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I put my first daughter, Teen Kiddo, in preschool when she turned a year and a half, I didn´t really put much thought into it. I just picked a nice school and off she went. Between the ages of 18 months and 6 years old she went to four different schools but repeated Kindergarten for complicated reasons, so she´s one year behind, who cares.
In first grade she started in a small school in Lima called La Casa de Carton and she really liked it there. And then when she turned 13, we took her out of that school, put her in
intensive English courses everyday for
a month and then left for Asia.
We got her an 8th grade year through an Online High School, because I never considered that she would stop schooling, but I knew that an International School would be way over our budget. The online High School was pretty good, some of the lessons were easy for her and she did them with no problem and some were a complete hassle and she never wanted to do them.
What she could have finished in six months took her almost a year and a half. It was hell, for her, for me, for everyone. She just wanted to go back to her old school, be with her friends and her cousins. Relocating a teenager turned out to be really freaking difficult and hard on her as well as us. She lived at night talking to her friends back home who were 12 hours behind her.
In between all these failed attempts at Online High Schooling, her little brother wandered around Luang Prabang and Bangkok with his dad. I was extremely pregnant and then nursing a newborn.
I had a hard time convincing her to do the work, she herself had a hard time doing the work. We had a hard time all around. She managed to survive Luang Prabang and then Bangkok, but then Phuket was too much and she needed to go back home to what she knew and what was comfortable for her.
I didn´t fight it too much, and now she´s back in her school with her same group of friends since the !st grade, living with my parents and my sisters and she couldn´t be better. Neither Online Schooling, nor Homeschooling worked for her. Unschooling; I couldn’t even start to imagine, she needed her group of friends to thrive. And that is what she is doing now.
When Teen Kiddo went back to Peru, Big Kiddo was three and a half and had to start some kind of schooling. We had already been teaching him the letters and numbers and easy things like that at home.
We found a school close to the house and signed him up. His dad took him four days and he cried the entire day for the four days. And then there was a holiday and he never went back. The crying was really hard on G and in Phuket I could not take him myself due to the difficult transportation setbacks.
At that point I decided to Homeschool him along with his little sister, Small Kiddo. We did pretty well for a few months. They really got into it and the activities. We decide take do a theme-based approach and of course the first theme was volcanoes! We went through a few themes but then it got harder to keep up.
I´ve never been good at scheduling and discipline, so things started to not get done “on time”. I decided maybe we should Unschool and just let Big Kiddo investigate the things he liked on his own terms. This worked really well actually for quite a while.
What I did notice between the Homeschooling and the Unschooling is that both took a lot of effort on my part. The Homeschooling had me preparing things and lessons for him to do while the Unschooling was helping him find stuff to learn about. Both wore me out. My hats off to all Homeschooling and Unschooling families, especially moms; that shit is hard!
While in the midst of all this schooling uncertainty, we moved to Bali and I had to figure out what we were going to do about it. After thinking, deliberating, discussing and feeling; we decided we would put both the kiddos in a preschool. I had a pretty strong reason for doing this; I needed some free time after three years of not having any at all. That was the selfish reason. But there were academic reasons too; the kiddos needed intensive English immersion and at home they were learning everything in Spanish. The social aspect I wasn´t too worried about but I did think the separation from me could do them some good.
So after Homeschooling and then Unschooling, I´ve come to the conclusion that if I have to label our way of schooling the kids, then it would have to be Worldschooling. Learning with the world, and through the way they experience it.
Contact with people and culture, constant moving around, immersion in a different language and the customs of the place they are in at that time. All these aspects of an expat and traveling lifestyle will always do wonders for them.
I did not enroll the kids in the preschool thinking “this is the first day of the rest of their lives”, I see it as a passing experience. Maybe a year, maybe two; in the meantime they will keep traveling and exploring as much as possible.
I have art projects to do with them as well and it should all fit quite well I hope. When we leave Bali for the next adventure we might not enroll them anywhere and do the schooling ourselves again.
What kind of schooling do you do with your kids? Do you like to label it? Do you feel you are radical in any form of schooling them?