Defining Our EducationPosted on Jun 30, 2011 | 11 comments
What's the first thing everyone asks us when we say we are setting out to travel for life?
That's Easy. The question is always the same.
How Are You Going To Afford That?
Well, I don't have a definitive answer for that one yet. But as many of you know, we are working on it.
The second question everyone asks pretty much follows like this:
What about the kids?
Kids? What about them? I don't understand.
They will go with you?
Are you worried?
Missing school and all that?
Missing School? Worried? No. Not for a second! Actually, we are ALL really looking forward to it.
We much pretty much left our fears around educating our kids while we travel back at the last rest stop. Now we are moving forward.
6 months ago, were we worried? YES!
We worried about keeping logs, following labels, socialization, meeting standards. We worried about screwing our kids up for the rest of their lives because we caught a little travel bug.
But those worries are now gone. And they were cured by, of all things, education.
I decided to write this post to help answer popular question #2 and share with you all some of the ideas and people that helped calm our nerves.
You see, good education kills fear. We all fear what we don't know. When we get answers, we get a lot more confident with our decision making. That said, you never stop learning. I would love for those among us who have experiences or opinions on the matter to help us try and label the educational approaches you will read in about in this post.
No doubt I HATE labels, but I figure if more experienced educators can get some insight into our style and say,
"Hey, what you're describing here sounds an awful lot like _______________________,"
then we can track down some info and learn a bit more. Makes sense right? Great! Here we go.
Introducing . . .
THE GREAT FAMILY ESCAPE'S WANDERING CARAVAN OF ACCIDENTAL LEARNING, PLANNED DISCOVERY AND FRIENDLY STRANGERS
Here you go. The answer to question #2. Here is how we plan to educate, socialize and travel the world with our children.
We Learn As We Go
This morning, while on my way to drop my son Sam off for another tearful, preschool goodbye, we made a pit stop. Walking by the local auto shop Sam overheard the sound of a mechanic removing some tires. He froze. Mesmerized.
Over the next 4 minutes Sam managed to ask me about 47 questions ranging from the "What's the man doin'?" to "Who has the socks?". I answered everything he threw my way. I even took a few moments to elaborate a bit on his question about internal combustion engines and whether or not modern modifications to these engines have managed to impact the effects of global warming. Sam is quite bright for a two year old.
A short time ago I would have pushed Sam on to preschool and passed on watching him stare at a mechanic for 4 minutes. Not anymore. It doesn't make any sense in the world to pawn my kid off to someone else for an education and then complain about the lack of education he is receiving. At last - I have come to my senses.
When we travel we will stop and smell the roses every chance we get. We will take on learning opportunities as they develop, as our kids seek them out. We will stop and stare for as long as it takes.
Today Sam saw his first engine. Sure he's seen a car and its parts before, but today he saw an ENGINE! Was it an internal combustion engine? I have no clue. Google helped me out with that one. And any time Sam has a question about cars or anything else in the future, that's where we go. We stop and learn and learn some more. The world is huge and opportunities are everywhere. We can't wait to start exploring it.
Playing It A Little By The Book
At 6AM I was sitting with Sam as he tried to teach me how to play the board game SORRY.
You HAVE to make the MATCH. Here it goes and you get the man to the number match. You put the color number on the color and you make the MATCH! SO - the match? The number! You See? You got it Dada?
Yeah! Of Course! I've got it buddy. Thanks for the lesson.
No doubt it is important to let Sam have his run here as game show host. He is exploring, learning, finding his way. Even if it doesn't make ANY sense to me at this point, the kid has to be given some room to roam.
But I have a dilemma.
If I don't throw in some structure and guidance at some point, Sam winds up becoming one of two things:
A) The creator of the most brilliant game show to ever appear on prime time television.
B) The guy that just can't seem to fit in with the SORRY addicts because he just never learned the right way to play.
I can't stand forcing kids into an educational outfit that just doesn't fit right, but I also want to make sure my kids have the option to follow the standard path, even if it means bowing to the ways of convention. Being different is wonderful, assuming you are good at it!
Our plan is to gather the standards from our local school system and make sure the kids stay ahead of the curve. We will have set structured school hours 4 days a week, 3 or so hours a day. Heidi is really studying up on the fastest and most effective ways to keep all the kids' "schoolwork" in a digital form so we will have some evidence of education if and when our kids choose conventional high school or college.
Sure we will be creative in our approach to learning, but there is nothing fun about walking into a school full of SORRY nuts and not having any clue what anyone is talking about. We want to make sure our kids know societies' standards, on both life and education. You never know what lies down the road. We think it's best to be prepared.
Oh . . . the people you will meet!
Our biggest concern for our kids before we decided to fully jump into this life of travel thing was how the kids would be affected by it socially.
Won't they miss their friends, family, teachers? Won't they miss play dates and ballet? Pee-Wee Soccer?
6 months ago Heidi and I really stressed over this.
A few months later I found myself writing an email to a fellow travel blogger whom I had never met nor had any conversation with before IN MY LIFE. The email read like this:
You're coming to the US? Fantastic! We are up in Boston. If you come this way give us a shout. You're welcome to crash at our place as long as you can handle my son ramming down your door every morning. Plus we would be happy to show you the city and vent/celebrate on our lives as bloggers.
Let us know. I know this email is quite forward, but such is the life we lead.
Now, I have neighborhood acquaintances to whom I would NEVER think of sending emails like this.
Why is that?
Why is it the only people I have ever become real friends with in a pub were visiting from Ireland?
Why is it that when we travel we get brave, social, adventurous?
I am not sure, but that is EXACTLY how travel works. I am not a overtly social person. Not even close. Except when I travel.
I can only assume the same model applies for my kids and everyone else. Travel is Social!
I think Heidi and I let go of our fears of socialization as soon as we realized how many great people we were going to meet as we traveled.
Those Who Have Helped Shape Our Educational Model
I am not going to give you a huge list of books and Harvard professors with books.
Instead I will list for you the bloggers and blogs Heidi and I follow and chat with regularly. I can tell you that these people and their ideas have helped instill in us the last bit of confidence we needed to make this dream a reality.
Do I agree with every educational philosophy these guys follow?
If we all agreed, what would we blog about?!
Do I think these people are fantastic educators, wonderful parents, and wild travelers?
I highly recommend exploring these websites and connecting with these individuals if you are considering a long life of travel with kids. I have linked to articles they have written on education that we have explored.
The Edventure Project: No one has helped us more around education and travel than Jennifer and Tony Miller.
Worldschool Adventures: Amy, my fellow soon-to-be traveler, practices what she preaches. She's a worldschooler at home until travel gets going. And she gives me tons of advice!
Livin on the Road: Amy Page is Heidi's online kindred spirit and our kids seem to beat to the same drum. Her blog has taught us a bunch.
Family On Bikes: Nancy Sathre-Vogel has offered up more thoughtful questions on her blog and Facebook regarding education than pretty much anyone else I know. And she traveled for 3 years straight with her boys!
Raising Miro: Lainie Liberti runs a massive blog dedicated to the education of her son and she is willing and eager to discuss and explore education til the sun comes up.
The Sattvic Family: Every email I get from Elizabeth cracks me up. Few people are as honest and down to earth on education and everything else, plus these guys have a lot of great advice on the subject.
Thanks a bunch to all these crazy teachers!
When it comes to our kids, the more input we have the better. I would love to hear what you think of our educational travel plans and how you are planning on educating your own children.
All The Best in Your Adventures!