Family World Trip And Schooling



We have started detailed planning for our family’s around the world trip. Since we’ll be taking CAM and BigB out of school for this trip, the decisions about how to manage schooling on the road are the first and most important part of our pre-trip planning. I hope the sections below are helpful for anyone considering a similar endeavor.

How Is Your Child Doing At School Now?
The fact the both our children are doing very well in school is one of the reasons why we are even considering taking this trip. They are avid readers, very capable in math and fascinated by the sciences – but neither of them likes to write. BigB can take disruptions in his school schedule in his stride and rarely struggles to get back into the routine of school after traveling. On the other hand, this has always been an issue for CAM.

Initially, my husband was willing to take a year out completely and not even attempt to follow any school curriculum during our around the world trip. I was prepared to research what was required for “the basics”, reading, writing and math and to try to keep up a routine of grade-level work with each of the boys. We went back and forth a bit and eventually decided that with my plan, our year could easily degrade into daily or weekly arguments between our children and me over homework. We decided to take a year out and avoid homework battles. With our decision made, we sat down to talk to our children.

Involve Your Children In Your Decision
This is very appropriate for us with a nine-year-old and a 13-year-old and you might think that this is a step you could skip with younger children, but I caution against doing so. Due to family commitments, our children have regularly missed two or three weeks of school during the academic year almost every year since they each started school. Even when CAM was a Kindergartener, involving him in the discussion with his teacher about his assigned work for the trip we took that year was beneficial in that he was then more willing to do the actual work.

A few months ago, we brought up the subject of schooling during our family world trip with the boys. We explained that we’d considered the options and had decided that the easiest path was for them to re-enter school in September 2011 at 5th and 9th grade respectively. Their reaction was truly surprising: they howled, shocked to the core that they’d be with “they little kids” (one grade level below, seriously?). It turned out that maintaining grade level so that they could re-start school with their existing peers was critically important to them. We explained that this would mean that they would have to commit to doing schoolwork on the road and accept that Mom and Dad would have to be ‘like teachers’ some of the time. We’re each not done with absorbing the practical implications of this decision and I’m still nervous about the potential for disagreements over schoolwork souring our trip. That said, at last review, Dad will be ‘Mr.Math And Science’, Mom will be ‘Ms. Yucky, Language Arts’ and reading will be a given for everyone.

Research Grade-Level Standards For Your School System
In order to keep our children at grade level while we’re traveling, we need to know what those standards are in advance. We’re lucky, because in Washington state, the Curriculum, Learning Standards and reviews of teaching materials are all online. We’re currently investigating how to implement this, whether to bundle the chapters of each book into monthly chunks and have someone mail them to us as we need them or whether to use digital copies of all the books. We’ll probably go with the latter where possible. I experimented with this in my recent trip to Australia with the kids. BigB initially balked at reading his school-books on the computer and doing his homework using Notepad, but was suitably digitally adjusted by the time we were on our way home. When we were waiting for our last flight in LAX, the sight of him working away on a netbook earned him many approving glances from the people sitting around us (you only had to listen for 5 minutes to know he was working on homework – the netbook did not remove the need for incessant “Mom, can you help?” questions).

Involve Your Child’s Current School
In December we met with principals of both our children’s schools and discussed our plans with them. Their enthusiastic responses and offers to support us in putting together a year’s worth of work for our boys is encouraging for us personally and it is very helpful in the organization of our trip. Both principals were voluble in their approval of our world trip as a worthwhile, hands-on learning experience for our children. Both of them asked if they could come along too :)


Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
This entry was posted in RTW and tagged , , on by .

About wandermom

". . .life is short and the world is wide" - Simon Raven I'm not sure I've ever consciously planned a trip based on this sentiment, but it definitely influences my subconscious! I've been traveling as frequently and widely as possible since I finished school. And I love it. I love the research, the planning, the fervent packing and the curiosity of exploring somewhere I've never been before. My husband & I are both Irish - as in born-in-Ireland. But we live in Seattle. We have two boys: wild, boisterous, regular boys. So, since becoming a Mom, I've been a WanderMom. Given our slightly-unusual family situation, routine "visits-to-Grandma" are international trips requiring passports, 10hr-flights and (oh joy!) airport transfers. I have rants, raves and opinions about how, where & why to travel with kids (start them as young as you can, I say!). I hope to learn even more by researching topics which other wandermoms may be interested in reading about on this blog. Passports, pacifiers, diapers and gameboys at the ready - off we go! Contact Info: Email Michelle: michelle (at) murphnduff (dot) org

13 thoughts on “Family World Trip And Schooling

  1. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  2. Amy @ The Q Family

    This is a great post and very informative. It’s a good tip to involve your kids in the process. No matter how young, I believe kids like to know what’s going on and want to be treated like adult with their inputs. Good luck and I’m looking forward to hearing more about your trip planning.

