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What is Worldschooling?

Have you heard about worldschooling (AKA world schooling)? All the cool parents are doing it, it’s the latest buzz word in alternative education. Is it simply taking your kids on holiday to learn about other countries? In this post we try to answer that question, what is worldschooling? It can be a lifestyle and a whole-life commitment. Is it something you do on weekends or school holidays? Is there a timetable and a curriculum?. You can do it all-day, every-day. It is life. Worldschooling is a lifestyle choice, a wonderful one, but one you can try for a short time. Try it and you may never go back. 

what is worldschooling

 

What is Worldschooling?

Worldschooling is providing and finding education from the real world. It includes experiences, places and people from all over the globe. The more you can travel, the more destinations and the greater variety of cultures, climates, histories and societies you can explore, the more that education grows.

Worldschooling removes teachers, classrooms, schools and set curriculums, it opens doors, opportunities and possibilities.  It gives freedom in education and life.

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Worldschooling is born through a love of travel and a love of learning about and from the world. There are many versions of worldschooling, some academic, some less so. There is a thriving global worldschooling community and numbers of worldschooling families grow daily.

Our Worldschooling Story

Back in 2012 we decided that travelling with the kids would be a great lifestyle choice for our family and a phenomenal way for the boys to get a better education. I invented a term, travelschooling.

The boys were already out of school and we were very happy with that choice, but we could see that their environment was limiting their learning. They needed more diversity and to see, touch, do and experience it all.

Not much further down the road, I discovered that somebody had already named what we were doing as worldschooling and that it was actually a fairly commonly used term.

So travelschooling was ditched and I started embracing worldschooling. These days everyone is jumping on the band-wagon and I don’t like the dilution of the original idea.

Worldschoolers do not go to school, sorry, non-negotiable you can’t be a worldschooler only on weekends.

If kids go to school they are main-stream educated, nothing different there at all, how can there be? They will be tied to a timetable and a curriculum with insufficient time to experience their surroundings and follow educational paths of their own choosing.

Some worldschooling families do put their kids in school as they travel. It’s their choice and you see it more often where parents want full language immersion and for the child to become bi-lingual.

That said, every homeschooler is different, every unschooler is different, every child and family is different. there is no one fixed right way to homeschool or worldschool and that is absolutely fine. Education should never be one-size-fits-all and that is the massive elephant in the room with the standard education system.

Worldschooling in Vietnam at Cu Chi Tunnels
Busy worldschooling in Vietnam. Here a tour of Cu Chi tunnels, a guide with the information and a Vietnamese perspective on war history. Of course, it’s loads of fun, but you bet it’s worldschooling!

Not everyone is free to take up a digital nomadic family lifestyle but what you can do is try worldschooling. Give it a go, take your kids on a voyage of discovery and freedom on a family gap year. Even 1 year, a taste of worldscholing, could be very good for their world outlook as you strew the world before them. You may find you never want to put them back in school again.

Unschool, Homeschool or Worldschool?

Worldschooling can be unschooling or it can be homeschooling, it really just depends on what you want to call it. We call it homeschooling, others may look at us and call us unschoolers. We’re certainly not unschoolers because we are not fully child-led.

Now, after many years, we do some unschooling, some homeschooling and a whole heap of worldschooling. I think a lot of homeschoolers are that way.

Obviously methods of providing, facilitating and enhancing a child’s education change with need over time, age, environment and interests. Education comes is seasons.

In Australia we tend to use homeschooling as an umbrella term to cover all methodologies, in the UK they prefer to use home education, rejecting the “schooling” term altogether. I usually stick with the term homeschooling, it’s simpler.

Worldschooling in Malaysia Temples and Religions
Worldschooling in Malaysia. Diverse religions and cultures. Here a Chinese temple clearly demonstrated how shipping and the spice trade shaped this part of the world. A truly tolerant multi-cultural society is also something to learn from.

We do our own thing, ignore the school system, and the kids get a great education. But that education has absolutely zero involvement with school. That’s important and a whole-life commitment for however many years family and children choose that path.

We are full-time, full-life homeschoolers or worldschoolers and that education is an active process, one we put a lot of effort into.

If you’re in doubt take a look at our 1 year of homeschooling highlights to see just how much learning happens, naturally, out in the wider world. One teacher commented that our style of learning was what schools try to reproduce in the classroom, and fail

For the uninitiated, here is a brief run-down of the usual terms in the alternative education world:

School-at-Home is doing what they do in school, at home. I don’t personally know anybody who does this. I think this is what homeschooling is taken to mean in the UK and why they prefer to call themselves home educators. These children will probably be fitting back into the school system at some point, maybe taking the usual exams. Many people believe that home educated children are “taught” by a parent. In reality, this rarely happens.

Unschooling is a 1970s term John Holt used, he was never happy with the term, but it stuck. He preferred the term “life”. Unschooling involves a complete rejection of the school system and trust in the children to learn through their own interests and curiosity at whatever pace they prefer. Unschooling is fully child-led learning.  Parents and other human beings are involved as key facilitators of that learning. You can see Hannah’s post on “What is Unschooling” here.

Radical Unschooling takes the unschooling philosophy even further to include all aspects of life. Sandra Dodd came up with this term and it totally rejects any distinction between educational and non-educational activities. Radical unschooling removes limits and allows children to make their own choices in all areas of life. I’m no expert if you’d like to know more try Sandra Dodd, or Dayna Martin, prominent radical unschoolers.

Worldschooling is more difficult to define. Some class it as a type of unschooling, some children are world-schooled as they’ve been home-schooled. 

When I look back at my first year, 2 years, of being a home educator, it really wasn’t that great. Luckily those first 2 years were before we started travelling and were highly regulated by the government. We found our way through trial and error and were able to hit the road with confidence.

A year on the road probably isn’t long enough to find your educational groove which is one of the reasons I tell parents taking kids on a short trip to just do nothing about “school”. Don’t spoil the experience, just enjoy it and learn naturally.

To me, worldschooling is home education of any sort with a good measure of travel and active learning through travel thrown in.

The partners in the process, the educational facilitator ( parent) and the student have to seek out the learning in the location, it is by no means a passive absorption process.

I don’t want my kids in school. I want them to learn at the source when they are ready or interested. I want them to know that they can teach themselves just about anything because times have moved on and the internet can replace a teacher.

We parents have to facilitate education and totally shoulder the responsibility of our child’s education. It’s a big responsibility that we home-educating parents take on, and we need to be 100% committed to it. It’s not something to mess about with.

Is it Possible to Worldschool and Not Travel?

If you take the simplest definition of worldschooling that I’ve found, then, of course, you don’t need to travel. Worldschooling is learning from the world, we are all in the world, just some of us see more of it than others. That sounds more like a definition of unschooling than worldschooling, I think.

Eli Gerzon claims the term worldschooling as his invention. He says

“It’s when the whole world is your school, instead of school being your whole world.” 

His definition seems to take travel out of the worldschooling scenario completely, it certainly removes school.

I guess it could work, but it would be a narrow form of worldschooling to not see the world.

What Does Worldschooling Look Like?

Wherever we worldschoolers are in the world we actively seek out the learning. It involves visiting temples, museums, markets, hotels, railway stations and playgrounds. It involves meeting people from every background, faith, nationality, age and race.

It involves the facilitator, doing research and having knowledge and ideas to share with the kids. We won’t have every answer, no, nor would a teacher, but we do have Google. Finding your own information sticks better than being told and parent and child learning together is an exciting way to do things.

Worldschoolers doing written work. Curriculum
Worldschoolong Kids do need to be able to write and do some written maths and so on. Yes of course we do that too, sometimes. On this week we weren’t travelling, we were sitting tight in Romania through the snows of winter. So as well as learning about a unique European culture, subsistence farming, climate, meteorology, learning to ski, chop wood and build fires, positive and negative numbers and so much more, we also broke out the books. Here we were working on glaciation, following up on a visit to Scotland. Part from Mum’s head, part from YouTube, apart from a GCSE UK curriculum book. This is how we roll, other worldschoolers wouldn’t do this at all.

For us, the worldschooling always starts before we reach a destination. We all, together, find out as much about our next country or region as we can before we get on the plane.

Before heading to Scotland and the UK we spent some time watching YouTube videos and finding out about, for instance, Hadrian’s Wall. If the kids didn’t know what that wall was before we got there they’d probably be totally disinterested.

Now most things we see will have some sort of “wow” factor.

After visiting we’ll try and wrap things up and find out more. The destinations always bring up more questions.

I read, I read a lot about our destinations and always have, about their history, culture, beliefs and traditions and I try to take kids to places that will introduce those ideas and spark an interest. I work very hard at worldschooling.

The regular home education is still there too, when I first took responsibility for educating my children I was, like most new homeschooling parents, very school-at-home. I thought that was what you had to do because I had no experience of any other way of learning.

Every day we became more and more unschool as I saw how the learning was actually happening ( this is called de-schooling).

Before we left Australia I was happy to call myself an unschooler for a short period and totally embraced the term and the philosophy. We were, of course, worldschooling in our tropical home in Far North Queensland with the reef and the rainforest as a playground and classroom for all of us.

These days I rarely use the term unschooling at all. In actual fact, I rarely use the term worldschooling. We are just getting an education. Education through adventure.

Over time, elements of school-at-home have crept back in because they needed to.

When we aren’t actively travelling we use workbooks and online learning programs. One item in our educational arsenal was the Minecraft Homeschool courses and the boys got a lot out of those as tweens.

My worldschooling teenager progressed to some Open University courses but teenaged kids become more and more self-directed as time passes by.

Kids’ audio guides, tours and talks slot into life easily on the road and becoming more important as the kids get older.

We always did some written maths and English and sometimes a science work-book as a sort of check list of topics. I also own curriculum books to remind myself and to see if my 10-year-old does actually know what he would be expected to know if he were in school in the UK. This is, after all, a big experiment and I need to monitor the results.

If he didn’t, I would be failing him, everyone needs to know some basics.

He does, he has the same knowledge base as any child leaving a UK junior school should have. He hasn’t been taught it, he’s just picked it up.

I say should, because of course, many normally educated children won’t. Too many slip through the cracks and come out of school functionally illiterate.

These workbooks are needed reassurance for me and a sneaky way to get him writing and spelling, he enjoys science like his mum and writing not so much. He’s cool with it and we make it fun.

Workbooks we use include the series below, all are available online. We’ve tried many, these are our favourites. You’ll often find people suggesting that travelling kids simply keep a journal. Nice idea, but my kids would rather extract their own eyeballs with spoons than journal, so workbooks it is. Try these:

At the same time we’re still worldschooling, homeschooling and sometimes unschooling, we’re learning from Australia, the USA, Asia, London or wherever we happen to be. Learning from museums, zoos, history, diverse people, geography, lifestyles, food and culture.

The kids made new friends and saw how local people live.  In London the boys and I went to Forest School for 2 hours per week because it was fun and a good way to experience nature while meeting new people. We’re always learning from the world wherever we are. When we slip into slow travel mode, which is rare for us, a time usually comes when we feel we’re done and need a new environment to learn from

Update: This post was originally written a few years ago, want to skip forward to worldschooling a teenager? It’s all worked out great for my kids. How about homeschooling a 12 year old? Maybe you’d like to know more about the homeschooling resources we use on the road, if so, click through. My kids are teens now and eventually, unexpectedly, went to school. Read why we stopped home or worldschooling here.

It worked. As they get older more and more of their learning comes from their own reading and online explorations. They are happy, they read, they are technologically competent, they know more than me on many subjects, they can do maths, the elder one earns an income. They’re the proof that this works. They continue to be worldschooled but now, as teens, we keep them off the internet. Their lives are their own and we respect their privacy. I’ve never wanted them to go to college or university, but that option is still there should they choose it, as it is for all homeschooled kids.

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Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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Donna GRIFFIN

Friday 10th of July 2020

How did you get started.. did you travel and work before you started to make money from this blog? We are saving for a year off and hoping to find a way to make money while traveling but i would like to start looking for ways to make money before we start travel and maybe help us save money faster... I work from home right now because of covid. But I still have to work an 8 hour day and I could not travel and do this job they will not let us do that yet ...

Alyson for World Travel Family

Saturday 11th of July 2020

Hi Donna, if you buy our e-book it's all in there. But yes, I started this site about 12 months before we left. It didn't start making good money until maybe 3 years in. Blogging is getting harder these days, there are so many huge sites skimming every blogger's content and cherry-picking their ideas that bring the best traffic, then there was Covid. I'm not making enough money today to support us and our traffic is at 10% of normal levels. Things will probably pick up again, eventually. No, you will not be able to work and travel and have fun at the same time. Unless you're me and get up at 3am to work every day. The top travel blogs are all huge businesses now and there's no room for the small sites. I'm struggling. It's just me, I have no team other than my family. One big travel site invested 100 million dollars, they must have thousands of writers, SEO experts, social media managers... it's just hard now. If you want to start a blog to make money I'd go into pets or gardening, or food, something more recession-proof. Or go super niche, start a travel site about your home town for instance. There are almost a thousand posts on this site and each one now takes several days to create. That's a lot of time! But if you pick one location and cover it well and in total detail, you'd get there faster.

Danica

Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

I'm pregnant with our first child and worldschooling is definitely the method we'd like to pursue. I was homeschooled (from the USA) until I was 13 and I always felt like I learned better in that setting than in a traditional classroom. But, unlike my parents, my husband and I love to travel and we can't wait to integrate our adventures abroad into learning opportunities for our kid.

Alyson for World Travel Family

Thursday 4th of June 2020

Wonderful! I hope the world settles back to normal for you just as soon as possible. You'll see in our latest post that my kids are now in school. The current problems forced our hand. It's a shame but it's something different for now. Good luck!

Ryan

Saturday 22nd of February 2020

What a fantastic post! So glad I found your site. I love this idea and can't wait to share this article with my wife to talk about what we might do along these lines in the future!

Rosanna

Friday 10th of January 2020

Hi..

I have a 13 year old and an 8 year old. We have homeschooled/world schooled since they were born. We lived on a sailing boat for their earlier years so it was more world schooling then moved ashore to Bali 6 years ago. I homeschool with the help of tutors. I have stuck with this despite the tough times where I double guess myself and end up feeling 'lost'. I have no support really and my husband is not involved. I love the freedom the children and myself have to learn, to create our days...but I struggle now that my son is becoming a teenager if this is what is best for them...I feel so much pressure. Currently I use my own head, internet etc for resources..I love the teaching part but not devising the program or curriculum, Do you have any advice on sites that are not just standard curriculums to teach at home. I am reaching out as I feel quite overwhelmed currently. I don't believe in formal education per say but do believe in helping structuring the children's days and tangible learning to a degree so we can see how they are getting on....

Alyson for World Travel Family

Friday 10th of January 2020

Hi Rosanna, Well, I'm a few years ahead of you so I'm probably a good person to talk to. Both my boys are teens now, one 16. It's fine, all will be fine. I don't know your nationality, but as we're British we buy curriculum linked work books for KS3 moving into KS4 ( we like Collins, I order them from Amazon or Book Depository) . Around age 13 my elder one just would not do any more maths, I couldn't persuade him that maths was even remotely a good idea but now, this week, he's started going through those work books starting at the beginning of year 7 of KS3. That's about 12 years old. He finsished that book in 2 or 3 days, he's now well into year 8, I suspect another 3 days or so. He's flying along and where he comes across maths topics we've never covered he just Googles it. Sometimes he asks me and we figure it out together. I've explained that all this is totally pointless and he'll never need any of this in real life, but he just wants to do it. I've seen other world or home schooled kids do this around 15 / 16 too. I think it's peer pressure and a perceived need to do what everyone else does. That said school is totally out of the question, he doesn't want that nonsense. So for the last few years he's been doing various Open University courses and a bit of Khan, just picking topics he was interested in. He went off on a tangent yesterday and started watching the history of algebra on Khan ( which was actually very interesting and topped up his ancient history ) and it's all sort of flowing. What I'm trying to say is - don't worry. No, we don't use any online school thing at all currently, but Khan is always there to dip into And Open University of course. I don't believe in structure. The freedom to be unstructured and follow interests is a large part of the world or home schooling philosophy, so no real structure here. Of course, we take off up mountains and he goes off volunteering for weeks at a time so there's no way structure would ever work. If you want to check in with the school curriculums they're all available online if you look. But I wouldn't advise it, all those outcomes and learnings are written in teacher-speak. We're not aiming for exams ( although they may still happen) are you? If you're not aiming for exams what are you worried about? If they're not sitting exams they don't need to follow the curriculum, that's its only purpose. Best of luck and * breath* .

Amiana Lason

Friday 11th of October 2019

After reading this post and another post on unschooling, I've realized how mistaken some parents have gotten. "Unschooling" and "worldschooling" are two ideas that should have never been made legal.

How much education do you think your children are really getting by being able to do whatever they want all day? Thinking about it honestly, they won't be able to go to good schools or get good, high-paying jobs in the future if they don't have fundamental education.

Children are obviously satisfied and happy now, travelling the world and not studying basic math, science, and languages, but they truly aren't getting proper education. I watched a documentary on a family of "unschoolers" and the parents insisted their children was learning a lot and knew basic math and English, but the oldest child, a ~10 year old, couldn't solve a simple multiplication problem.

