Worldschool 101

The moment I first heard the word worldschool, I fell in love with the concept. If you aren’t familiar with the phrase yet, just wait. A quick search produced tons of information calling worldschooling the “hot new buzz word” and “a trend rapidly catching on.” Essentially, it’s learning from the world. Sounds pretty great, right?

But how do you go from a conventional classroom setting to the worldschool concept? And does it work?

These questions- along with about a million more- are ones I get all the time. I’m hoping through this post to answer a lot of those questions and also encourage others who may be interested. In full disclosure, I will say that we’ve only been doing this a year. And though at times I had my doubts, everyone in the family managed to survive the year!

First, let me to set the stage for where we’ve been and how we got where we are now. In true nomadic fashion, we’ve moved all over the country with our kids. Actually it isn’t quite as quaint as it sounds- we were following my husband’s career. Due to different circumstances in each city, we tried a variety of different schooling options for our daughter. In fact, over the years- I think we’ve tried them all (private, public, homeschool.)

Two years ago our family got the opportunity to go on an extended trip. Unfortunately, the opportunity didn’t fall during a school break so we faced the decision to take Mary Grace out of school for 10 days. After meeting with her teacher we felt confident in pulling her out of school for the duration of our trip. The teacher was even gracious enough to provide all the assignments ahead of time. So with that, we set off on our travels.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was a trial run of our future! Almost every morning of the trip we spent an hour or two working on school assignments.

Hotel room desks make GREAT worldschool workspaces!

The return from our trip would probably be the end of the story, except for a nasty case of strep throat that struck a week later. Mary Grace ended up missing 2 more days of school (complete with a high fever, antibiotic and doctor’s note!) Very quickly we found ourselves in hot water over Mary Grace’s attendance record. Not only did we spend the year praying against sickness- we also turned down 2 more travel opportunities.

As I turned down the second opportunity I remember telling my husband that the situation was CRAZY. I’ve truly never felt that travel compromised my children’s education. In fact, if anything- it enhanced it. We realized we really only had two options: either to stop traveling or find an alternative education. And so, that day we began to pray about making some school changes.

After extensive research, we opted for a worldschool approach using the structure of a university model school for guidance. What does that mean exactly?

It means Mary Grace is enrolled in a private school that meets once per week. Much like a college level course, the teachers distribute a syllabus. The students are expected to complete their lessons and assignments through independent study. In addition, we’re free to manipulate the curriculum and schedule as much as we want. In other words, when we want to travel- we can!

So that’s how we arrived where we are today. Will we do it forever? I can honestly say, I don’t know. If I had to guess, probably not. We’re taking it one year at a time (sometimes one day at a time!) When we make the decision that this isn’t the absolute best quality education for our kids- then we’ll do something different.

As I mentioned at the beginning, we get A LOT of questions. Although the concept of an unconventional education is becoming less rare, it certainly isn’t mainstream. Here is just a sample of questions I’m asked frequently, and my very transparent answers:

  • Do your kids like worldschool or do they miss being in “real” school? For this answer I went straight to my 10 year old daughter. Here is her response: “I love worldschool because I get to travel a lot and spend so much time with my family. I like learning in new places and seeing things that most kids have only read about. I really like being able to work at my own pace. So like, when I’m done with my work, I’m done.”
    I had to prompt her on the second part of the question because she forgot, and here’s how she answered: “oh. no, not at all. I mean, I miss seeing some of my friends every day. But it’s not like we were always in the same class anyway, so we didn’t even have that much time to talk. Plus, I can always just have them over for a play date and that’s even better than seeing them at school.”
  • Are you worried your kids will be anti-social or weird? Well, first of all- my kids were weird before we started worldschool. (Just kidding…sort of!) But in all seriousness, NO. If anything, my kids have time to be MORE social. As Mary Grace mentioned, we work at our own pace. Completing work efficiently allows us so much extra time in our schedule. We’re involved in sports activities, active in our church, always playing with neighborhood kids, having playdates, etc. Not to mention, when we travel we interact with TONS of different people!
  • What does a typical day look like? There truly is no typical day. However, I will say I strive to maintain a work then play schedule which means we spend most mornings completing studies and most afternoons doing everything I mentioned in the previous question.
Most days don’t exactly look like this, but when it’s a gorgeous day in February…why not?
  • Are they learning enough? Yes. I’d actually argue that they are learning WAY more than in a traditional school setting right now. Mary Grace completes a pretty standard grade-level curriculum. Being part of the university model school helps keep me accountable. And we are required to take a proctored state exam at the end of every year. Additionally, they are learning through our travels. Worldschool means we go to museums and historical sites. We don’t just study a map to learn locations- we visit them!
  • Can anyone worldschool?  Yes. Trust me, if I can do it- anyone can! We are so far from being that stereotypical family with the patience of a saint and that makes their own clothes! Most days are wild with just a smidgen organization.
We just started studying the presidents in our curriculum. I love that when we got to Jefferson my kids instantly remembered everything about their visit to Monticello!

When we first started a year ago, worldschool was just a way to continue my children’s education and travel. However, I’ve grown pretty passionate about this learning style. I hope this post gives you a glimpse into our lifestyle and even encourages others to give it a try!

Check out some of my other posts about the benefits of traveling with kids:

 5 Reasons To Travel WIth Your Baby

Want To Improve Your Health: Travel

Best Trips For Young Kids

Does worldschool interest you? Why or why not?

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