How do you educate your kids on the move? Travel family adventure worldschool worldschooling unschooling

How do you educate your kids as you travel?

Suewan Kemp The BIG travel questions, Worldschooling Leave a Comment

Probably one of the trickier subjects we are asked about frequently is “How do you educate your kid as you travel?”. Or sometimes “How will she learn anything when she’s not at school???” [Sigh.]

Facepalm

We have no problems in answering the question but it seems that there are a LOT of people out there (yes, family and friends included) who cannot understand or accept that there is more to education than your traditional school.

So in this article, we speak to 5 families about how they educate their kids.

(We wrote about how we worldschool Roobs in another post)

The Milne-Tyte family

The Milne Tyte Family travel adventure

Tell us about your family

We are Vaida, Ali, Poppy (8) and Jonny (4) from London on a family gap year. We decided to take a year out to travel together around Asia and South America, to reconnect with each other, see the world, taste new foods and learn new things.

How are you educating your kids?

We are homeschooling while travelling. In the UK this way of education is very liberal and flexible. Everyone has the right educate their own kids and it’s up to the parents to make up the curriculum, or they can follow the national one. We are doing a little bit of ‘serious’ schooling where we sit down for maths and English, but in all fairness, it’s starting to happen less and less.

We do carry some workbooks and apps on the iPad with us to support our kids’ learning but we find that the best lessons come from life itself: travelling through exciting countries, hearing other languages and experiencing different ways of living.

They now know about:

  • Hindu gods and the story of Buddha,
  • What elephants eat and how their skin feels,
  • What children play with in rural Laos,
  • What people have for lunch in Vietnam,
  • They can tell you what colour Mekong river is,
  •  How sticky rice is grown,
  • 20 ways to use bamboo!

Most importantly – the four of us spend 24/7 together, which means now we always have time for philosophical questions, music (Ali travels with his guitar and kids love singing with him), reading together, and discovering quirky little things both in nature and cities that we simply had no time to stop for before.

We used to worry whether we are doing enough of “sit down” homeschooling with them (2 hours a day at the most, sometimes none at all) but now we are 6 months into our trip and we think they are going to be just fine.

Poppy and Jonny have grown so much internally, their view of the world and life has expanded enormously, they are such open-minded, self-confident, independent little people – I think we have given them the best education possible.

What have been the best and worst things about educating them on the road?

It’s hard to get yourself organised, to squeeze in a homeschooling session between visiting a temple, fruit shopping at the market, hiking to the waterfall and catching the sunset. Sometimes we have to let go and remind ourselves that everything we do is educational in some way and we do not have to stress out. The best thing about all this is being together as a family, we are closer than we’ve ever been and we get to know our children so well.

It’s been interesting for us, parents, to find ourselves in teachers’ roles. Ali is a natural and I am less patient. Ali is better at teaching Maths and I do English and creative stuff. It’s constant learning for all of us and we feel united as a family. We find a lot of fun in it too – creating stories, making up silly songs together, or simply playing card games!

Everything can be a lesson if you spin it the right way 😉 


The Trabue-Epperson family

Our Wandering Family RV family travel long term

Introduce your family

Hello from the road! We are Jason, Abby, Jack, Ethan and Henry, a full-time traveling family who purchased a school bus, converted it into an RV, and named her Wander Bus. We sold or donated everything we owned and left our Chicago life behind in the Fall of 2016 to travel America full-time.

We are National Park enthusiasts and Disney junkies. We run four different websites, two focused on travel (RVMiles.com and ourwanderingfamily.com), and two focused on the theater/performing arts industries in Chicago and Kansas City (Perform.Ink. KC.Perform.Ink).

We are also the voices behind the RV Miles podcast, and coming soon, the America’s National Parks podcast. We have no idea how long we’ll be on the road, and like everything in life, we try to take it a moment at a time and enjoy the ride.

How are you educating your kids?

Our Wandering family long term travel RV

We consider ourselves an unschooling/ roadschooling family and let our children and our travels drive our educational choices and interests.

Our kids participate in Junior Ranger programs at every park we visit and are currently JR’s in 12 different National Park Service sites.

We were unschoolers prior to getting on the road, but our travels have really solidified our stance. Our kids are unique, and each has a special trait about them that we feel can’t be boxed in by a curriculum or our wants.

