Tsh’s worldschool day in the life (with a 4-, 7-, and 9-year-old)

planeschoolpicmo
Written by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

Right now, I’m at a cafe with my almost ten-year-old, where she’s writing a blog post as her next writing project (topic: things for kids to do in Queensland, Australia). I’ve been furiously working on finishing my e-course while we have decent Internet, before we head to our next location: Sri Lanka.

There’s a certain irony to me contributing a post to Simple Homeschool’s day in the life series, because since we left the States on September 15, not one day has been the same.

We’re on a round-the-world trip that we’d planned for about five years, and at the time of this writing, we’re a few weeks shy of halfway through.

beijing family

Everything changed when we crammed our backpacks full of the gear we’d need for the next nine months, from our food to housing to day-to-day activities. (Thankfully, we didn’t need to adjust to schooling as a way of everyday, all day family life. We were already used to that.)

homeschoolday

What has thrown me for a loop, however, is my need to adjust my expectations. My dear friend worldschooled and traveled with her family not too long ago, and she warned me that even though our kids will learn more than they ever could in a classroom setting, there will be days (weeks, months) when it won’t feel like it.

We’ve got a few bits of curriculum with us, but we’ll go weeks without cracking it. There are many days when we have to account for long travel and jet lag adjustment. And a regular morning routine? Forget about it. I really don’t even know how to write about “day in the life” for this year.

Kids getting ready for a hike in New Zealand
Kids getting ready for a hike in New Zealand

But learning? You bet.

Our field trips have included, but aren’t limited to:

The Great Wall of China, ancient Asian palaces and parks, Terra Cotta Warrriors, the karst mountains of Yangshuo, elephant reserves, local cooking classes, hiking the Southern Alps of New Zealand, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, hiking the oldest rainforest in the world, learning how to throw boomerangs and play a digeridoo from an Aborigine, holding a koala and feeding a kangaroo, and taking a ferry ride around the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge (all those in Australia, obviously).

train
Riding a World War II-era train through the Australian rainforest

terracotta
Checking out the Terracotta Warriors

elephant bathing
Bathing elephants in Thailand

loy krathong
A young monk helping our guy light his lantern for Loy Krathong

Seeing as we’re not quite halfway through, I can’t even imagine what else we’ll add (Victoria Falls, a safari in Kenya, the ancient Moroccan city of Fez, Cappadoccia in Turkey, and Beirut, Lebanon, are all on the horizon. And then there’s Europe next.)

This doesn’t include everyday markets galore, local cafes and pubs, daily life in the world’s megacities, enduring long drives in the middle of nowhere (squashed up sweatily next to your brother and sister!), handling metro and bus systems, currency conversions, airport layovers, cooking with new ingredients, and language barriers.

Having to pack up again and again while keeping up with your stuff, and I’d say we’ve got “life skills” checked.

science
A spur-of-the-moment science experiment when a lantern landed in our front yard

old lady in china
“Meeting” the neighbors in China

australian rainforest
Learning culture and the natural world from an Aborigine

So yeah… they’re learning. I just have to remind myself.

The closest thing to a “day in the life”

When we are in one place for more than a week at a time (our preference), we’ll spread out and open our backpacks a bit to dig in to our books. Our priorities are our field trips and adventures, obviously, but this sort of learning fits in to our nooks and crannies:

• Our oldest, turning 10 in a few weeks, journals our outings and adventures, doubling as both writing practice and creating the perfect souvenir for our trip. She also writes down Bible verses from our family devotional time, jots down new-to-her spelling words from books she reads, and publishes occasional blog posts.

• Our middle, age 7, practices his handwriting with his workbook and with his spelling lists, and also works on his articulation—this is one of the few “schooly” things we’re intentionally doing as daily as possible because he has a fine motor and speech delay.

Both kids are also working their way (albeit slowly) through their math that we have on the iPad, and they also keep track of their allowance on a spreadsheet with the different currencies and their value converted to U.S. dollars.

• Our youngest, age 4.5, mostly plays, but since he loves “doing” school with his older siblings, he’ll practice his letters when the workbooks are pulled out.

• His brother and sister also enjoy helping him with counting and sorting (coins! rocks! steps on the Great Wall! whatever we find!).

We also listen to Story of the World as a family from our iPad (doing our best to listen to the ones pertinent to where we are), and we reference our travel map near-daily and talk about our locale’s language, politics, food, animal and plant life, geography and culture.

