From the very beginning of our homeschooling journey our motto has been to instill confidence, teach a love of learning and everything else will fall into place. Sounds a little idealistic, doesn’t it? A few years ago I would have raised my eyebrows if I’d heard that. But as we are finishing up our third year of home-based education, here are a few of the things I have come to believe:
1) Learning happens anywhere and everywhere.
I started out thinking we needed specific books and a neatly set up learning table with chairs. I eventually tired of banging my head against the wall and accepted that our daughter Claire had no interest in sitting in a chair and completing worksheets. The real lesson that came from that was to not re-create a classroom but rather to use the world around us to learn. I love things that are practical and fun at the same time. For example, when making a purchase in a store or a farmers market, let them figure out how much is owed before going to the checkout. Do they have enough cash? How much change are they going to get?
2) When we’re excited about something we don’t resist it.
Think back to when you were in school. There were probably subjects that you did better in than others because you enjoyed learning about them. For instance, Claire is an animal lover to the extreme! Anything that relates to animals will grab her attention and keep her focused. She loves to draw animals and can rattle off very specific details out of animal encyclopedias. In contrast, it took her until she was nearly seven years old to be able to remember her birth month and date. Support your kids in following their passions and watch their confidence grow!
3) Worldschooling is real life.
It doesn't get any more practical than learning how to plan a route, ask a stranger for help (yes, we encourage that, and it’s a whole other blog post!), communicating despite language barriers, converting different currencies, budgeting, calculating time zones, etc. These are excellent real life skills that open our eyes to what we are capable of and what is possible. Memorizing facts for the purpose of a test didn't do a thing to build up my confidence and has never been the lifesaving buoy I needed while navigating the opportunities of life.
4) Life isn't meant to be lived in a box.
The more places we have been and the more people we have met has us thinking differently about how and why we do what we do. I love that my kids get to see how other people live and how the way we do things isn't the only way it can be done. On the flip side, they are also realizing that they don't have to do things the same way other people do them either. They are learning to share their views and to be open to learning about new ways, too. The world needs more people who think and live outside the box!
5) Learning is a lifelong adventure.
One of my favorite quotes is "the more I learn the more I realize I don't know." There are no specific qualifications required to teach your own children. As a trained dental hygienist, there are subjects that are definitely more my area of expertise than others. Nothing is better for my kids than seeing that I don't know something and that I am learning right along with them.
If you are interested in travelling for a few months, a year or longer, know that the resources are out there to support you and yes, you can absolutely do it! Everything changed for me when I put my fears and excuses aside and asked myself “Why wouldn’t I do that? What’s stopping me?” Travel is the most rewarding education and even more fantastic when you can experience it as a family!
Update: September 2017 - Listen to my podcast appearance where I speak about worldschooling and escaping the rat race on "Honey, I'm Homeschooling the Kids".