Seriously, travelling the world and not getting any education isn't okay. What's the point of learning survival and cultural skills if they won't have any money in the future to travel? The children will rely on YOU, the parent, for money.

I'm not trying to hate, I'm just want to let you know that "unschooling" and "worldschooling" really is not good and the children will not get their basic education needed to go to college and get a job.

I'm a mother, to a son who was (unfortunately) "unschooled" and "worldschooled." His father insisted that my son follow him (my husband) around the world on business trips and learn about different cultures, so my son lived in many places for many years (France, England, China, Japan, etc.) and though he insisted he was really studying and learning, he's a community college drop out working at iHop, and he relies on me and his father for money to live.

It hurts to see my son, who was so happy and vibrant, travelling the world and being free to do as he pleased-so reliant and disappointed in his life.

I just wanted to warn you.

Unschooling and worldschooling is not education.

Please, at least homeschool your children, or send them to school.

They need basic education to be able to do what they love in the future.

Kathy

Friday 18th of October 2019

We are unschoolers and also love to travel, although we're not radical unschoolers. Child-led learning has worked very well in our house. Building a radio (by himself) at age five, publishing a book in middle school, and enjoying pre-calculus in 10th grade are a few things our three boys have done recently. I am not particularly worried about their capabilities. The thing I really hope they gain from their education is the knowledge that they can learn anything they're interested in, without having to take a class or be "qualified" to learn it. It's very sad when unschooling, homeschooling, and regular schooling are done poorly; everyone loses in those cases. I hope your son finds what he wants to do and is happy with himself.

Keri T

Thursday 17th of October 2019

Oh my, Amiana, how sad I am for your disappointing son! Transitioning into adulthood is hard. I'm glad my 21 yr old self isnt who I am now at 44. I got pregnant (unmarried and in college) at 19. My daughter is now 24 and about to graduate college. She LOVES to travel, but her passion is changing our broken public school system (in the US). She's also interested in learning how the rest of the world educates children. My son is home/world-schooled. Besides being wild as a March hare, he knows more history and science than most high schoolers, he's athletic and has been successful playing 4 sports so far, AND he knows how to multiply. Go figure! He actually started doing addition and subtraction at age 4 while learning to play and keep score at basketball. Everyone is different. While homeschooling isn't for everyone, it certainly is for some.

Alyson Long

Wednesday 16th of October 2019

I'm sorry your son's life doesn't please you - just yet. My mother probably felt the same about me. You know, at 21 I had never had a job. I spent over a year after university doing nothing, not sure what to do, not wanting a job at all. I eventually started my career based on my university degree at 22. My mother could finally be proud of raising a "successful" child who had passed all the right exams and had a socially acceptable job. I detested my career and just went through the motions for 20 years. In my 40's I taught myself how to make websites. This website now earns more - and is far more fulfilling - than my old career. I also earn more through this website than my husband did at the top of his career, as high as he could go in his industry. Every skill I use today is self-taught (and multiplication has never been involved) Do you see my point? A "good" job isn't necessarily what makes you happy. A "good" job doesn't necessarily require formal training. A "good" job and a good life don't have to start the moment you leave school or university. Also, you don't seem to understand world / home / un schooling. The divide isn't what you think. You have seen one sensationalised TV show designed to show a negative side of unschooling. Good unschooling, done well, is superb. Some don't do it well, I'll give you that. Unschooling does not equate with worldschooling. Homeschooling is not school at home. We are not unschoolers, yet we worldschool ( it's actually not a term I particularly like, I seldom use it, but our years of travel make us worldschoolers by default) My two both have income streams already, they are experimenting with various Open University courses which may or may not take them into degrees. If they choose study, that's cool, if not, that's also cool. You know, plenty of kids come out of the hugely messed up school system with no exam passes, illiterate, bullied, with depression or other mental health issues. Plenty don't even come out of school alive, suicide rates are crazy in pressured teens - things could be much worse and your son has his whole life ahead of him. I figured out my life's calling in my 40s. Expecting kids to choose careers as young teens is insane and depressing. I hope he will find his way in his own time, he has so many choices and possibilities and there are many, many ways to do life. I think you're wanting to find someone or something to blame. That's impossible to do as you don't know, can never know, if outcomes would have been different had your child taken a different path. None of us do.

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