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We’ve were a travelling family for almost 7 years, homeschoolers and worldschoolers. In 2020 the lockdowns took away the option of worldschooling and our lifestyle. At this point we began using an online school for the kids. This post is about why we abandoned homeschooling for an online school and what we thought were the benefits and diadvantages of online school for kids.
“We’ve been homeschoolers or world schoolers a long time now. Since birth for one of my now older teens. Maybe more than homeschoolers, worldschoolers. This is where a huge and important chunk of a child’s education comes from what’s around them, the real world. It’s been an enjoyable success but Covid-19 saw us returning to teachers, set curriculum, and classrooms. I’d like to explain why and tell you about the outcomes of world schooling along with our lockdown homeschooling issues.
This post is the complete inverse of what most of the world has experienced in recent months, so I thought it was worth documenting.
Hopefully the whole world has more interest in homeschooling now and as old-hands we’re very happy to share.
Lockdown homeschooling was forced on many, for us, nothing changed, we’ve always homeschooled, but lockdown really messed with the way we homeschool.
Homeschooling to Online School
We were travelling in Asia during the first months of Coronavirus, it was fine. Coincidentally we had to come back to relieve our house sitter (We have a post on what is house sitting) just as lockdowns started rolling out.
Many worldschooling travelling families have ridden out lockdown in hotels and rented apartments around the world. I guess we were lucky to find ourselves in a property we own.
I’m still reluctant to call it home. Home for us is wherever we rest our backpacks.
Worldschooling During Covid-19 Lockdown
It hasn’t been possible for us to do much at all since early March. The kids have barely gone further than the garden, their dad and I have made the necessary supermarket runs.
We’ve been happy, we enjoy quiet time and there’s plenty to do at home to keep busy. Just somehow, with our usual challenges and activities removed, it didn’t feel like enough.
Of course, their online lives have continued, they do a whole mass of different things online. They socialise, they research topics that interest them, they have friendships, they’re gamers, YouTubers and Twitch streamers, they’re happy online and they do have online income streams.
That’s not an issue for us at all, they’re good at what they do and thoroughly enjoy spending hours and hours connected. As do I, my job and family’s income revolves around my phone and laptop.
Travelling families usually need a remote income to travel for years, our income was this travel blog. It’s one of the biggest in the world. If you find our income reports on this site, you’ll see how our finances were decimated by government policies during those years.
Our full post on how to make money blogging is here.
Most of this global shut down has felt like a staycation to us so, we’re fine, we haven’t suffered much other than financially.
We do have a good sized garden growing fruit, veg and flowers, there is much to learn out there. We’ve all been learning about permaculture, many elements of biology and ecology through gardening, observing and trying to increase productivity.
In theory, yes you could create a whole host of educational opportunities from home and garden activities, but that’s not how we like to roll.
We’re travellers and we travel to provide diversity of environment and varied experiences, people, cultures, and ecosytems for our kids to learn from. I’ve been known to call it strewing the world.
We’ve been able to do this for them for the last 7 or 8 years. This is what is called “worldschooling” and it’s hugely popular in our circles. For us it involved saving a lump sum to fund our first year or two and then working like crazy to get to the point where our online businesses fully funded a travel lifestyle. It’s been a fabulous way to live and there are thousands of digital nomads out there doing similar.
Lockdown brought the end of worldschooling for us. Hopefully, only temporarily. As adults with school days long behind us, we still continue to learn through travel. It’s a thirst and a need born into us.
Why Put Them Back in School During Lockdown?
I didn’t feel that they were getting enough outside stimulation being stuck in one spot constantly. Right from day one the word was that we wouldn’t be allowed to travel in 2020, at all. Maybe not even in 2021. Not even within the country we found ourselves in. (We were actually unable to travel right through to early 2023, we were in Australia).
In reality, things are opening up much faster than expected, but in March we thought we could be stuck years.
I was feeling burnt out. I’ve worked so hard on this website, I’m sole breadwinner and responsible for the kids’ education. My husband takes care of so many things, he works hard too. But those 2 big jobs have always been essentially mine.
I couldn’t do it anymore as the travel world tumbled into choas and uncertainty and I fould myself having to work even harder to barely scrape an income.
I needed a break, so I decided to outsource. Sending your kids to any school is a conscious decision to outsource. It’s not the default setting.
How Do Worldschooled Kids Fit Back Into School?
They are in an online school. It is a British online international school, fully acredited and at that time, also had an Asia Pacific time zone department. It now only teaches in accordance with British time zones.
Is online schooling expensive? Yes, as an online school is a private school, it is very expensive. The school fees are similar to those for private schools.
I still wouldn’t consider a bricks and mortar school and they absolutely do not want to go to one. We were based in a remote location with no good schools nearby, this is a problem for a lot of kids and parents in our region with kids travelling hours by bus to go to private school daily.
