Go to school. Find a good job. Marry someone good. Buy a house and have a few kids. Retire.
This was the formula that most of us were given for life after high school. And up until my health was severely compromised, Tim and I followed that to a tee, well almost.
After years of servitude to other companies, spending weekends not seeing each other and paying more for daycare than we were saving, we decided that needed a drastic change.
And so began our journey into entrepreneurship. In 6 short months, we quickly learned that we knew nothing.
From e-commerce to investing, we soon found out that there was this whole world of making income outside of a job that was never taught to us in college or by our parents.
And to be honest, it was overwhelming. There was so much information to unpack but more importantly, there was so much to unlearn.
It was then that we realized that we couldn’t allow our children to go down the same beaten path.
They needed access to an education that would grow with them and could be modified based on their learning styles.
But more importantly, they needed an education that would prepare them for the future they would have to grow up in.
Choosing how you want to homeschool
With our new-found realization, we embarked on uncovering every avenue to give our children this unorthodox education.
We looked into everything from Montessori schools to British international schools and, beyond the cost, their curriculum just didn’t fit the learning environment we were trying to create.
After a few late-night forum reads and an exhausting amount of research, we learned about all the different forms of homeschooling.
Relaxed or Eclectic – homeschooling is the method used most often by homeschoolers.
Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, and taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.
School-at-Home – is the style most often portrayed in the media because it is so easy to understand and can be accompanied by a photo of children studying around the kitchen table.
This is also the most expensive method and the style with the highest burnout rate.
Unschooling – This Ted Talk video by a 13-year-old homeschooler is an excellent example of Unschooling. He calls it “Hackschooling”.
Notice how he does not use one single curriculum and how his learning is based on his interests. His homeschooling takes place at home, at Starbucks, and out in the community.
Classical – This approach has existed since the Middle Ages and has produced some of the greatest minds in history.
The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are Reason, Record, Research, Relate and Rhetoric.
Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn the three R’s.
The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study, and research take place.
Waldorf – This method is also used in some homeschools. Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner and stresses the importance of educating the whole child – body, mind, and spirit.
In the early grades, there is an emphasis on arts and crafts, music and movement, and nature. Older children are taught to develop self-awareness and how to reason things out for themselves.
Children in a Waldorf homeschool do not use standard textbooks; instead, the children create their own books.
Montessori materials are also popular in some homeschools. The Montessori method emphasizes “errorless learning” where the children learn at their own pace and in that way develop their full potential.
The Montessori homeschool emphasizes beauty and quality and avoids things that are confusing or cluttered.
Wooden tools are preferred over plastic tools and learning materials are kept well organized and ready to use.
How we approach homeschooling
Our daughters are 4 and 7 years old. By Western school standards, our 7-year-old would be starting 2nd grade in the fall and our 4-year-old would not even start school until after her 5th birthday, which would be August 2019.
Aria, our youngest, is very smart. She picks up subjects and information very easily and began reading sight words at age 3. Limiting her education based on some archaic timeline that didn’t take into consideration how she learned or her intelligence, just didn’t seem right.
Jordyn (our oldest), loves Science and Art and while she had some traditional schooling, she loves learning new topics on her own in an unrestricted format.
So, we took both of their learning styles into consideration and decided on a combination of educational formats; Eclectic and Unschooling. We wanted to have the room to give them some foundational basics while allowing them to explore topics they are interested in all in an unorthodox format.
Our classroom can be anywhere from the kitchen table, to a museum, a park, or even the beach.
We have configured their learning to be an everyday habit because that is how life should be.
But we had to approach this practically.
I work as a digital marketing consultant online and this sometimes requires hours of my undivided attention.
Tim is an insurance adjuster and when he is not away at a job, he is our designated videographer, editor, chef and all-around super dad.
We both work on our blog and various online businesses together in between all of this.
Despite our good intentions, we knew that we needed some type of format to help our girls with the everyday basics, so after a few Google searches, more forums reads and browsing a couple of
Facebook groups we landed on Time4Learning.com.
Time4learning.com is an online education program that combines technology and curriculum to make learning fun.
What we personally love about it is that we can control what they learn, at the pace they learn and it allows us to reinforce the basics on a consistent basis.
Aria started her Kindergarten curriculum in Dec. 2017 and is on pace to be complete with all her subjects by the summer.
If we feel she is comfortable with certain subjects and has a solid understanding, we will allow her to begin some first-grade work in the fall.
Remember, she is 4 and won’t be 5 until September 2018.
