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A Traveling Homeschooler: Can you really homeschool while traveling?

I haven’t always been a homeschooler. I also haven’t always been a traveler. Just as I haven’t always been a wife and a mother, these adjectives came to me over time and have become a permanent part of my identity. Just like becoming a wife and a mother stretched me and challenged me, so has becoming a traveling homeschooler. Every year brings new challenges, more difficult subjects, and anxieties over whether or not we are covering everything with our constant on the go lifestyle. Navigating and coordinating life as traveling homeschoolers is always a learning process, but one I wouldn’t trade for any other lifestyle.

Because we do travel so frequently, many people are curious to know how we homeschool and whether we can really homeschool on the go. So I decided I would share a bit about my particular flavor of traveling homeschool with you in a series of posts discussing the various homeschool philosophies as they apply to the traveling family.

Thinking about how to best describe how we homeschool and travel, led me to begin researching and thinking about the adjectives that best describe this aspect of our lives. I asked myself,

‘Are we travelers who homeschool or are we homeschoolers who travel and is there a difference?

In the following series of posts, I will go over the most commonly used terms to describe traveling homeschoolers and the philosophy we currently employ.

Ultimately, however, as you will see, all these terms describe the same essential educational mindset: travel is still the most intense mode of learning, and is, therefore, essential to creating lifelong learners.

homeschooling travelers

Why Traveling Homeschoolers?

Traveling frequently came to us quite accidentally over time. Because my husband and I are both professionals, we are required to keep a certain amount of continuing education to maintain our licensures. We quickly realized that we could combine business with leisure and turn our convention trips into mini family vacations.

The Old North Church Boston, MA

Being young and naive parents, we didn’t let the birth of our children change our passion for travel. Talk about an education! It’s taken more than ten years and I’m still learning ways to travel with kids and keep my sanity!

After I began homeschooling, my enthusiasm for travel was catapulted to a whole new level. We started reading wonderful books like Mr. Pipes Comes to America, The Camping Trip That Changed America, and That Jefferson Boy. I was entranced!

While my educational style doesn’t quite fit neatly into any particular definition of traveling homeschoolers, nor does it fit neatly into the Charlotte Mason “purist” philosophy, by combining the use of rich living books from our homeschool studies with our love for experiencing travel, we are able to foster an “atmosphere” which enhances the living ideas that my children encounter in their books.

 “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.”

Charlotte Mason

However, because I have chosen to follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy for my homeschool, living books and living life on the go fits very naturally together. Traveling naturally enhances our homeschool experience.

When we spend a semester reading about the lives of men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and then take a road trip through Virginia to explore their towns, homes, and lives, the children make valuable connections and truly own the knowledge they have acquired.

There is no replacement for the joy I felt when my children squealed with excitement when they saw The Old North Church while trekking on the Freedom Trail in Boston after having learned to recite, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the previous year.

When we study the habitats and biology of black bears through our special studies and then spend the weekend hiking in the Smoky Mountains or driving through Cades Cove to spot black bears, the kids become more enthusiastic about being in the car.

For us, being traveling homeschoolers was as natural as breathing, and I can’t imagine doing school any other way.

What Is Worldschooling?

If you do a quick Google search using the terms “travel and homeschool” you will most often see the following terms: roadschooling and worldschooling. As I began researching what type of traveling homeschoolers we are, I wasn’t sure if worldschooling was the best definition. However, after a bit of research, I decided that we are, in fact, worldschoolers even though our traveling isn’t always international and we aren’t a full time nomadic family. Here’s why.

What is worldschool?

Worldschooling can mean you live a nomadic lifestyle and teach your kids on the road through the connections they make with the locations and people they encounter.

Worldschooling can also mean you have a base home, but you incorporate travel into your education plan utilizing your vacations, weekends, and holidays to enhance the education you give your children throughout the year.

In our case, we are currently more in the latter category as we don’t live a nomadic lifestyle. However, we do teach our kids through the connections they make when we travel and with the people they encounter and we utilize vacations, weekends, holidays, as well as camping, long road trips, RVing, and summer staycations. In that sense, we are worldschoolers.

Does worldschooling mean you have to travel internationally?

I wondered this at first, myself. I wondered, can I really call myself a worldschooler since we haven’t done much international travel. However, after reading the definition provided by World Travel Family,

Worldschooling is providing and finding education from the real world.”

I decided that, yes, that definition fits us perfectly.

If you only travel on the weekends exploring a neighboring town or you enjoy staycation summers hiking through local caves and touring local artisan galleries, you are a worldschooler!

If you never leave your home country, but take advantage of the national parks and long road trips to see the sites, you are still a worldschooler.

If travel is an important aspect of your child’s education, you are, in my opinion, a world schooler.

boston with kids

Does worldschooling mean I am teaching my kids to embrace the world’s philosophies?

As a Christian homeschooler, certainly, the idea of exposing my child to the “world” can have some scary connotations. Worldschooling doesn’t mean that you are teaching your kids to embrace philosophies contrary to your values. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Because I have chosen to give my children a liberal arts “living education” using the Charlotte Mason method, we are continually introduced to books that open our minds to our rich American and British history, the beauty of God’s creation through natural history and nature studies, and the incredible characters that have made America the culturally distinctive nation that she has become.

We evaluate the great governments of the past and discuss both the good qualities and not so good qualities of history’s “heroes”.

Because we have an open and healthy dialogue about the living books we read (The Bible being the ultimate living book), our children have an atmosphere where they can be exposed to the various cultures and philosophies of the world and evaluate them against the truths we hold.

I am not afraid to let them test the truth because I am able to build a strong foundation of truth for them when we read and study. Then when they encounter a philosophy or cultural view that is different than our own, they are better equipped to to test all things against the Word of God. This especially comes into play when we visit museums and national parks. We don’t often hold the same views as those being espoused in the educational materials, but we can talk about them and why we agree or disagree. That is what an individual thinker does, and that is what I am aiming to train my children to become.

While you may or may not hold these same views, I feel that letting my children experience life through travel is a great way to prepare them for facing the world they will live in once they are out from under our protective watch.

Life has a way of exposing your kids with or without travel, so preparing them while you have them at home and under your supervision is far better than sending them into the world unaware of what they will encounter.

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Check out the Fearless Family Travel link up for other family travel bloggers to follow.

Do you consider yourself a worldschooler, why or why not?

10 thoughts on “A Traveling Homeschooler: Can you really homeschool while traveling?”

  1. Loved reading this. I’m a teacher by trade but have also taken my boys out of school for a year to travel the world! I’m a definite believer in the power of education through travel, whether you’re close to home or far away, there are so many opportunities to learn. #fearlessfamtrav

  2. It is interesting reading how to consider whether you are a worldschooler or not. And it makes perfect sense that learning about the world and gaining an education from travelling doesn’t always mean you need to be a world traveller. I fully admire anyone who takes on educating their kids themselves as I’m not sure I’d have the patience for it. But if I were I’d most likely consider myself a worldschooler in that situation. #fearlessfamtrav

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