We hunted around and eventually found an online school that fitted our needs.
I’m not going to reveal which one, sorry, I want it to stay small. I’ve not yet seen a class with more than 8 kids and my elder son is one on one with his English Literature teacher. It’s a great way to learn and interact.
We were able to pick subjects to suit us and it seems the kids can join whatever year they’d like to join. This school works towards the UK’s iGCSE exam readiness and iGCSE exams can be sat at any age so there’s plenty of flexibility there.
iGCSEs are the same as GCSEs and internationally recognised. A British education is seen as highly desirable in many countries. We are British, we thought this was best for our kids.
There are exam centres for iGCSE exams all over the world, there are fees to sit these exams, and yes, sitting the exams is expensive.
I went with the years they would be in, according to their ages, I think, I’m not entirely sure. They could join mid-term too, which was perfect.
So basically I threw them in at the deep end. They were keen to try this new experience and needed something to do that was different.
I like that once again they’re interacting with a wide variety of people of many ages and backgrounds as they did when we travelled. The kids and teachers are all over the world.
Are They “Ahead” or “Behind” in School After Worldschooling
I don’t think either term is really appropriate. They are able to fit in and understand what’s being discussed. It’s different, it’s not how they’ve done life before. Travelling families and their kids are different with a different set of knowledge.
One of them has taken a couple of tests. Science was very easy, history was more challenging as WW1 is pretty new to him, but he’s learned the content in the same way the other kids have.
As he’s studying WW1 and WW2 it has been immensely beneficial to have visited the trenches in France as well as touched history from these eras all over the world. It gives the lessons more context, meaning and sense of place.
I’ve listened to every lesson so far and a lot of it is stuff they already know. It’s not a problem because it’s approached differently.
This is formal, taught learning not the gradual assimilation they’re used to. Some of the teachers are fun, some are good, some aren’t so good. One was dismal, forcing us to cancel this subject and find a tutor elsewhere. The tutor we found, also online, was great, she was on Outschool.
Outschool tutors are much cheaper than online schools.
I think seeing differences like that was useful life experience too.
All of the maths is new and maths has given us hours and hours of annoying worksheets, but they are not unable to understand it because they don’t have x years of school maths behind them. They are learning it alongside the other kids.
Each lesson seems to be a complete stand-alone unit with no prior knowledge required. I didn’t really expect that.
My elder son was amazed at how competent academically he actually was. He’s never been able to compare to other kids before and he came out of his first two classes glowing with pride. It was great to see.
He hasn’t had a maths class yet, that could be more challenging.
They’ve chosen different subjects based on their interests. One loves History and Literature along with Biology. The other is enjoying Geography and Science. They can chop and change as they see fit.
So far so good. It’s enjoyable, neither is bored by it and it fits into our lives easily.
Will We Return To Worldschooling or Homeschooling After Lockdown?
Yes, absolutely, if travel returns we will be on the road. Homeschooling, probably not, the kids will be beyond school age, but worldschooling yes, because that’s a life-long activity.
We will always be a travelling family and yes, my older teens still want to travel with us, their parents.
Could we continue to travel and attend this online school? I think so. The schedule is pretty light, there are free days and plenty of free hours.
No paper postal communication is required with this online school, unlike some schools of distance education, so the technology makes it completely portable. We couldn’t take off to Everest Base Camp for three weeks but regular travel would be fine if we sacrificed some freedom.
They are big kids now and one of them is actually technically able to leave school, but why? Why stop? It’s all up to them, they can do as they please and I have great faith in them to make good choices.
There’s no rush, no push at all for them to get jobs or head off to university. They can do these things, or not, when they see fit.
There are so many options for kids today. They’ve done a bit of this and a bit of that for years, dipping into online education sites for kids and adults, resources such as Open University and Khan Academy in topics that interest them. (See homeschool and travel resources here).They’ve also had me, the science and website geek, the writer, so I’ve dragged them along with me on that. Their father is the history buff, I didn’t do history in school and never enjoyed it until we started learning through travel and alongside the kids.
I think it’s all worked out just perfectly and happy kids are the best possible outcome. If exam passes are what concern you most my elder son passed them all with very good grades. He passed them all with under a full year of school attendance. he hadn’t even studied the full courses with his teachers but still, he passed. I think we proved our point that homeschooling world schooling or unschooling can have good or great outcomes academically and in life skills. He now has a part-time job and is thinking about his A levels, which he will also study online.
Did you ever think this would happen? I didn’t. I’ve always been 100% committed to whole-life homeschooling. If you’d have asked me even four months ago if I’d ever put them in school the answer would have been a very firm no. Situation and circumstances changed and we reacted. We’re happy with our choices. What do you think? Any questions? Put them in the comments. Could you use the Pinterest button to share this please?