A homeschooling option that is becoming much more popular in the age of the digital nomad is Worldschooling. Before we had the ability to work just about anywhere through the magic of the World Wide Web, only the very wealthy families or children who grew up with a military parent had the option of learning while travelling the world.
These days, that’s changed, and more and more parents are taking advantage of this to the benefit and utter delight of their kids. So, what exactly is Worldschooling and how does it play out in real life?
Let’s take a look at closer look at what Worldschooling is, how it is done, the pros and cons, and how to get started. There’s a whole wide world out there and hungry young minds are ready to eat it up and learn lessons that will last a lifetime!
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Turning Travel Into an Educational Experience
At it’s most basic, Worldschooling is turning travel into education and helping to instill a worldly mindview in kids – something most of us had to wait for until our 20’s, 30’s, or even our 40’s! It can be as simple as a trip once a year to a foreign country or if you are a digital nomad with the ability to work from anywhere online, it can be immersion learning for the space of a Visa for months or years at a time!
There are all kinds of things that you study while you are abroad and for kids this can be almost a fairytale existence. For instance, the castle that inspired Disney is Neuschwannstein, located in Bavaria Germany, and just 2.5 hours away you can visit Salzburg – the birthplace of Mozart!
It’s not just about places, of course. Kids can learn local languages, foods, and art. If you are in an area where kids the same age as yours are learning more advanced Mathematics, you can incorporate this into their homeschooling curriculum. You can also teach them about local economics and fun subjects like local flora and fauna – the possibilities are really only limited by your imagination, but there is never a shortage of new things to learn.
Even if you are taking one trip a year, a part of Worldschooling is also the preparation. Perhaps your children will learn a little bit of French in advance and get an early taste of the foods as you learn to cook some foreign cuisines together, perfecting those same recipes when you get to make them locally!
It instills an interest in your kids in learning from the world and expands their view and their minds in the process. Worldschooling also teaches a simple, useful lesson that basically boils down to ‘How many things can I learn while I am here?’, and that’s a lesson that can take you very far in life, indeed!
What Are Some Example Topics?
With the rich history and culture that the world has to offer, there is not shortage of fun topics for you and your children to explore. We’ll give you a few examples just to get your creative juices flowing with all of the possibilities:
- Travel to Southeast Asia and meet the Bajau, a tribe that has adapted to hold their breath for over 5 minutes underwater and to deep dive without equipment as a result of their seafaring society.
- Visit Fez in Morocco and see how leather is traditionally treated and made into clothing. You can also see traditional olive pressing, done with a stone wheel and a carrot-driven donkey.
- See what life is like in a city with canals in lovely Venice, Italy. While you’re there, visit Murano – the Isle of glass – where glassblowing demonstrations occur every day.
- The Renaissance began in Florence, so what better place to start a study of this amazing art movement?
- One of the first things you notice in Denmark is that everyone has a bicycle and a cultural home standard of comfort called Hygge. What other quirks and perks do they have that you and your kids can take home with you?
These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. Kids can pick up on art, architecture, linguistic concepts that don’t translate well into English, and they’ll soak all of it up like a sponge. Whether you do it via immersion-style learning to go with their lessons as a digital nomad or as a rewarding, but educational experience once or twice a year, it’s an invaluable experience that is only going to enhance your child’s learning experience and their budding life-philosophies in the bargain!
How Do My Kids Keep Up With Exams if We’re Worldschooling Full-Time?
For your older kids that need to keep up with their exam standards, IGCSE – short for International General Certificate of Secondary Education – are internationally recognized and may be taken in over 140 countries around the world!
This means that your kids can sit these exams at centers which are available at your various destinations and it also helps you to shape more of an international curriculum if you will be travelling full-time.
Can You Do Worldschooling Without Actual Travel?
Worldschooling is essentially ‘learning from the world around you’, but with the internet there are certainly some options that you can explore in a limited capacity. Examples include virtual tours of various museums, learning to cook foreign foods and to speak a little of various languages, but really your best bet is to start saving so that your children can experience this firsthand.
Also, don’t forget that you don’t always have to travel very far right away. For instance, Americans are often mocked for their grasp on their own country’s geography, so starting off with trips to various states can teach kids what products are produced there and how they are obtained as well as aspects of American history that are often overlooked in the textbooks. From there, maybe plan a trip to Mexico, Canada, or a little further to Costa Rica.
A lot of people who are interested in Worldschooling are worried about the costs and this is understandable, but there are bargains all of the time. For instance, sometimes you can find trips from New York to London for around $150 and once you are overseas, it gets even cheaper – Ryanair, for instance, sometimes offers a trip from London to Ireland that costs around 20$.
So, while you can certainly glean a bit of culture from the internet, Worldschooling is really something that you want to do in-person – cultures can be studied from afar, actual immersion in them is literally a whole different world.
What Are the Benefits of Worldschooling?
Worldschooling really has a lot to offer – after all, there is only so much that you can learn about a thing by simply reading about it. If you didn’t start travelling until later than life, some of the cultural contrasts probably had an enormous impact on you at the time. Just imagine how profound it would have been if you were even younger!
A quick breakdown of the benefits looks a little something like this:
- Immersion learning is natural learning – more effective and impactful than sentences read in a book or even the most well-choreographed videos
- Faster absorption of knowledge because it’s fun and more interesting — because it’s all new and all around you
- Languages are learned more quickly with constant, daily use
- It’s a bonding experience for the family and create a lifetime of fond memories
- You can even learn about your own country by seeing it through the eyes of others
- Kids can learn invaluable lessons about the importance of budgeting by living on a local budget – sometimes kids don’t realize how good they have it and seeing how the rest of the world lives can really drive that lesson home!
- An expanded view of life that can only come by tasting the different flavors in each place that you go
These are just a few examples of the perks – it’s really hard to quantify what an expanded worldview and education provides, but this should give you a few ideas of the kind of foundation that Worldschooling can provide.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any caveats, of course, so let’s take a look at those next.
Are There Any Downsides to Worldschooling?
Nothing in life is completely perfect in every way, so to be fair we should look at some of the downsides of Worldschooling that you’ll need to consider before you commit. Here are some potential pitfalls of taking the Worldschooling approach:
- With full-time Worldschooling, kids become more adaptable and Worldy, but they can lose out on local long-term friendships that we take for granted in a more ‘stationary’ existence. They can still keep up with friends via videochats and even old-fashioned penpal scenarios– but Worldschooling definitely present some social challenges that you’ll need to consider.
- You’ll need to save up for those trips and preferably be able to do your work online in order to access the outside world in the first place. There are a LOT of locations that you can go to that are quite cheap from a cost of living perspective – many locations in Asia, for instance, and Eastern Europe – but careful planning and budgeting will be a MUST.
- Not all kids are guaranteed to like minimalist living and constant moving — so there’s no guarantee they’ll appreciate the lessons, which you won’t know until you start them.
- It’s not easy – there are local pitfalls that you simply don’t find at home. While this will teach you and your kids some impressive and amazing critical thinking, you might be surprised what you CAN’T find in other countries that you take for commonplace at home, and also what you CAN find that you might not have expected.
It’s all part of that eternal lesson that life is different and challenging in different ways, especially when you get out of your familiar element. Worldschooling may not be a perfect fit for everyone and it’s challenging to say the least – but for aficionados of this homeschooling extreme lifestyle, the benefits definitely outweigh the caveats. There are lessons out there that you simply can’t learn any other way and this takes homeschooling to levels that are hard to even imagine!
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started with Worldschooling is going to require a bit of planning, so you’ll want to break things down into easily-digestible goals so that you’ll have the means to make it happen and a good plan in place to work with. To this effect, we’ve got some basics in the next sections to help you to make this happen.
Budgeting Is the Key to Success
Your first consideration will be your budget. The easiest way to build up your cash for your Worldschooling budget will be to set up a direct deposit, so that a percentage of your current income is automatically going into a separate account to fund your travel expenses. This will be ideal if you are looking to make one or more small trips every year, while for digital Nomads it lets you build up capital for your moving expenses once you’ve decided on your first destination.
Think About Where You Will Live While Abroad
You’ll need to decide on destinations and to research the cost of living that you can expect while you are there. Thankfully, this is the age of the internet, so you can look up blogs form digital nomads and other Worldschoolers who are already abroad.
We recommend checking local apartment listings on the net and to keep in mind that sometimes a nearby city will be considerably lower-cost for living in, but still put you just a quick bus ride away from some of the sites that you would like to explore. In some cases, this can get you a good-sized apartment for $200-300 per month and you might find that Worldschooling is significantly cheaper than even doing it at home!
So don’t skip out on your homework – you can literally saves thousands of dollars and this opens up Worldschooling options in some of the more premium locations that you might have thought were inaccessible.
Consider What Educational Materials You’ll Need to Bring
You’ll want to bring your current homeschool curriculum items and if the luggage costs are prohibitive, then look into shipping options so that you can just mail the materials to your new location. A great way to do this is to contact a local hostel in advance and book a couple of nights, so that they will be expecting the materials to arrive and can hold them for you until you get there.
This little trick is great if you have a lot of curriculum material that you need to get to your destination, but you should make sure that you give it plenty of time to arrive if you do this – post isn’t always as reliable in some countries, so a little research will be important before you do this.
Finally, don’t forget that you can get a few cheap eBook readers and load up all your educational materials on those. Any travel addict will tell you, eBook readers are an absolute MUST unless you want to spend a lot of time lugging those books around!
Start a Useful Curriculum to Prepare for New Place in Advance
Before every trip, you should take advantage of the opportunity to expand your children’s curriculum a little based on where you will be going. Some language phrasebooks are a good start and you can find a lot of video tutorials for just about any language for free on YouTube. Assigning some homework about flora and fauna in the area where you will be visiting is also a good idea, as well as what sorts of foods to expect and to look for when you arrive.
Preparing is part of the experience and you can get the kids to help by simply asking what kind of things they might like to learn there. Best of all, the anticipation of eventually arriving in the new country is an excellent motivation to learn and be ready so you’ll be reaping the benefits of Worldschooling well before you even step on the plane.
Some Closing Words on Worldschooling
Today we’ve take a closer look at Worldschooling and while it’s a lot to digest, it’s clearly a homeschooling option with almost unlimited potential. Most of us never get to travel until we are older and by giving kids the chance to see and to even LIVE life in a different country, with a new culture, is definitely an opportunity to learn lessons that will last a lifetime.
Whether you will be doing it full-time as a digital nomad family or planning 1 or 2 trips a year, this is something that you can do to stimulate your child’s curiosity about the world outside and to get a new perspective on the world that they currently live in.
It also doesn’t hurt that this is one homeschooling option that the kids won’t be so grouchy about!
Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about worldschooling:
What Are the Best Worldschooling Locations?
One of the best things about Worldschooling is that you can learn so much, just about anywhere! It’s all going to depend on how much you’ve saved for your budget and for the places that you choose to go. For instance, Paris is wonderful, but you can also see beaches with pink flamingos in southern France and show the kids how wine is made.
In Barcelona, Gaudi’s cathedrals makes for excellent architectural studies, but on a budget you could also go to Romania and see some amazing wooden churches there at a fraction of the cost (not to mention a trip to Dracula’s castle for one very special and educational Halloween).
It’s something that you’ll want to plan in advance but the best way to decide where to go is to check the cost of living in your target location and search out local apartment listings in advance – you can save a bundle on hotels and put that money into learning as much about the local culture as you can!
What’s the Best Age to Start With Worldschooling?
The age to start is up to you, really. While most kids who are younger than 10 won’t remember much of their travels, they are still developing their personalities and introducing a wider view of the world, including local stories, art, and architecture, is always going to have an impact on the mind.
So, if your children are younger than 10, while they might not remember all of the places you’ve visiting, they’re still going to remember some of the things that you’ve read to them, color combinations and art styles, and even local animals that you just don’t see at home. Don’t forget local kids shows, either – you’ll be surprised at what your kids will pick up!
For older kids, memories are going to be more reliable, and they’re also going to pick up very quickly on linguistics, foods, and inspiring local architecture. So, whatever age you decide is good for them to start will be fine – it’s not just a matter of how many international cultural facts they can memorize and recite by rote. It’s also about elements of the cultures that they can adopt into their budding worldview, so Worldschooling is really beneficial at any age.
Do Worldschooled Children Have an Edge in Exams From the Experience?
Sometimes they do – it’s going to depend on the curriculum that you’ve laid out for them to pursue. For instance, in many European countries advanced math is taught earlier and just about everyone speaks and extra 1 or 2 languages. A lot will depend on how long you can stay, what you take from the experience, and what you BUILD ON and encourage once you get back home.
Are There Some Worldschooling Resources That You Can Provide?
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a few Worldschooling resources that you can start using for your own research.
Matadornetwork has provided a handy list of 8 archaeological digs that you can take part in around the world. This is an amazing opportunity for children and adults alike and well worth taking a peek at while you’re planning your own unique Worldschooling agenda.
Ryanair and Wizzair
A tip straight from seasoned travelers on our staff is that if you are going to Europe, RyanAir and Wizzair are one of the cheapest airline options around. Sometimes you can find a trip to Ireland on Ryanair for less than the cost of one pizza per passenger, and Wizzair is great for getting to places like Romania, Hungary, and Iceland. Trust us on this one – it pays to check the local airlines rather than the big booking venues. This little tip will save you a small fortune and you can look at rates well in advance and compare – you’ll be amazed at the difference.
Anahate Worldschooling Community
The Anahata Worldschooling Community is a Worldschooling community based in Mexico, where families from all over the world can meet and stay for a month or more in a local village, experiencing the culture and connecting with other like-minded families.