The World is Our Classroom

All of my husband’s immediate family speaks two or more languages. My husband is fluent in two languages and has a working knowledge of a third. His cousin is fluent in four languages (she’s amazing, by the way). I only speak one language. I want my children to speak at least one additional language (English is their native language and also mine). I wanted to immerse them in another language, but I don’t want to sell everything to travel the world or settle somewhere else long term. What was I going to do to encourage language learning while staying true to my unschooling philosophy?

Thank you!

What languages do you want to learn?

That’s when I stumbled upon the idea of slow travel; living somewhere for for a few months, while still being able to come home when we are ready.

The beauty of this idea is that anyone can do it. I know if both parents are working full time, it may be a little more difficult to plan a large amount of time to stay out of the US (or your home country), but if it is worth doing for you, you can work towards that goal. If your kids are in school during the school year, it is still possible to spend a month or two in the country of your choice in the summertime. There will be a huge educational impact, even if you don’t forcefully try to make it educational.

FreeImages.com/Joshua Williams

FreeImages.com/Joshua Williams
The Louvre. I also visited the Louvre grounds, but we arrived too late to go inside.

Travel takes us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes, it takes us way out of comfort zone and the act of travel can only be appreciated once we are home.

As your children get older, they can participate in the planning within the travel budget, they can help choose the destinations, they can learn things about the destination beforehand; can you imagine seeing the Sistine Chapel or the Coliseum right after you first heard about them? When I was 11, my mother took me to France. It was incredible for many reasons, including it being the first time I was on an airplane. We toured the Eiffel Tower and the Catacombs, and saw the Arc de Triomphe. I’d learned of two of these landmarks in school. I’d never heard of the Catacombs and yes, that made an impact! That trip to France included staying overnight in Switzerland and driving through Monaco. Other than that amazing trip, our travels were mostly contained to US and Canada roadtrips. I credit those with my current desire to travel with my children.

How on earth are we going to afford 2 or 3 months of travel per year? We have bills, a mortgage, and pets. First, we have to want it and make a family budget. Second, travel hacking! This involves getting and using frequent flyer miles to get to those amazing destinations.

I haven’t done an extensive amount of traveling. How am I going to manage two kids while traveling? My husband doesn’t have a career where he can work from home. While I have started working online, how will I manage two young kids and working? People do it all the time and because they do, I know I can. Someone else has already paved the way, so fear not! Prepare to learn how to adapt!

I’ve been reading inspirational solo travel blogs for a few years now. It never occurred to me that solo travel was an option. I did not travel by myself before I became a mom, how do I lose the fear and travel? How do I travel with kids?

  1. Stop watching the US news. It is designed to keep you glued to your seat and you’re only going to hear the bad stuff.
  2. Go somewhere new. Give yourself the best possible outcome by going to said new place at the best time of day for your child(ren). For us, this is morning. We are going to go to our local art museum some morning soon.
  3. Go! Pick a destination and go! Are you in the USA and want to learn French? Try Montreal or Martinique. Spanish? Try Mexico! Try a weekend trip or camping if that’s all your current savings allow.
his person is really brave! It's also an example of being scared of something that you don't have to do to still be considered brave. Anyone who merely considers skydiving is brave in my eyes! 

This person is really brave! It’s also an example of being scared of something that you don’t have to do to still be considered brave. Anyone who merely considers skydiving is brave in my eyes!

My kids and I talk about bravery a lot. They are brave daily and often show great courage. We point out that there are occasions where not doing something makes us brave (not following the crowd if the crowd is doing something against our own principles, for example). We also talk about times when doing something scary is really brave.  Traveling with kids will be difficult. It will be rewarding. The memories and exposure will be worth the challenges.

So mamas and papas, be brave! Go forth and let the world be your classroom!

What brave travel plans are you making?

Brave, these people are.

Brave, these people are.

2 thoughts on “The World is Our Classroom

  1. Heidi says:

    Love, love, love the idea of staying in one location for a month or two! Then you’re no longer a tourist and become more immersed in the culture. I’m trying to figure out how we can do that too. It’s truly the best way to learn.

    • Natalie says:

      It is! I really hope that my children will be bilingual. I hope I will, too. I just can’t figure out which one, so I play duolingo with 3 different languages. Master of none!

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