• The older two read a ton on their Kindles, which are gloriously connected to our local public library back home.

• We continue our family read-alouds via Kindle as well, and take advantage of any picture books that might be near us (we’ve stayed in guest houses with libraries, and a few rental houses have had kiddo books).

And just like in real life, the kids play, play, play.

grammar at juniper tree
Study time in a Thai guest house equipped with a library

writing in beijing
Writing in a restaurant in Beijing

finn in beijing
Goofing around at China’s Temple of Heaven

kids snorkeling
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef

All this happens all throughout our days—there is no routine right now. There is no typical “day in the life” for us (and I do look forward to when we return to such, eventually).

The kids write on planes, when we have a low-key day of vegging in a guest house, from beds before drifting off to sleep. Math happens when the iPad is charged and we have space and time to concentrate. And reading? Reading happens everywhere: on windy-road drives, while waiting for food at cafes, at bus and metro stops, and from airplane seats, beds and park benches worldwide.

Other than this? We don’t do that much. 😉

school year
our “first day of school” photos at the Great Wall of China

Writing this has encouraged me that even though it doesn’t feel like we’re “doing” much school, they really are learning. I have a feeling we’ll feel the aftereffects of this special year for years to come. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for this season.

Have you ever found yourself homeschooling far away from home?

About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of The Art of Simple and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and she believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Comments

  1. That is so cool. Enjoy your adventure. The only time we have had to school away from home for an extended period of time was the 6 days we had no power. We drove nearly 3 hrs to my parents’ home and lived there for 5 days. We are pretty relaxed homeschoolers but I was still worried about the level of academics we could achieve. Then 8, she wrote many stories, read lots of books, drew multiple pictures, cooked alongside Granny, asked many questions about electricity, learned about our family history and entertained her 4 year old sister. I would say a lot of learning was accomplished. Safe Travels!

  2. This is great! World adventures are great learning opportunities for everyone!

  3. I love following Tsh’s adventure on Instagram!! What an amazing trip. I’m so glad she shared thoughts on her journey here 🙂
    Katie | The Surly Housewife’s latest post: Weekly Wrap-Up: A Week of Outings

  4. This is thrilling. While I homeschooled my three while living in India for three years (including an extended stay in Thailand) we had a routine because we had an apartment. Still, it was challenging. Now that we’re back in the States for a season, I look on those times with incredible fondness, and so do my kids. It’s an education like no other! Happy travels.
    Hannah’s latest post: How January’s Going (Setting and Meeting Goals One Month At a Time)

  5. Tsh’s world school sounds amazing, and her family is having life experiance opportunities they would never get in a classeoom. Such a wonderful educational gift for her children, and an inspiration to those of us planning to one day be there too.

  6. I’ve been following your adventures. This post actually made me realize that I could do a lot of this in our area. We obviously don’t have the Great Wall of China or new currencies and cities to explore, but I have gotten lazy about field trips and learning outside the house. I love the idea of working in a cafe with my 11 year old next to me, working on the book she’s writing. Thank you for sharing!
    Angela Mills’s latest post: Goals and Rewarding Myself {52 Changes}

  7. Yes, indeed. Your children are getting an incredible education! I wish every child had the types of world experiences that your children are getting. I loved seeing the pictures of your travels and all the many ways your children. What a perfect curriculum!
    Nancy Taylor’s latest post: Creating A Multiple Intelligences Lesson Plan

  8. I love following the adventures you and your family are having, Tsh! Every time I read about how your kids are doing and what amazing things they are learning through experiencing the world around them, it makes me less and less worried about the adventure we have planned in the next few years–sailing for part of the year–and how we’re going to “do school.” Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. This is the BEST. I’m ALL for learning like this for always. So so so so cool!
    Marla Taviano’s latest post: walk humbly

  10. I LOVE hearing about your trip. I think you are schooling everyday. (Of course, I think we all are-homeschool families and traditional school families). However, traveling and experiencing other cultures is amazing and something that most people never get to do. Your kids are fortunate to have parents who see travel as an important aspect to life. Have fun. Enjoy your family.. Forget school. (But keep writing so that we can keep living vicariously through you!). 🙂
    Sharon’s latest post: 2015 Goals

  11. That is pretty amazing! I would love to have my boys see those great places instead of just reading about them! Thanks for sharing!
    danielle’s latest post: A Death Star, a Fireman Pole, and a 7yr old!

  12. What an incredible experience, to give your children the gift of the world. Literally! And you’ve gotta love e-readers. Our Nooks and Kindles are our best friends while we’re living abroad.
    Camie’s latest post: Hobbit Riddles

  13. So fun to read Tsh’s story here, as her blog is what originally led me to Simple Homeschool. My family is on the road this week and as I pulled out myriad suitcases out of the trunk yesterday for our current stop I thought of Tsh and her Hermonie-like purse that contains half her belongings and felt a deep pang of shame at our packing abilities
    Jess Townes’s latest post: The Deal of the Year for Book Lovers (& a Giveaway!)

  14. How I wish to have been a child educated that way… Amazing! My wheels are turning for my own children. My children attend public school , but we homeschool in the summer to add things I believe current curriculum doesn’t offer or emphasize (social studies)…time to broaden some horizons!
    Stacy@awellstockedlife.com‘s latest post: Simple Parenting: 6 Tips on Finding Imagination and Play

  15. Amazing. Seriously- what an absolutely amazing gift to your children this “world schooling” is! With 8 kids and my husband’s line of work there is NO way we could do it but I think it is SO neat that you guys can! Keep sharing please 🙂

  16. This post hit right where I needed it. See, usually I feel as if our “normal” school is a worldschool as we live overseas. Right now, however, we are US schooling. So, it’s the opposite of what you are doing, we are studying the US as we travel throughout it. Many of the things you mentioned ring true for us. We brought some regular work along with us and we may or may not get to it on any given day. We’re trying to take advantage of any thing out and about as learning, the Ocean, the Painted Desert, Mountains, plains, farms, parks…the list continues!

  17. Absolutely, unbelievably, wholeheartedly amazing. Your children are extremely lucky. I can’t wait to hear more about your journey!
    Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies’s latest post: Perfectionism, Fear of Failure, and the Gifted Child

  18. Am I the only introvert reading this that thought I would die if I had to keep up that kind of pace? LOL!
    Not to take away from their great adventures, but I’m way too much of a homebody to undertake something like that. Thankfully my husband and daughter are too. 🙂
    Sallie Borrink’s latest post: Accepting Your Child for Who She Is – Guest Post at Bright Ideas Press

  19. love this post!! Since September, our family has been living at an orphanage in Mexico. I am homeschooling (world schooling) our 4 kids (ages 6-13). I so resonate with the statement that there is no normal day! Things here are in constant flux, and as our role is somewhat inclusive of “whatever needs to be done”, I can plan all I want, but things are bound to change. The first three months I was focused on getting in some basics, and the rest of the time, letting reading and playing and cultural experiences count. This semester I tried to add in more “academic subjects”, not because I felt they were not learning, but I think time at home during the holidays caused me to panic about what we were or were not covering. This post is encouraging me to remember the ways the kids are learning which are as valuable or more so, than plain old workbooks, etc. thanks:) I am going to relax a little on the days we can’t get the books in!

  20. Woah, I am in awe and completely inspired. You say you planned this adventure for 5 years. I would like to know more about how you did that and made it a reality. I would love to do this with the family. Have you written a more detailed post somewhere about how you made this happen and all the places you visited? If so, can you please provide a link?
    Jacqueline’s latest post: Junior Trout Club at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

  21. I really enjoyed reading this. We won’t learning abroad any time soon but that doesn’t mean we can’t have an adventure. I love that learning is just happening. That was easier for me to do when my kids were younger. I am very encourage by this post so thanks for sharing.

  22. I echo Jacqueline’s thoughts/questions. I’d love to read details on how you made this amazing adventure a reality! My husband travels out of state (we live in Michigan) once or twice a year wherever his business takes him, so we’ve had the opportunity to “school on the road” as we call it, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Tennessee, and all throughout our great state! I have them keep a journal, but I love the idea of my oldest blogging about our adventures! I also have the Dover States of the U.S. Coloring book, which has each state’s state symbols, and I photocopy the state page that’s relevant in our travels and they add it to their state book and we learn the state’s symbols. We read books about the state and historical places, people, and events, and of course take as many field trips as possible wherever we are! I love schooling on the road a couple times a year, and now I’m trying to picture what it would be like to do it for months at a time! Thank you for sharing your “day in the life” of world schooling!

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