Worldschooling

 

worldschoolingImagine the idea of the world being your classroom. No four walls to limit your learning. In fact your education wouldn’t start at 8 am and end when the bell rings at 3pm, it would be much longer than that. Now add to that the thrill of being in another part of the world, learning about different cultures and languages, by experiencing them, being immersed in them. That is the idea of worldschooling.

My late husband, Ian, was raised all over the world. He went to school in England and Australia. His mother grew up in Africa and Portugal. His brother lives in Bulgaria. To him the world was an open classroom. He was a worldschooler in many ways. We were able to do a lot of traveling together before he passed. We traveled to Mexico, Portugal, Spain, England. He had high hopes of traveling to China, but he died before those plans were realized. He was so enthralled with learning other cultures and appreciated cultural differences. He seemed at home anywhere he went. I loved that quality about him.
We were able to pass that love of travel onto our daughter Big Z. She was with us for most of those trips abroad. She was a pro at flying and seemed at home exploring different cultures. I was sure I wanted to pass this love of the world to both of my children after their dad died. So the three of us went on adventures and long road trips together. We drove to Canada and visited Niagara Falls. We drove to Vermont and visited family and friends along the way. We enjoyed fantastic foods and met new friends along the way.
Fast forward to several years later, now Poose and I have high hopes of exposing our family to wonderful traveling adventures. Our family regularly takes trips to State Parks to camp and explore. Since Poose and I got married last June we’ve already been to 5 states together as a family. We are planning to do some long term traveling this summer. I am very excited about the possibilities and the adventures that awaits us. It is so wonderful to have found someone that has a shared vision of exploration.
Some families are out there traveling the globe with their children. Some of my favorites are Lainie and Miro in Peru.  I particularly love that she is a single mom. They just finished up doing a TedX talk sharing their experiences. Another is eadventuregirl she has visited 24 countries with her family over a 7 year period. She has a fantastic blog sharing her learning experiences while traveling. They have lots of experience in world travel.  My very close friend has taken this idea to the extremes of the Mexican desert. There she writes about their adventures surviving the many differences of life in Mexico. Her teenage son recently did a video blog of what life was like where they live, HERE. 
I am so in love with the idea of world schooling. I believe it can help children grow to be well rounded, and interesting adults. I think exposing them to different people and different places helps them to be tolerant and open minded. You can’t help but learn when you are exposed to new ideas and new places. I hope you will check back in the future, I plan on writing more about our travels. What places have you visited and what have you learned? What do you think of the idea of worldschooling?

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Life Skills

lifeskills

Kids are natural born learners. They observe, then they give it a try themselves. That’s how they learn complex languages as an infant, that is how they learn most everything. It’s simple, natural and happens organically. The child observes the parent, then they copy the parent. It’s the same with life skills, children will naturally learn how to cook, clean, make wise choices and have healthy habits if that is what they are observing around them.

I remember learning about small children using machetes with great skill, because that was what their parents used to cut down the coconuts. This is a big cultural difference, here we get upset if our child goes up the slide when they “should be” going down. I felt comfortable with my children learning knife skills at a young age, I feel that a 5 year old can safely learn how to chop certain vegetables to help out with dinner. Until that time using an egg slicer to help cut up olives or we started earlier using a nylon knife set. Lettuce doesn’t require a knife at all, it can be ripped by any eager toddler.
By allowing our children, young and old to work along side us as we go about our daily lives provides them with valuable skills that will support them in their adult life. I child that has learned to use a knife with care as a small child, will often become quite skilled in the kitchen by the time they are young adults. It is such a great thing to have teenagers that are capable in the kitchen to help out with making healthy, delicious meals for the whole family.
I’ve mostly touched on the issue of working in the kitchen. However, this same ideas applies to other parts of our lives. Our small ones can help sort laundry, fold washcloths and towels, unload and sort the silverware from the dishwasher. By just being actively involved in activities around the house they can learn so many helpful skills. It’s also a great time to bond with your kids, sing songs together and learn about each other.
Life skills can also involve taking our children to fancy restaurants and exposing them to new foods and cultures. They’ll learn how to order for themselves, how to have good manners and how to eat real food. I don’t see the point in children’s menus filled with chicken nuggets and french fries at ethnic restaurants. Let them try new things and be excited about it, if that is what they are exposed to that is what they will enjoy.
What about teens? The same rules apply. By allowing them responsibility with money and cell phones. They will grow into responsible adults that tip well, that manage their time efficiently and know how to interact with others. How? By observing their parents and others around them do the same. This is also a reason I feel children should have friends of various ages. Let them have mentors and friends that are older that let them work along side them in the kitchen, out in the yard, on the job.
I’m a big believer in a child learns what they live. So what do you want your child to live?

Cooking

PSX_20150921_205058I LOVE food, cooking and most of all eating. I am very passionate about sharing that love with my children. Food education and cooking provide an excellent example of how unschooling can work.  I feel strongly that food education is lacking in the public school system. I remember when I was in school, I had home economics by middle school.I enjoyed home economics in school because my mom had us involved in cooking at home, so I found it easy and fun. I was saddened to hear that any type of food education is often delayed until High School. Often this is after bad eating habits have already been formed and many children are already obese.

I remember watching Jamie Oliver on TV going into public school classrooms and the kids weren’t able to identify the most basic of fruit and vegetables. I thought maybe it was staged, sadly I’ve run into some children since then, that proved it was a sad reality. Trying to give children very basic tidbits when they are in a high school classroom on the importance of a good diet and asking them to color a food pyramid isn’t going to cut it. Leading by example is important, if I make healthy choices for myself and my family, hopefully, they will go on to do the same. Walking through the grocery store and asking them as toddlers to find a green vegetable, including them in my daily activities such as my trips to the market, and prepping dinner was giving them an education.
 Unschooling is it’s a great way to share your passions and knowledge with your children in a very natural way. So at an early age, my kids were given a knife and taught the safe way to use it, they were taught to be excited at the farmers market when they spotted a new fruit or vegetable they wanted to try. This isn’t because I sat them down and showed them pictures of proper knife handling or did flashcards of vegetables. It’s because it was a natural part of our life. Cooking together started at a very young age. Now with three teenagers, they all are involved in our meal planning and they are active participants in cooking, and they find pleasure in it.
I think cooking is an important skill for all people to have. Understanding your way around the kitchen can be beneficial in so many ways. Clearly so much learning happens when children are involved in cooking. They are learning skills they will use for their entire life. Reading is involved when they use a recipe, Math is involved when measuring the ingredients, clearly they are learning about nutrition and making wise choices for their health. Baking is a perfect example of chemical reactions (that sounds like science to me). That’s what’s great about organic learning, it happens naturally and joyfully.