We also believe that education is a freedom that all parents and children should be allowed to make and shift as time requires. What works for one may not work for another, and what works for us today may not work tomorrow. We keep our minds open and we allow our kids’ interests to take front and center. The results have been amazing and surprising.

What have been the best and worst things about educating them on the road?

This is a hard question to answer only because education is such a natural part of our day to day lives that to single it out is almost impossible. The ability to show them our country and to take learning out of a book is an undeniable bonus. That our kids can touch, see, smell, interact and move at their own pace with nature is spectacular.

If we had to pull our biggest challenge out it would be homesickness for friends back in Chicago. We were a part of a vibrant and active homeschool community and have made lifelong friends, friends we do miss seeing on a regular basis. We solve this through Skype and other kid-friendly platforms to stay in touch, and we try to return to Chicago as much as possible, but there is no denying the beauty and joy that comes from face to face connections with your best friends.

Connect with these guys by following them here: ourwanderingfamily.com and on Facebook


The Longsmith family

The Longsmith family

Introduce your family

Hola, we are the Longsmith family. Originally from Vermont, USA, we are slow-traveling through centro y sur america while working remotely and sharing new experiences with our two boys, ages 3 & 11. We started in August and have spent 5+ weeks in Puerto Vallarta (MEX), Antigua & Atitlan (GUA) and are now in Granada, Nicaragua after we spent December in San Juan Del Sur. Our next destinations are Colombia and Ecuador in South America!

How are you educating your kids?

For many years our oldest son, Desmond, has tested out way ahead of public school classmates in Vermont and was especially frustrated by mediocre Spanish language education and the lack of physical activity offered by the local school system. As my wife and I had transitioned our jobs to being 100% remote, we were able to put into motion a long-held desire to travel extensively with our small family.

We formulated a loose concept of world/ unschooling Desmond with Spanish immersion classes, the Khan Academy math curriculum, a personal blog, and learning as much as possible about the countries and cultures we were visiting. At the same time, I also care for Saul – a two and a half-year-old with a whirlwind of curly hair and a deep love for Paw Patrol.

In Antigua, Desmond accrued more hours of Spanish learning in one month that he would have in more than a year at his old school! He biked by himself on cobblestone streets to his escuela and in the afternoons we would shop in the mercado and go on school excursions to local places of interest.

The remoteness of our Lake Atitlan stay forced us to adapt and Desmond focused more on blogging, hiking, and studying the unique topography and history of the lake. He also earned the first half of his open water SCUBA certification, diving in a mile-high lake!

Puerto Vallarta offered many options and we hired a tutor to work on Spanish with Desmond twice a week. A local library offered drawing classes and he rode his scooter to and from class twice a week, as well. He continued to work online with Khan Academy and also with blogging and email correspondence with friends. It was here that he completed his open water SCUBA certification.

We followed a similar path in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua – hiring a tutor and immersing him in the local environment and culture. He also attended a day camp for a week – a welcome addition of kids his age into his world. As we considered our next location – Granada, Nicaragua – various factors started to change our educational path.

My full-time commitment to taking care of Saul – on top of shopping for and cooking most of the food we ate – plus my 5-10 hours of remote work per week – was leaving Desmond without much focused guidance and he was starting to stagnate. At this time we uncovered a basketball “boot camp” in Grenada and – shockingly – an International School that was welcoming and affordable. So here we are in Granada with BOTH kids in school and Desmond having a school and basketball community to stimulate him.

Saul has amazingly adapted to a 7.30am bus to school and being away from his family for 5+ hours a day. We’re barely a week into this new arrangement but so far we are all benefitting from the arrangement. Sara’s work at home is quieter and less full of distractions. Desmond is excited about school and happily exhausted every night. Saul is in a Kinder-2 program and comes home chipper and filthy all by himself on the bus at 1pm each afternoon.

And Dad? Dad has time to get some exercise and begin catching up on months of lost blogging about Los Aventureros Longsmith!

What have been the best and worst things about educating on the road?

