I never liked the labels that were applied to me when I became a stay-at-home mom and later a homeschooling mom.
They made it sound like I wanted to cut my daughter off from the world. The reality was the exact opposite.
I wanted to give the world to her. So we took advantage of everything our city had to offer—museums, story time at different libraries, different cultural enclaves, garden classes at the parks, nature walks and beach days. Not to mention ballet, West African dance and Kung Fu lessons. She was learning tons, and so was I.
Eventually, our family found ourselves at a crossroads. For years, my husband and I had toyed with the idea of leaving Chicago—even the country. Before we took the leap, we embarked on a month-long road trip through the United States. It was 30 days without a curriculum, without worksheets, without Pinterest projects. But all of us were learning so much on the road.
My daughter spent her first day of “kindergarten”in a lush mountain forest. We learned about the uses of lavender in an Oregon field full of it, and about sequoias in Redwood National Park. We drove through deserts, mountains, coasts and plains.
We wholeheartedly embraced worldschooling, and it’s how we educate our kids in Mexico today. But you don’t have to take that leap to get started.
For our family, worldschooling means that learning about different parts and peoples of the world is at the center of the educational process. It’s looking at the world through a wide-eyed, curious and empathetic lens. Experiencing the world becomes the curriculum. We pay special attention to world history, geography, foreign languages, and—most importantly, in my view—cultural intelligence, the ability to move and flow between different cultures.
Ideally, worldschooling takes place while actually exploring—through vacations, slow travel (visiting a location for weeks or months) or relocation. But just being in a foreign country doesn’t make you a worldschooler. I’ve met families who don’t allow their kids to experience all that their new surroundings have to offer them. And just because a family isn’t currently traveling doesn’t mean they can’t be worldschoolers.
So how does one start worldschooling at at home? Here are a few tips.
Explore Where You Are
No matter where you are right now—in a suburb, a city, your tiny hometown—you are in the world! And that place is worth delving into. Visit your area’s museums, parks, and festivals. Check out a neighborhood you’ve never visited before. Try out a restaurant you’ve always overlooked. You may be surprised at what you find.
Cultivate a Love of Travel
You don’t have to leave the country—or even the county—to get into travel. As a family, make a bucket list of cool places you’d like to see nearby, and learn all you can about them. Make plans for day or weekend trips and have a blast. Watch travel shows together and follow the adventures of traveling families on social media. What can you learn about new places from a distance?
Model Love of Different Peoples
Being a good global citizen isn’t just about appreciating places. In your everyday lives, befriend people who are culturally and ethnically different from you. Begin as a family to engage in anti-racist education. Introduce your children to diverse books, movies and shows. Make it part of your life.
Learn a Language Together
Is there a country that fascinates your kids or a destination your family is interested in visiting one day? Do you have a favorite cuisine or music from another part of the world that you love jamming to? You could even use language to connect with your family’s heritage. Pick a tongue that is widespread, or one that’s obscure. Whatever the reason, start learning a new language. Bonus: It’s good for their brains, and for yours.
Plan for Travel
Make travel a family goal, whether that’s a domestic trip, an international vacation, or completely relocating. Get everyone involved. Research how to get or renew a passport. Create a vision board. Dream out loud together of where you’ll visit. Not only will kids learn through the process of planning, but research has shown that planning travel can make you happier!