What is Worldschooling? And Can You Afford It?

Travel! See the world! And take your kids.

Many educators believe that children benefit by being exposed to history, culture, and nature as they grow. Whether you travel to all the National Parks in the United States or to see the ruins in Europe, children thrive through life experience and can develop a stronger sense of self and the world around them.

It’s not so unusual. Think about field trips: Kids learn about historical events by visiting places where they occurred. They learn about animals by seeing them in their natural habitats. Learning about money? What better way to practice money sense than by going on a learning adventure to your local grocery store.

Worldschooling takes the idea of learning on the go to a whole new level. Today, we’ll learn about worldschooling, its benefits, and its detractors.

What is Worldschooling?

Worldschooling is a newer “buzzword” type of homeschooling that occurs both inside and outside the home. In fact, it occurs on a global scale.

For families who worldschool, the world is their classroom. They travel together, using their trips as opportunities to learn about different areas, cultures, languages, and histories. 

Worldschooling isn’t curriculum specific. In fact, worldschoolers typically pull from various resources to educate their children based on the area they are visiting and the core subjects they need to teach.

Contrary to one might think, worldschooling doesn’t necessarily mean traveling all the time. In fact, most people can’t “worldschool” year round. In reality, most families who worldschool travel over the summer and during breaks in the spring and fall.

Worldschooling also isn’t the same as roadschooling. While similar, roadschooling typically refers to domestic travel. Worldschooling can include domestic travel, but also includes international trips.

Because the heart of worldschooling is just traveling with intention and an eagerness to learn, elements of this method can be incorporated into any curriculum.

 “One must travel to learn.”

– Mark Twain

Can You Afford Worldschooling?

One of the biggest concerns people have about worldschooling is whether or not it’s affordable. The truth is, the cost of worldschooling can vary greatly depending on your family’s lifestyle and travel preferences. 

Of course, if your family is willing to rough it a little, you’ll be able to get by on a tighter budget.

Do you envision settling down for dinner at a thrifty Airbnb after a day of sightseeing?

Or does a trip to Italy mean dining out every night and staying at a nice hotel?

If the latter sounds more like your speed, you’ll need a bigger budget, so check the couch for extra change now.

Jokes aside, if you consider that many of the “best schools” in the country cost over $15,000 in tuition a year, you’ve got plenty to work with if you can save up. What if you slid that money over to your travel budget instead of writing a check to that fancy private school down the street? Personally, I believe there are few better educational investments in this world than travel.

To get a better idea of what your worldschooling costs would look like, start by sitting down with your family to create a realistic budget. Factor in the cost of travel, accommodations, food, activities, and other expenses you might incur along the way. Once you have an idea of what your budget might look like, you’ll be able to determine how much worldschooling you can incorporate into your child’s education.

“The best education you’ll get is traveling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world and accumulating experiences.”

Mark Patterson

The Major Benefits of Worldschooling

What draws homeschool parents to worldschooling? Many are just travelers at heart — they travel because it’s valuable to them, and they are eager to share these values with their children. Obviously, there are some wonderful benefits for the student as well.

1. Worldschooling allows children to learn hands-on.

Consider teaching a child about Thomas Edison by taking them to the Thomas Edison National Historic Park. Your child isn’t learning about Thomas Edison by reading paragraphs from a page; they are learning about Thomas Edison by walking through his home and lab.

In this instance, history becomes more “real” to them — and it’s better consumed. As you worldschool, your child will absorb more information and will have a vivid, memorable connection to it. Worldschooling turns everything into an experience and lets the student connect to things like history and science on a personal level.

2. Families who worldschool often form close bonds with one another.

Typically, when you travel as a family, you are spending more of your day together than when you are caught up in your day to day routines at home. You’re spending time outside of your comfort zone, sharing new experiences, learning about one another, and growing closer because you are spending more intentional time together.

When you worldschool, learning doesn’t have to feel like learning. It can feel like exploring. It can feel like adventure. And it can generate some really interesting conversations and bonding opportunities along the way.

My favorite thing about worldschooling is that it naturally creates an environment where you are learning alongside your child as you experience life together.

3. Worldschooling gives children the opportunity to learn about other cultures firsthand.

Children who worldschool become more aware of the cultures and the environment around them — and consequently, they will grow to understand themselves and their place in the world better. Worldschooling is such an amazing way for children to experience the immense diversity that exists amongst us, and the different ways people live. In some cases, it may even deepen their appreciation of their own lives back home.

Being exposed to so many different types of people and situations can help children learn to be more understanding and accepting, as they come to appreciate the beauty in our differences.

4. Worldschooling can be less expensive than traditional schooling

Of course, this is not always the case, but it can be. Sure, public school comes with little out-of-pocket costs but as we mentioned above, private school is pricy. The average annual tuition for a private grade school is $12,500 and rising!

When you worldschool, you eliminate the costs of tuition, school uniforms, and other associated expenses. Plus, if you travel during the off-season and are strategic with your travel dates and plans, you can take advantage of lower prices.

The trickier part of making worldschool a reality is often having two parents who can work on the go or afford to take some extended time off. Luckily, more and more jobs are welcoming employees to work remotely, so this is becoming less of a financial challenge than in years past.

5. Worldschooling can be tailored to an individual child’s needs and interests.

Does your child enjoy learning about ancient Greece? Use their interest as a jumping-off point to teach them about things such as architecture, art, and science. Are they really into nature? Explore different biomes across the world and the animals that live there. Worldschooling gives you a unique opportunity to make learning fun and focus on things that your child is interested in.

Get creative with your lessons and you can even make core subjects like Math and English more interesting. What if your English lesson was a journal of your day sightseeing, with a focus on the topic your student is currently learning? Learning about adjectives? Have your child describe their day using as many adjectives as they can. Older students can work on diagramming sentences in their journal entries, or have them design a PR marketing campaign for the area. Is your child a planner like mine? Have them help brainstorm your schedule for each day, and practice elements of time and budgeting along the way.

6. Worldschooling gets children truly excited about learning.

Most children would get excited about going to the zoo, but not too many get excited about doing their schoolwork. Learning is inherent in both cases; but a trip to the zoo is an event that they can look forward to. It’s an adventure. In much the same way, learning through travel can up the ante of excitement in a way that’s hard to replicate sitting behind a desk.

One of the goals of worldschooling is to foster a lifelong love of learning through the realization that everything around you is a learning opportunity. Afterall, if children start to learn by doing and experiencing new things, they develop an insatiable thirst for knowledge and never stop learning.

7. Worldschooling fosters independence and critical thinking

Finally, some may question whether worldschooling enables codependence — after all, you’re doing everything together. But what is commonly observed is quite the opposite. As your child starts to learn more about their context and the world they are living in, they generally become more confident and independent as an individual.

Worldschooling is an excellent stage for self-growth because your child is able to experience so many different situations in the real world. Think about everything you encounter and learn to adjust to when traveling to a new place. Worldschooling can set the framework for success in the future as children become well-versed in interacting with people of all different backgrounds and personalities from an early age.

In contrast, many parents today feel let down by traditional school systems because they don’t think they really prepared them for the real world.

I could go on and on about the many benefits of worldschooling. But in a nutshell, these are some of the most common praises of this method of education.

But don’t get me wrong, worldschooling isn’t for everyone.

“Not all classrooms have four walls.”

Sonya Chappell

The Most Common Criticisms of Worldschooling

Obviously, no method of education is perfect. Look hard enough, and you’ll find a flaw. Some of the most common criticisms of this education style echo the criticisms that homeschoolers in general typically hear on any given day. Still, other criticisms are a little more difficult to surmount.

1. Worldschooling can be disruptive to a child’s education

I’ve heard this argument many a time before: children need a home base. At the core of this belief is the need for stability and belonging.

Every child is different. Some children may dislike being away from home and see it as a distraction, while others may thrive and be inspired by their new surroundings. Be sure to take everything into account when deciding whether to worldschool and for how long.

If your child is more of a “homebody”, watch for signs of exhaustion that go beyond the physical and could start to hamper your child’s ability to learn. You may just need to incorporate more daily structure into your travel so that your child knows what to expect and doesn’t feel worn down by the ever-changing scenery.

The overarching concern for stability causes some to turn away from going full gypsy and worldschooling year-round, instead choosing to embark on just one or two big trips per year. This is a great way to achieve balance in your worldschooling journey.

2. Worldschooling can be expensive

This is certainly true, but as we touched on earlier, there are some ways to be thrifty with your budget.

Watch for travel deals, be strategic and flexible with your dates, and consider alternative lodging options. Look into companies like The Vacation Exchange which helps vacationers find affordable lodging options through a “house swap” network.

For extra savings, sign up for fare alerts on sites like Kayak and Airfarewatchdog, so you are the first to know about low cost travel fares. You can even set up a search for the destinations of your choice!

Some believe that worldschooling is an extremely exclusive type of schooling — only available to that super small percentage of people who are either filthy rich or who don’t have to work a regular 9 to 5 job. Afterall, how are you going to travel the world if you are stuck behind a desk? But with remote work becoming more common, more people can travel and earn a paycheck simultaneously without skipping a beat at work.

So while it may require some saving and planning to afford your trip, it is not totally out of the question.

3. Worldschooling requires a lot of planning and organization

When you worldschool, you’re planning both a trip and a school schedule. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of places to go and people to see and lose momentum at the end of a long day when it comes to school work.

Traveling in itself requires an immense amount of coordination, so to make sure you are getting the most out of your wordschooling experience, you will want to be prepared and come up with a plan. Think ahead about what resources you’ll need, what learning opportunities you want to really hone in on with each adventure, and what you’ll supplement with if need be when it comes to core subjects like Math and Language Arts.

It’s all totally doable, but it will take some time and mental energy. And a good pot of coffee.

The good news is, even if you don’t have your lessons planned to a T for each destination, you’ll be planting a seed and sparking curiosity for the future. When your children encounter the subject again, they will be able to pull from their memory bank and put more context to their learning, having physically experienced what they are learning about.

4. Worldschooling may not prepare children for real life

Unless your child is going to be traveling all the time in their future career, worldschooling may seem both fantastic and irresponsible. Some may question how your child will ever get a job if all they’ve done is travel? How will they be able to sit in an office or go to college if they haven’t experienced structured learning?

This is a valid concern, and one that parents should take into consideration. But as we mentioned above, most people don’t worldschool year round, so they have the opportunity to balance life on the road with life at home. And even if you did worldschool through the year, most likely you’ll be supplementing with structured learning curricula in core subjects like Math and Language Arts.

“The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.“

Dr. Seuss

Hybrid Worldschooling

The best of both worlds, in my opinion, is to simply choose a curriculum that you love and leave space within your year for travel. Find a curriculum that works for your child’s unique learning style and start thinking about where you want to go.

Once you’ve charted your course, start thinking about how the places you will be visiting can play into your child’s learning for this year. Dial it back on the curriculum they’ve been doing at home and allow space to really dive into the area you are visiting. Design your own mini curriculum or search Pinterest for fun ideas. Another great resource for materials is teacherspayteachers.com, where you can find a myriad of activities, worksheets, and unit studies for thousands of topics.

After all, there are so many benefits children gain from traveling even if you don’t turn your trip it into a formal learning experience.

  1. It helps children develop new skills.
  2. It can teach children about other cultures and diversity.
  3. It can help children learn independence and self-reliance.
  4. It can help children appreciate the world around them.

So if the idea of enriching your child’s education through travel appeals to you but you don’t want to give up the stability and comfort of home, a hybrid worldschooling lifestyle may be exactly what you are looking for.

Conclusion: How to Get Started With Worldschooling

Worldschooling is a fantastic way to give your children a well-rounded education while spending quality time together as a family. Fundamentally, worldschooling turns your child into a global citizen.

However, while some school-aged children will adapt swiftly to this type of learning, others would rather be at home. Begin by taking time for smaller trips and observing the way your child reacts to traveling. Are they thriving in new environments, or only surviving? Do they ache to go on another trip as soon as you pull back in the driveway, or are they homesick by day two?

Getting a read on your family dynamics and goals is important so you can make sure you are on the same page and able to enjoy this journey together. Consider any sports your child is involved in and whether or not they can sit out for a season while you are away. What about family and friends? How long are you comfortable being away from home?

After answering these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what your worldschooling journey may look like and what you want to get out of it.

The next step is to figure out your budget and how much travel your career will allow for. What adjustments need to be made to accomodate your travel plans?

Finally, the fun part. Start looking at your bucket list, dreaming of life on the road, and figuring out where you want to go. Look on travel blogs, search for airline deals, and talk to friends. Once you’ve got some destinations in mind, research the area and figure out the main attractions you’d like to visit so you can start to map out your journey.

Remember, you don’t have to be a nomad to worldschool! You just have to travel with intention and a love of learning. The world is ready and waiting for you!

FAQs

Is worldschooling legal?

Worldschooling is just another type of homeschooling — it’s perfectly legal as long as you follow the homeschooling laws of your state. All homeschooling laws are state specific. Your state may require standardized testing, while another state may simply require that you have written curricula.

Is worldschooling the same as deschooling?

Worldschooling can be seen in the same vein as deschooling or unschooling — teaching children outside of an established rubric. But worldschooling does not have to forego established curriculum if you don’t want it to; it’s simply a type of schooling that involves world travel.

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