I have no regrets with our initial approach – we had a lot of family time to bond and explore our new environments. Desmond improved his self-sufficiency and confidence and was constantly exposed to volcanoes, surf beaches, waterfalls, marketplaces, fincas, parque centrals, and hiking trails. Throw in some zip-lines, malecon-skating, and SCUBA training and I’d say he had an excellent first half of a school year!

As I mentioned, it did eventually become clear that both kids were getting less than 100% dad, as I stretched to find activities and opportunities for the kids to learn and explore.

Catch up with the Longsmith family’s adventures here:
instagram.com/family_aventureros
desmondinjamaica.blogspot.com
losadventureroslongsmith.blogspot.com 


The Heggie family

The Heggie family

Tell us about your family

We are an Australian family who travels full-time. Brett (dad), Leanne (mum) and Miss B (10) make up ‘Cake and Eat it 3′. We also have an adult daughter who enjoyed lots of travel with us growing up too.

While in Australia we travel in a motorhome and also drive a 4×4 with a rooftop tent to explore the hard to reach places.

Last year we did three and a half months in Europe and this year we are coming back for five months. We bought a campervan in England which we road trip in. In a week from now, we are off to Bali, Indonesia to our dentist and catching up with family, friends and another worldschool family. The whole time, we worldschool our child.

How are you educating your daughter?

A lot of education or worldschooling happens without you even realising. When you travel whether as a child or an adult you experience different cultures, food and situations. Situations that you just don’t come across living in the same house on the same street, seeing the same people every day at school and work. It opens our eyes to the fact there is more than one way to do something. It makes you realise you do not need a whole lot to make you happy and that you can learn from anyone of any age.

There is no rulebook when it comes to worldschooling, everyone worldschools differently. Being from Australia we try to maintain Miss B’s education in line with the Australian curriculum. We use an online paid membership called Studyladder that offers curriculum-based subjects in the key areas, which we use when we have excess wifi (what is that?!) or access to a library (free wifi).

While on the road we do reading every day, at the moment we are working our way through the Roald Dahl library. We take Grammar, Math and Spelling workbooks with us which we do a unit a week from. Miss B also reads all the information plaques and boards from the various places we visit!

We cook food from various countries, talk currency conversion, time differences, learn some of the languages and try and converse as much as possible, even in our own country with backpackers and travellers alike. We also created a large database of educational websites and resources which we share on our blog for other travelling families. We refer back to this database while on the road to save time hunting down information and educational content on a particular subject or topics.

Leanne and Miss B worldschooling

We carry a large digital library of reference books, documentaries and movies. When visiting Rome, we all watched Ben Hur the night before going to the Colosseum! This led to a lot more questions (more than usual!) and a better understanding of what it would have been like at the time. In Pompeii, we watched documentaries on the tragedy and had climbed Mt Etna in Sicily a week or so earlier, so lots of discussions on volcanoes were had!

Some kids are practical learners, others visual learners, and some learn better from reading text. The success of worldschooling or homeschooling comes from how well we know our children and the way they absorb information. This coupled with one on one learning which we all provide our kids really enhances the volume and speed in which they take in this new information. The whole time we are learning, something we as parents love too.

Miss B was athletic champion of her last year at traditional school. Those who knew of our plan to full-time travel questioned how we would incorporate physical education in our travel. Generally, comments like that come from people who have not travelled a lot (or not with my husband, who is a strong believer in being on the ground, walking everywhere to truly experience a local area!).

No, she cannot attend a sports carnival once a year and inter-school athletics. But, there are worldwide parkrun events held weekly that are free that allow you to run 5km (great for socialisation and meeting new friends too). There are plenty of hiking trails, cities to explore and invitations to be involved in sports.

While in Europe Miss B played badminton in Romania and France, hours swimming in the labyrinth of natural cave baths in Hungary, swimming again in the Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea and Tyrrhenian Sea. We climbed a volcano in Sicily and go on nature walks everywhere around the globe. Being active is something Miss B will not be able to avoid and something we all love.

What have been the best and worst things about educating her on the road?

The best part of worldschooling is knowing where your child is at academically. Being able to spend genuine time together (not trying to talk while getting ready for work/ school, or doing homework while they are tired and you’re cooking dinner). Watching them grow through experiences they encounter, this is real family time.

It is not all sunshine and roses with worldschooling (although in fairness it is very rare for us to have a bad day and there were a lot more bad days when we were in traditional schooling). There are days where it’s just not happening. If Miss B knows it is school holidays she’ll question why she has to do schoolwork! But this is soon replaced with “Everyone should get to do school like this!” at the next amazing place we visit.

When full-time travelling there will be days when you feel over-travelled. You have seen too many churches, museums, castles or walked too many kilometres in 35 degrees heat. Patience can be tested—these are good times to avoid schooling!

We are more formal than most in our approach, so don’t pressure yourself to achieve a certain number of hours a day or certain modules. It will all come together in time. Sometimes an activity or destination takes you off on an unexpected journey of discovery and exploration—roll with it. When a person (irrespective of age) is engaged in learning about something, their ability to absorb new information and enjoyment in doing so is magnified.

Happy travels and see you out there!

You can see where Leanne and her family are at the moment at www.cakeandeatit3.com


The Kingsland-Barrow family

Digital nomad family Kingsland Barrow family travelling adventure rtw

Who are you?

I’m Charlie Kingsland-Barrow, soul-led author, entrepreneur and coach, wife to Rob, a copywriter, and we have two daughters age 6 and 4. We’re currently located in a château in rural France for the next four months, after an unintended 3 years in Cyprus!

How are you educating your kids?

Flexibly! With Waldorf and unschooling principles as our very rough guide…

We make sure the kids spend time outside every day come rain or shine, wherever we are, encouraging them to immerse in nature. We believe appreciation of nature leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of the self and our place in the world, leading to more fundamental things like physical confidence, exploration, and imagination.

We are now in France for 7 months and then on to either Slovenia or Spain, with other trips in between around the globe – but we are aiming to have ‘bases’ and loose roots through a slow travelling journey. This way it helps the children to create attachments and relationships whilst enabling us to dive deeply into a particular location and appreciate more of it.

It also helps with language skills and immersion into local culture which is important for us – it’s an amazing thing to witness your children learn to speak more of the local language than you do! They pick it up so quickly! We also try to establish a sense of rhythm every day, particularly around family mealtimes – we light candles, say gratitude prayers and blessings and all eat together as a family three times a day. This helps provide stability and connection, particularly in a lifestyle which otherwise might feel a bit unsettling.

We order weekly ‘packs’ from Amazon when we might be living more rurally and unable to access craft stores or similar easily, which are usually creative in nature and always led by their interests – they’ve just finished making stop motion animation movies and have now requested a kit for making volcanos! Ultimately our style of education aims to give them confidence to explore and develop their own passions and interests and nurture a love for learning, while at the same time following the stripped back, Steiner philosophies of love for nature, self, and one another.

I try to bring a little magic into every day—whether that’s using Pinterest for nature-based treasure hunts or Rob making pancake towers for lunch. Because of our lifestyle, our kids naturally don’t have a ton of toys and are wildly creative with boxes and wooden objects! We also have a focus on storytelling and most afternoons we spend quiet time telling fairytales and reading books together.

What have been the best and worst things about educating them on the road?

Worst thing:
Watching them cry at leaving behind the familiar, our girls form really deep attachments to places and people they’ve only ever seen once! And it’s hard taking them away from that which they naturally root towards, and also when we forget about daily rhythm or our conscious parenting slips occasionally, they soon let us know!

Best things:
Being able to show them the world and share experiences together. I’ve watched them learn to swim in the sea, pick grapes every day in an orchard, speak confidently to locals in Greek, sail boats, learn to read by looking at street signs, run around castles and ancient ruins, rescue stray animals and watch the sun set on the beach together and marvel at creatures we cannot name.

We’ve climbed mountains, paddled in streams and taken road trips while every other child their age would be behind a desk or taking the odd regimented day trip here and there – to be able to provide an education through the wonders of travel and the world is a beautiful experience for all of us, in so many ways.

Find out more about the Kingsland-Barrows at www.worklessrevolution.com


There are just so many different ways of educating your children as you travel. What we’ve learnt is that all of us are different and the ways we teach and learn are unique to each family.

I love the flexibility and creativity we all have as “worldschoolers”. 

Do you have any other experiences you’d like to share, or any questions for us? Post them in the comments below.

As a family that travels long term we are often asked

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