers” interview!
Tania, her husband and three girls (and their pup) tell me about their motivation for worldschooling, their ‘how to do it’ tips and how things changed along the way.
How long have you been worldschooling?
We’ve been worldschooling for three years now. We (my husband, our three girls, our pup and I) left the US in June 2016 and have been full-time traveling since then.
Did you homeschool before?
We homeschooled in Portland, Oregon for three years before leaving the US. Before that, we were living in Copenhagen, Denmark. We decided to try homeschooling when we moved back to the US and very quickly knew we found the right path for our family.
Tell us a bit about your family, such as kids ages and interests.
Maya is our oldest and is 15 years old. She’s loves to surf, rock climb and recently got her scuba diving certification in Cornwall, England. She loves all adventure sports, geography, astronomy, drawing and writing. Mirabel is 12. She’s happiest when she’s outdoors and absorbed in her imagination. She is incredibly creative and loves to write stories. Lacey is 10. She is the funniest person I know. She loves telling outrageous stories, making up jokes and drawing. Playmobil is her most priced possession and somehow her backpack is now mostly full of Playmobil characters.
My husband Matt and I started Around the World Stories at the beginning of our world schooling journey. We create audio stories for kids to teach them about other countries and cultures. We love what we do and believe it’s so important that kids learn about differences in cultures and how those differences make the world beautiful and interesting. We chose storytelling as our teaching method because there really is no better way to capture a child’s imagination and to help them remember what they learn.
Around the World Stories is definitely a family business with our girls always listening to the stories, giving us their thoughts, suggestions and ideas. We love that, as a family, we are part of something that brings others joy and learning.
Did it take a while to adjust to permanent travelling?
If so, what were the challenges and how long did it take to find your rhythm? One of the biggest challenges was balancing a work / school / travel schedule. Traveling means we have to stay flexible, which isn’t always easy when there are deadlines to be met. The first year of traveling was beautiful, but we also had to work through a lot of bumps. During the second year, we finally got into our groove.
What is your worldschooling style?
Our homeschooling style has definitely changed a lot over the years as I’ve learned about different philosophies and tried out different things. Right now what’s working best for us is eclectic worldschooling. Mostly, we’re just trying to take advantage of the opportunities of being in foreign countries and immersing ourselves as much as possible in other cultures. So much of our history, geography, art, music, science, foreign language and even cooking comes from places we visit. We try to let the kids’ interests drive what we learn about, and I’ve found that works well for us.
I think everyone learns best when they’re interested in something, so we always make it a priority to talk to our kids before we travel somewhere new and ask them what they’d like to learn there. In England, we learned about tin mining, British royalty, WWII, sea life, and Shakespeare – all things that interested at least one of our kids. We visited museums, went snorkeling, hiked to tin mines in Cornwall, and read Shakespeare before visiting the Globe Theater.
My oldest loves to paint and to learn about art so we visited art museums when we were in Paris and Amsterdam, we went to Monet’s garden and always make it a point to spend time learning about the artists that live in the places we visit. Our 12 year old was very curious about communism so we spent time learning about it in Prague and Berlin. Our youngest loves fairy tales so we visited the ‘real’ Snow White’s castle on one of our bike trips, visited HC Andersen’s hometown in Denmark and read all about the Brothers Grimm in Germany. We love exploring and learning together as a family.
What changed for your family when you settled into worldschooling?
Once we figured out what worldschooling really offered and how well our girls naturally learned as we traveled, we relaxed with the traditional homeschooling. We saw their love of learning grow so quickly and didn’t feel like we needed to force anything. Worldschooling has really opened my eyes as to how kids’ education can be such a natural and exciting thing.
What do you love about worldschooling?
I love that learning is happening everywhere. Whether we’re out to eat, hiking in the mountains, or exploring a new town, there are lessons all around us all day long. I love seeing our kids’ passions and love of learning growing every day.
What destination or attraction would you like to recommend or inspire other worldschooling families?
Honestly you can’t really go wrong anywhere. I’d say go to a place that interests you and your family – it could be the history or the art or the people or the food. Just getting out and traveling will always be educational. Personally, we’re loving Europe now – there’s so much history, culture, traditions, art and music here. I also love that, despite how close the countries are to one another, the cultures are so different. You can eat breakfast in Germany, lunch in Switzerland and dinner in Italy and experience three different cultures – all with just a few hours of driving!
What advice would you have for any families considering worldschooling whether permanently or for a long trip?
On the practical side, I would say try to stay in one place for a longer period, instead of hopping around too much. It’s much easier and, in my opinion, more fun when you can really get to know a culture, meet people and really experience a place. It’s also more affordable when you can get long term rates for your house rental. Also, before you travel, make sure you do some research into festivals and events you definitely want to visit – then build your itinerary from there. Some of our most amazing memories are from festivals – especially small ones – that really taught us about a culture. Lastly, stay flexible. Days often look very different from what I plan, and when I stay flexible, those are often the best ones.