Why worldschool in this way?
There are a few reasons why we believe it is a really useful and positive thing to do.
- To make sure our daughter understands how to interact in a class-like, group activity. Developing team-building skills, how to negotiate/share/work on projects etc.
- Having access to teachers who aren’t me is a good thing!
- She can learn from experts in areas that I am not confident on (piano, martial arts, gymnastics etc).
- It provides another opportunity for her to make friends. We wrote more about other ways she is able to socialize.
- It gives us some time off. It’s healthy for all of us to have a bit of space from each other and I really believe that being apart from mum and dad is a good thing!
Don’t you have to enrol in classes for a term/a year?
In the UK the answer to this is usually, but not always, yes. You are often asked to commit to paying for a term and asked to pay up front. We’ve found that other countries are a lot less strict on this and happy to accommodate kids attending activities short-term. Examples of places we’ve been where we can attend activities casually: Thailand, Vietnam, Spain and Greece.
When we’ve been in places that are more strict about enrolment we have managed to find one-off workshops/activities. Looking at when local schools have their breaks is really helpful as you can often access seasonal activities. Eg. summer holiday camps, Easter activities etc.
I should add that we travel slowly, meaning we spend between 1-2 months in any one place. This gives us time to be able to commit to activities and develop a routine around them. I imagine if you travel a lot faster then you may find it harder to tap into local activities.
Research, research, research
Before we travel to the next place I spend a LOT of time researching. Some of that research will be on flights, accommodation, weather etc. but possibly 50% of my research is on finding local activities. These are the things I do:
- Find, join and search local Facebook groups. I find these groups are the most amazing resource for finding activities. It makes sense that locals and expats will know a lot about the areas they are in. I will do a search in Facebook for the place name, for example, “Hoi An” and then look through the groups that are listed. This is what I found in Hoi An: “Hoi An mums”, “Hoi An homeschoolers”, “Hoi An expats” etc.
Then use the search button within that group to look up “kids class” or “workshop” or just introduce yourself to the community and ask.
- Google search. Of course you should do a Google search to see if you can find anything. Depending on where you are going you may have some success with this. When we were in Athens I Googled “cooking classes for kids” and found a weekly class that was suitable. In some places web pages for businesses isn’t really popular yet (for example, Mexico) so it will depend on the place you’re in.
- When I know where we will be staying I use Google Maps to see what is around the neighbourhood we’re in. You can type in “children’s art classes near me” or “baking courses near me” or whatever you are looking for and it will bring up all the places near you which might be useful. In Gladstone, Australia this is how we found a local gymnastics camp for our daughter.
- Tap into local community centres and libraries. These places can help you find really good local information and will often be the venue for where activities are held. In Brisbane we went to our local library and found they were offering free coding workshops for kids. They were happy for us to attend despite not being local residents.
- Local English language papers/magazines. If you can find these then they often have tonnes of great information about the local area and local classes.
- Lastly, ask other travelling families and worldschoolers! There are loads of us out there and chances are we have been to some of the same places. It’s always worth a punt, what have you got to lose? We met some lovely worldschooling famlies in Prague and they told us about the Class Acts Summer Camp that our daughter went to. She learnt about being a journalist and the kids made a newspaper together.
Use your initiative
All of these things take a lot of initiative and time. I end up sending countless emails, messages and also making good old fashioned phone calls. You do need to step outside your comfort zone and get used to asking for all the info and explaining about your unique position of not committing long-term. However, we have found most places to be really receptive and welcoming. And if the organisation can’t accommodate you then just move on to the next one.
Have you used local classes and activities as you travel? What have been your favourites?