In this post I talk about 10 ways that we are worldschooling our kids while traveling.
When we told people about our travel plans we were inevitably asked about school. What will we do about school while travelling? Are we allowed to take our kids out of school to travel? How will they learn and will they be behind when we return?
The answer is pretty simple – we are worldschooling them. What is worldschooling? It’s when you learn from the world rather than the confines of the classroom. It isn’t just ‘taking your kids on holiday’. It takes commitment, effort and loads of time on the part of the parents to research and make the most of learning opportunities. And it’s way more than just getting the kids to keep a journal while we travel. Although S really enjoys doing that.
So here are 10 ways that we worldschool and incorporate education into travel with L & S. They are now 6 and 9 years and will turn 7 and 10 years old on this trip.
- Currency Conversion
“If 100 Thai Bhat is $4 NZD, and Mum’s cocktail cost 250 Thai Bhat, how many NZD did Mum’s cocktail cost?”
2. Reading and Maths
We use a programme called Reading Eggs for both L & S. They both used this before we started travelling, from about 5 years of age to support their reading. Reading Eggs has programmes for children from 2 – 7 years and Reading Eggspress for 7-13 years to develop comprehension, spelling, grammer and vocabulary. We also have a Mathseeds subscription for maths which is for children up to about 9 years. These are online programmes and we have two cheap tablets that they use for this whenever we have wifi available. Headphones are essential so they don’t distract each other and drive us crazy!
We purchased workbooks in NZ before we left for the relevant year. Year 2-3 for S and Year 5 for L. Although we expect the kids to be in school in UK for some time in the future we are sticking with the NZ curriculum for now. We chose Start Right Workbooks from ESA publications. L has Year 5, Maths, English, Social Studies, Science and a Homework book which covers a bit of everything, handwriting and general knowledge.S has Year 2-3, Maths, English, Social Studies and Homework.
These help keep us parents on track too, so we know what things the curriculum is covering and we can ensure they don’t miss things that aren’t covered organically through travel. The books are split into 40 units for a 40 week school year.
It is a pain carrying all these books but we didn’t want everything to be online and they are great for when we don’t have internet. They are also good for getting the kids writing. Sometimes the work is very independent and other times they need quite a bit of direction from us.
This is an easy one to cover through travel, we enjoy visiting galleries. So far we’ve covered street art and a Batik Art gallery in Penang. We also did a Batik Art workshop in Langkawi. Photography features almost every day, L & S have a small digital camera they take loads of pictures and video. We expect we’ll do lots more art throughout Asia and of course visit amazing galleries in Europe. See this post on 10 ways we Worldschool Art Craft and Culture in Asia.
As well as the workbooks, Science education is all around us but not necessarily structured. We plan to support this with visits to hands on science museums where possible. Read about our visit to Petrosains Discovery Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
Some of our destinations were chosen especially for their once in a lifetime learning opportunities. In Borneo we learned about plants, animals, climates, habitat, endangered species, rainforests, cloud forests, life cycle of plants, uses of plants and so much more!
6. Cooking / Culture / Social Studies
If you want to learn about a place and it’s people, learn about the food. A local cookery lesson will teach you about the origin of a dish and its ingredients. As well as teaching you how to cook! In our cookery class in Penang we tried different herbs and spices and learnt how different cultures have influenced the local cuisine. We’ve also become braver about seeking out street food and tasting local specialities.
7. Journal Writing
S loves to keep her journal up to date, she likes to keep a small ticket or brochure each day. She pastes this into her notebook and writes several sentences about her day. From here we check her spelling and are compiling a list of spelling words for her to practise. To extend this we are working on using more adjectives in our writing and L is practising using Who, What, When, How, Why etc. While S writes about what we did I ask L to write more about what we learned. E.g. A page of information about Sun Bears and why they are endangered. For S she likes to have a page for almost every day, but L prefers to just write when he is interested in something. Journal writing means handwriting practise happens naturally and learning from the day is consolidated. It’s also awesome to see what they write about and which parts of the day stood out for them – not always what you’d expect.
8. Reading Kindle and Books
L is a huge reader, like his Mum, he’ll read anything and everything. He has a Kindle which is essential. Unfortunately he managed to leave it behind in KL, and we’ve had it sent to the UK. But no matter, there is a Kindle app on the tablet. This isn’t my preferred long term solution. I like the Kindle Paperwhite because of the built in light, rather than a back lit screen of the tablet that I would prefer he didn’t read before bedtime. However for now it works fine. Kindle giftcards make a great Christmas or birthday gift for a traveller. L stocked up on the Harry Potter series which he loves to read over and over. We add more books when we need to. It is a cost, but if we were at home we’d be paying school fees for their Montessori school, so I see this as just a cost of their education. Kindle means he can read in transit and it helps quickly pass the time on planes, trains and boats.
S is not quite at the independent reading stage yet, we bought a few small books with us and loaded some kids ones on to my and L’s Kindles for reading practice. It’s not ideal and a bit sad because she loved her books at home and had tons of picture books. We’ll be able to buy her a few new books in the UK.
History is a perfect topic for worldschool because we can see and visit what others only see in books. This is another topic that we cover through destinations and museums. We visited the Cornwallis Fort, the Blue Mansion and the Time Tunnel Museum in Penang, to learn the history of this fascinating trading port, also incorporating WW1 and WW2 history. There are lots more history learning opportunities to come.
10. Physical Education and Health
Already our lifestyle is so much more active than our previous sedentary life. That involved 2 hours a day in cars for Paul and I, and at least an hour a day for the kids. We swim almost every day and Paul is continuing their swimming lessons. They’ve got much better at snorkelling already. We play catch with a mini Nerf Vortex in the pool.
We’ve done rainforest and jungle walks that also included a fair bit of climbing. We find playgrounds for S, because she loves to swing on monkey bars, her upper arm strength is amazing. We did a great obstacle course / adventure playground in Singapore and lots of balance beams, climbing and swinging.
With no car or transport of our own we walk a lot every day. I need to start wearing my fitness tracker again and will post an update but I’m sure we reach 10,000 steps a day easily now. As we move into a few more beach places we hope to do more kayaking which we all enjoy.
L & S learn about health and hygiene and how important it is to wash hands and use sanitizer before eating. Because we eat out all the time, we talk about how to ensure we are having enough fresh fruit and vegetables in our diet, otherwise they would be happy to live on fried rice!
This isn’t everything we do, and I’m not pretending this replaces everything they would do at school, that isn’t the point. But I’m totally confident they are learning every day. This post is just one month into our trip, I’ll do an update later in the year. We’d love to see your comments or questions below.
Read more about our worldschooling here.