What Do Kids Need To Learn, Really?
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Hot topic alert! If you are new to homeschooling or worldschooling this is the post for you! The first question parents ask me when we tell them we are Worldschooling is, “how do you make sure your kids are learning what they need to know?”
Let’s back up a second here. Check yourself and your assumptions, as well as your idea of what is imperative to “know.” Then, read my post about choosing curriculum for traveling.
Over the first few years of homeschooling, and worldschooling, my idea of what was important for my kids to know changed dramatically. You can read more about the specifics of our journey from Homeschooling to Unschooling to Worldschooling.
Here is my short list of “What My Kids Need to Know”
- How to learn something they want or need to know (e.g., proficiency in reading, writing, math, basic research, and communication skills)
- How to work through challenges
- How to balance their lives (physically, mentally, psychologically, and professionally)
- How to be a good human
Thats about it. Worldschooling for the win. Every single thing that you can imagine a child or person should learn, will fall into one of those categories. There are so many benefits of worldschooling. I strongly believe that not all children need to know calculus. I also believe that children don’t need to learn the same thing, at the same time as every other child who happens to be their age. Children should be exposed to everything, and then be allowed to learn by following their interests.
Here is a short list of “What I DO Believe”
- Every child should be provided a rich environment, which includes; lots of books and reading aloud, opportunities to learn and the opportunity to pursue or not pursue that information at that time, resources for learning, experiences that widen their world view and life skills (ahem, worldschooling).
- Every child deserves to learn in their own time and their own way. No amount of forceful education, one way flow of information, or coercion will result in a true love of learning.
- Every child WILL learn what THEY NEED for the life THEY WANT to live.
- Learning happens throughout the lifetime, not just between the ages of 2-25.
- Children of all levels can love learning if you remove your agenda allow them to. It is THEIR life, and THEIR choice how much and when they decide to learn. You can just provide the opportunities.
So, let’s go back to the BIG QUESTION.
How Do I Make Sure My Kids Are Learning What They NEED To Know while we Worldschool?
Easy. Worldschooling allows me to expose them to all the things the world has to offer. I allow them to absorb it on their own time and at their current level…or not. I provide support, suggestions, opportunities, experiences, resources and encouragement. Then I sit back and watch the magic happen. We also try to connect with Worldschooling communities throughout our travels, such as Worldschooling Hub.
A good example of Worldschooling and learning through interest, was our recent day trip to the Alliance Theater & High Museum of Art. First, we checked out library books and online readings of many of Oliver Jeffers‘ children’s books.
Then, we attended a fantastic stage rendition of The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers. Then, we went to the Oliver Jeffers exhibit at the High Museum and saw the original writings and drawings that went into creating his children’s books.
Every Worldschooling Experience is Different
Each of the kids walked away with a different experience. PinkLady was a bit tweeny that day, and a little annoyed about going to a museum. She loved the stage show, and continued to chat about how much she also loved being on stage this past summer in her Grease: The Musical camp.
While walking through the exhibit she decided she could NOT be seen with me, and asked to walk it independently. We setup a meeting spot at the end of the exhibit and off she went. I purposefully ignored her as we passed her in the space, allowing her to have her own experience, and caught her on the couches with a basket of Oliver Jeffers books, reading each one carefully.
For SportsGal, the experience was also her own. She was mesmerized by the real-life artwork and book pages. Seeing a printed book is one thing, but seeing the actual drawings and paintings that the book was printed from…wow!
During our walk through the exhibit we both noticed a few things; authors and illustrators mess up (a lot!) and that there were also dozens of renditions of the same book pages. This gave us the opportunity to talk about patience, challenges, and trying again (over and over and over again).
As we walked through, SportsGal murmured to herself, “this gives me so many ideas for my own book.”
Worldschooling Leads to Other Connections
She also asked questions about how books get published, which led to a conversation about traditional publishing houses versus self-publishing e-books. She decided she could get published at her age, why not? Once again, worldschooling for the win!
The rest of the afternoon and evening her face was stuck in her sketchbook while she created characters and story lines. Reading, writing, art and creativity, problem solving, working through challenges…check, check, and check!
What I Do To Ensure Learning
To make sure I am Worldschooling to its fullest, I put my own effort into unlearning the controlling and coercive tendencies that have been ingrained in me through traditional school. When I catch myself trying to “manage” or “control” the kids’ learning I stop, and pull back. Picking my battles, considering my “why,” and reconsidering again.
I make sure they have the chance to participate in family conversations, planning of all kinds, and age appropriate decisions.
Every time I am budgeting, planning, writing or note taking, I involve them in the process if they want to be. They have helped me write out travel budgets, add up the cost of flights or experiences, and manage funds throughout a trip. Worldschooling is the perfect setup for this, but you can also do it with home based budgets and every day planning needs.
I have allowed them to setup shop, create things, and find a way to market and sell those creations so they can work towards a personal financial goal.
We have researched countless bits of information together, in all subject areas. We read, read, read, read, and read some more. I read aloud to them every day. I allow them to solve problems on their own. And fail. And try again. Or deal with the fallout (with emotional support and subtle suggestions as well).
In the end, my kids will know what they need to know. And if they don’t…they’ll know how to go out and learn it.
Worldschooling Experiences Lead to Learning
I am confident that if you are the type of family who engages in worldschooling, or who travels often, then you can ensure your child will learn on the go. Every rich experience is a notch in the belt of learning and brain development. Every experience will help shape your child.
Be sure you step back and watch the learning and growth happen. Allow your child to be independent as much as possible.
Worldschooling leads to communicating with other humans, from all walks of life, which is essential in growing learning and life skills.
Problem solving in a challenging environment, and showing your kids you can all stay calm and collected, will teach your kids they can make it through anything.
Learn as a team. Show your children that you also have interests. Let your gratitude and amazement in the small things show. It’s not just your children who are learning while traveling. You are too!
Worldschooling Resources For Learning On The Go
Learning on the go, while worldschooling, can seem difficult. Sometimes having a house full of resources is convenient. At home, we always have paper, a plethora of art supplies, a library room full of books arranged by topic (I am an obsessive book shelf organizer and LOVE my books). Its easy to order something on amazon, and have it on your doorstep the next day.
But schooling on the road can be a little less convenient. Here are our absolute favorite items to have with us at all times. We truly love paper and pen. Our family does not necessarily learn best online just yet. Don’t buy or carry anything more than what you actually need, and only bring the right stuff.
So, learn from my mistakes and make sure you have these items in your travel packs at all times:
The Only Items You Need To Worldschool
- A lightweight sketch book with blank paper (I like this size for long term use, or you can get smaller/flatter options like this one for shorter term use)
- A lightweight notebook with lined paper
- High quality color pencils in a metal case and colored pens
- A kindle, tablet, or Ipad. I strongly recommend the Kindle Kids (it comes with a free cover, thousands of free books, the ability to link to your local library, parental controls…and prevents kids from using it as an internet gaming or web surfing device).
- Double sided tape
- A pouch for your pens and pencils
- A larger padded pouch for all your supplies
Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a total learning loss. In fact, turning every moment into an experience will ensure your child learns. Happy Travels!