  3. Deb

    Wow, I can’t wait to hear about your trip! Good luck with all the planning and please do share how it goes.

  4. jessiev

    i am so excited for your trip!! !YAHOO!!

    there’s another alternative to regular homeschooling – it’s called unschooling – we do it! whatever your kids show interest in, you pack it in. for instance, our 7 yo daughter LOVES ancient egypt. so far, we’ve studied together: history, sociology, archaeology, language, math, architecture, weather, geology, geography, anthropology, wars and strategies, gender issues, culture, modern times vs. ancient, reading, movie-making, art, heiroglyphics, animals, food, social stratification, urban planning, and more. you can bet that she knows more about this than most kids double her age.

    this is an exciting opportunity for your kids to SHOW YOU what they want to learn. this can include trip planning, gps, history, research methods, culture, geography, money (budgeting, finding places to stay, etc.)… and it isn’t homework. it’s LIFE!!

    i recommend two things for you to delve into:

    maya frost’s book, the new global student – INSPIRING!!

    and eli gerzon’s website, about worldschooling – here’s a post:

    i am so excited for your family!! we’re working toward this and can’t WAIT. it’s a bit more difficult for me because of my mobility disabilities, so we have to find places that are accessible. not easy.


  5. Debbie Ferm

    How wonderful for all of you! I just found your site and am very excited to hear of your plans.

    I’m a middle school teacher and I am in full support of this type of thing. Your kids will learn puh-lenty this year. Try not to stress too much about it. If they are avid readers, they will learn every they need to. That unschooling example above is a great idea.

    I look forward to reading of your adventures!

    Debbie Ferm

  6. GotPassport

    Very exciting news. Wish you the best and look forward to reading more about your journey! We had pondered on the idea of road-schooling and decided for now we will relocate to Thailand and place her in an international school. We may revisit this later after Thailand.

    Going to take a look at Eli Gerzon’s site now! :-)

  7. DavidK

    Great idea and am sure this will be great blog (book?) material to share.

    Have you considered partnering with teachers at your school on particular projects/topics to keep your boys connected with peers and share the experience back with the school and classmates? For example, your family could participate with (previously mentioned) Egyptian history if your stop coincides with that year’s history program. You could also physically connect with the class back home like unique foods (Durian candy, for example), sand from the pyramids, water from the dead sea that could be analyzed for salt content, etc.

    It might seem like a lot to coordinate so maybe keep it simple – like 4 combined projects/topics throughout the year – but would be a great way to get the support of teachers when resuming the following year and also keep your kids socially connected to their peers.

  8. Lorraine

    Wow. I’m inspired by these bold moves for your family, for travel, and for a truly well-rounded educational experience. This is going to be one awesome story to read. Thanks for all of the practial updates for folks who may be considering alternative routes.

  9. Amie from Ciao Bambino

    Wow, what a trip and inspiring way to handle the school challenge. Absolutely is the trip an incredible learning opportunity. Maybe we’ll try and meet you somewhere along the way :) – trying to figure our an international plan of our own for 2010 too.

  10. Pingback: Family Travel: 10 Great Blog Posts On Traveling With Children | My Little Nomads

  11. Pingback: Mondays are for dreaming: A trip to the other side of the world | Mother of all Trips

  12. Rachelle

    Hi, I realized I do have your book and have read it cover to cover :) I enjoyed your comments about schooling above, thank you. We are a family of four headed out in late Oct for a 6 month travel trip and have been trying to figure out what we wanted to do ( we had a plan at the beginning of the summer(keeping the kids going with their school via skype,email and their own blog but are now thinking of changing it). Now we are considering the home school option so we can incorporate where we are traveling with our studies (this year for 5th grade in WA is US history). However I am now scrambling to figure out a curriculum for them so late in our planning process! Any words of advice would be fantastic.
    Have a wonderful trip and I am sure we’ll be following whatever you write.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *