How to Become a Worldschooling Family

Father and kids walk on an old colonial street in Mexico

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I can’t believe we’ve been worldschooling for five months now. Although we’re still new to homeschooling, we’ve been enjoying learning and traveling together as a family. While we’re not experts at being traveling homeschoolers, we have picked up a few tips of our own in terms of what it takes to be a worldschooling family.

Visiting the toy museum in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (November 2018)

Becoming a worldschooling family

Earlier this week, I received an email from a friend of mine who is also traveling around the world with his family. Like us, his family started his trip this summer, and we both have kids who were previously in traditional schooling. He was curious how we were handling being a worldschooling family, and if I had any suggestions and tips on worldschooling.

To be honest, I’m just learning as I go. We have our good days, when the kids are excited to do their lessons. And we also have our bad days. Last week, my daughter cried every single time we had a math lesson! Being traveling homeschoolers isn’t always easy, and it can be quite challenging at times. But I think it can be doable for families if they have the right tips, support, and encouragement.

The wonderful thing about worldschooling is that you don’t have to be traveling to do it! You can do it right in your own home town. If you’re interested in becoming a worldschooling family, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Kids from a worldschooling family walking through a botanical garden in Mexico
Walking through the botanical garden in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (November 2018)

Be patient

Patience is the single most important skill to have as a parent. And if you’re worldschooling, it’s even more important. Every day is different. It can be influenced by each family members’ mood, the schedule for that day, and what you’re trying to teach them. And even topics that your kids were excited about learning one day, may be excruciatingly painful to teach the next day. It helps to have patience, and to know that you will eventually get through whatever challenge you are currently facing.

Visiting the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, California (October 2018)

Be flexible

For a brief period of my life, I was a preschool teacher. And one of the skills I learned about being a preschool teacher was flexibility. If something isn’t working, don’t stress about drilling it. Be flexible and try a different approach.

My daughter is a perfectionist, and will shut down if she starts to make mistakes. This is particularly challenging when trying to teach her math. Even simple concepts she already understands will be seem like rocket science to her when she gets into her “I can’t do anything right” moods. So I pivot. I try and be flexible. I look for a different approach to explaining that particular concept to her.

My son climbing down a pyramid at Canada de la Virgen in Mexico (November 2018)

Focus on the fundamentals

As traveling homeschoolers, we are responsible for the education of our kids. But that doesn’t mean that we have to go overboard on the topics we teach our kids. If you’re just starting out on being a worldschooling family, it’s helpful to focus on the fundamentals at first: reading, writing, and math.

In my opinion, every other subject is an offshoot of these fundamental topics. Reading and writing skills can allow you to branch out into science, history, social studies, and even philosophy. Having skills in math can help you in life skills, building things, constructing things, and even in art. Rather than stressing about having your kids master everything, focus instead on developing skills in the fundamentals.

The kids reading a book at the public library in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (November 2018)

Don’t be afraid to experiment

The wonderful thing about the worldschooling community is that we’re all just trying to figure it out. Some families follow a curriculum, while others are much more like unschoolers, who don’t adhere to any type of curriculum and instead let experiences teach their kids. Since every child is unique, every family’s approach to teaching is unique.

As a worldschooling family, we’re always experimenting with different approaches to teaching our kids. We keep the ones that work, and discard the ones that don’t. As our kids grow and learn, our approaches must also grow and learn.

Kids from a worldschooling family playing at the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City
Visiting the math museum in New York City (October 2018)

Make spreadsheets your friend

Depending on the schooling regulations of your hometown, state, or country, you may be required to keep a record of your homeschooling lessons. In Washington state, where I’m from, parents are required to cover eleven subjects throughout the course of the year: reading, writing, spelling, language, math, science, social studies, history, health, art and music appreciation, and occupational education.

One simple way I keep track of what subjects we’ve covered as a worldschooling family is with a spreadsheet. I use Google Sheets, so that I can access it on my phone as well. My spreadsheet records the date of our lesson, a brief description of the lesson we did, the subject we covered, and the minutes we spent on that lesson. That way, if my child’s school district asks for a record, we have something to show them.

If you’re not comfortable with putting together a spreadsheet yourself, there are plenty of homeschooling resources that are dedicated to record keeping. Some are free, and some cost a premium, but it’s worth investing some time (and or money) to keeping a record of your kids’ learning.

Practicing writing letters (September 2018)

Take advantage of field trips

I’m going to let you in on a secret, I don’t always teach lessons every day. One of the things I love about worldschooling is that we don’t always have to rely on formal lessons to teach our kids. In fact, my favorite way to teach is to take field trips.

So far during our travels, we’ve used museums and field trips to teach our kids about science, history, art, and even social studies. In the United States, we used our science museum membership to take advantage of the reciprocal program at museums around the country. We were able to get into over ten museums for just $100! Here in Mexico, we’ve visited art museums, old style haciendas, pyramids, and even a farm. The kids enjoy the experiential learning aspect of it.

Running through an open field at Canada de la Virgen in Mexico (November 2018)

Let others help teach

Another secret that I’ll let you in on is this: I’m not my kids’ only teacher. During the summer, while we were in Spokane, we enrolled our kids in swimming lessons. While we were at the Family Adventure Summit, our kids had teachers who would teach them games and activities. And from time to time, my husband and I switch off being the teacher.

If there’s a subject that you’re not sure about teaching to your kids, find an expert who can teach it to your kids instead. I’ve even heard of tutors doing lessons via Skype! Nowadays, technology makes it so easy to find a tutor in virtually any subject.

Learning about the printing press in Boston, Massachusetts (September 2018)

Find learning opportunities everywhere

Related to taking field trips, I always try and find learning opportunities everywhere we go. The benefit of being traveling homeschoolers is that we’re always trying to explore the cities that we’re currently living in. This makes it easy to find learning opportunities for our kids.

A visit to the local market can become a lesson in money or occupations. Ordering food at a restaurant can be a lesson in the Spanish language. Figuring out how to go to the park can become a lesson in geography. We try and be creative with our lessons, and make sure that the kids are still having fun while they’re learning.

Having fun at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC (September 2018)

Give your kids a break

When worldschooling days get hard, sometimes it’s good to give your kids a break. Don’t feel like you’re wasting time doing this, or messing up your kids’ learning. Kids need a break, just as much adults do. And a break can often give you a chance to rethink your approach to teaching and try something new next time. Remember that there is always tomorrow!

Taking a break at Parque Juarez in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (November 2018)

Making worldschooling part of your child’s learning

As a worldschooling family, we’ve definitely had our good days and bad days. And sometimes the bad days can be horrible ones, at that! But in my opinion, the benefits of worldschooling are worth going through the bad days.

Even now, my kids have learned so much from being traveling homeschoolers. They’ve picked up several words in Spanish, and they’ve learned about some of the culture of the indigenous people of Mexico. But mostly, worldschooling has become part of our family’s culture. We have made it part of our children’s learning, and we know that it will continue to be part of their learning, even when we come back to Seattle.

Are you already a worldschooling family? Share in the comments how you make worldschooling part of your family’s travel experience.

How to Become a Worldschooling Family | The Wandering Daughter

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I'm a travel-loving mom of three from Seattle. Join our adventures as we explore the Pacific Northwest and the world!

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