I recently read an article on Momentum titled “World-Schooling our Kids“, and I have to admit, it sounded absolutely amazing!!
It was about a former UN couple who practice world-schooling and has taken their two boys (around 10-11 years old) on an extended vacation to more than 40 countries around the world. “World-schooling” to them is akin to “homeschooling” with the family on the road, and their way of “animating their [kids’] learning with real life”.
This is not the first time I have heard about this concept – a friend recently told me she met a Swiss couple who have taken a career break and have taken their young kids on a “gap year” to travel around the world whilst being home-schooled.
There is also an Australian family with the same idea – they are planning on travelling around Australia in a special purpose built bus with their 5 kids for a year! The father said it best: “The fact is I’d rather take the kids with us and experience everything with them than to phone them up once they’ve moved out of home to brag how much fun it is.”
Parents out there are doing this, and what great courage they have!!!
For obvious reasons (practical and financial), not every family has such luxury and opportunity afforded to them. And with me being full time behind an office desk, unfortunately, there is no getting away for extended yearlong vacations.
However, that does not stop me from thinking: “Does it mean “world-schooling” is not available to my boys?”
I truly believe that the world itself is an enormous open book and provides a more colourful and enriching learning platform than within the classroom and behind books. It is also a rewarding platform that extends far beyond our compulsory school years and continues into our adult lives. It truly cultivates and encourages a life-long love of learning and desire to acquire more knowledge.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against traditional schooling, classrooms or knowledge through reading and study. I am certainly not brave or patient enough to be a teacher to my own kids through homeschooling (it is illegal in HK anyways).
I do, however, love the idea of diversifying my boys’ learning experiences by giving them opportunities to see and experience the world at large.
We have been travelling with our boys since they were 3 months old. And each time when we got back from our family trips together, we noticed subtle changes and developmental growth in our boys. They were all minor little nuances, but in aggregate, it feels like their awareness and interest in the world around them magnified many folds over.
As they grew up and started talking and expressing themselves, they have been able to verbalise their recollections in bits and pieces here and there. Joshua, now at 4 years old, can remember experiences from family holidays over a year and a half ago: he remembers that we rode elephants and touched baby tigers in Thailand; recalls the Japanese word for “hello” and his love for anything “green tea”; reminds us that he wants to return to the water park in Singapore; expresses that he loves our house in France (it was the villa we rented) and reminisces that we ate a lot of ice-cream in Italy.
It was from these sparse recollections that I realized that we have, in a way, already been “world-schooling” them.
Some people tell me – “what a waste of money taking your kids travelling – they won’t remember anything!”.
I agree that young children will not have any, or will have very limited, recollections about these trips so early on in their lives. But that’s where my agreement ends!
This is because not having recollections or a conscious memory due to their young age does not mean they did not experience, learn and take in the sights, sounds, tastes and all the other sensory elements of the new environments we took them to. Those are two completely different concepts.
Children, however young, do still learn and pick up so much from experiencing and seeing the world – I believe that they are just stored and accumulated in their sub-conscious minds. With the help of all the photos we take on our trips and the stories we will tell them, our boys will be able to tap back into those sub-conscious memories and experiences, and form their own recollections over time.
Integrating “world-schooling” in their lives – in our case through interesting holidays – can be such a remarkable gift we can give to our children. On top of that, we can do it together as a family – I have ideas like:
- watching their excitement in visiting dinosaur exhibits at a national museum;
- spotting African animals as we go on a safari;
- catching the red autumn leaves fall in the Japanese countryside;
- trying to hug the giant Sequoia trees in California;
- being awe-struck together by the sheer beauty of the Norwegian fjords;
- dipping our feet into the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic;
- wandering the maze of the Louvre discussing our favorite masterpieces;
- clapping in ovation to a hilarious musical on Broadway;
- seeing their faces on their first taste of something exotic or gross;
- climbing to the top of the mountain with them to watch Machu Picchu appear in the horizon as the sun rises;
- explaining the horrors and evil of war as we visit a concentration camp or a war memorial; or
- snorkeling in the atolls to learn about the underwater world.
There are so many more! We have a lifetime and I can’t wait to experience it all with them as we “world-school” rock it!