Jordyn has excelled in Science and Math and her reading skills have drastically improved from when she was in a traditional school.
She does have a bit of trouble with some areas of language arts, so we take the extra time to go back and review them specifically without holding her back from moving to the next level of subjects that she has already conquered.
Time4leanring.com takes into account the unique way that children are learning today by making learning more interactive and reinforcing subjects at the end of the lesson.
Instead of textbooks and boring lectures, this platform uses games, cartoon characters, songs, stories, and quick quizzes to see how the child is learning each subject.
Often times I will hear Aria and Jordyn singing a song from a previous lesson and then explaining to us what they learned.
And with us traveling full-time, having a tool like this really helps us set the premise of how we want our girls to learn.
Burning questions and answers
Now that you understand the why behind our choice of homeschooling and what platform we use, I am going to answer some of the most burning questions parents have asked us when it comes to homeschooling.
Q1) Does homeschooling make children unequipped socially?
No. In fact, Aria is a little too social.
Throughout our travels, she will say hello to everyone she encounters, hand out high-fives like they are candy and play with any child that has a friendly demeanor.
And thanks to the wonders of technology and video chatting, our kids are able to stay in touch with friends they meet along our travels and call family and friends back in the U.S.
I think we have a unique advantage because we are traveling full-time and it makes our girls encounter new people and experiences almost every day.
Q2) Since your children don’t have a regulated curriculum, do they lack discipline?
Webster definition of Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.
I think understanding this definition is critical to comprehending our methodology in teaching our kids. Discipline is first applied to behavior.
They know how to act in public, say yes ma’am, no sir, please and thank you and are very well mannered. Now when it comes to their education, discipline is redefined by them being dedicated to a particular subject and focusing on solving a problem without giving up.
We are raising our girls to embrace entrepreneurship and make their primary goal in life about being happy and fulfilled. So discipline, in the traditional sense, is more fluid based on what area of life you are talking about.
Q3) You and your husband are not teachers, nor did you go to school for it, so how can you teach your children?
When our children are born, the doctor didn’t hand over a life-manual on how to properly raise them. It takes hard work, research, willingness to adjust and grow, lots of love and patience.
Parents are a child’s first teacher. You teach them how to walk, talk, eat, right from wrong, etc… You know your child better than any teacher.
So when we decided to homeschool, we identified the areas where we had strong suits (life lessons, travel, exploration, and hands-on-learning) and filled the gap with a basic curriculum so they could have some foundational learnings.
Being our kids’ teacher isn’t about having all the answers and literally having a book in our hand 24 hours/day.
We chose Electic/Hackschooling because it fits best with the way we want our kids to learn but also fits our teaching style as well.
Q4) Beyond their online learning, how else are your girls being educated?
This is by far one of my favorite questions because it integrates into the mantra that we teach the girls which is “You learn every day”.
Take a day out in a new country for example. If we are climbing a mountain to see an ancient temple, it gives us a chance to talk about the history of that place (Subject: history), the culture of the people (subject: social studies), why the temple exists (subject: social studies/history), how many steps we have climbed (subject: math), the plant and animal life we encounter on the way up (subject: science).
Typically, after we have a big adventure, I have Jordyn write up 1 – 2 paragraphs talking about her experience in detail (subject: writing, reading, language arts). And for Aria, I will have her work on new words based on a place we have visited and write that new word five times.
Beyond this, we are starting to teach Jordyn the value of money. Where it comes from, how to spend it, how to earn it and by the end of 2018, she will have started her first business.
Our goal is to leverage the basics they learn online by reinforcing them with real-life situations/scenarios.
Focusing an entire year on algebra theorems seems like a waste when my child doesn’t know how to create a household budget, knows nothing about compounding interest and has no idea what an LLC is.
We want our kids to have the kind of education that translates into tools that can help them succeed in real life and allows them to create the kind of life they truly want. No matter what that looks like.
Q5) Would you ever consider placing them in a normal schooling environment while you are traveling?
We have entertained the idea of allowing them to attend an international school if we are in a location for longer than 3 months but only temporarily, of course.
Our decision to homeschool was clearly based on our exposure to the U.S. school system so we can’t paint the world’s school system with the same brush.
But we do know that we don’t want our kids falling into an education system that doesn’t allow them to freely explore their interests, holds them back from learning specific subjects and boxes them in with other kids.
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We are The Wilson’s. Tim, Yunche, Jordyn (age 7), and Aria (age 4). After years of chasing the American dream, going through bankruptcy and losing our home along with everything we worked so hard for we decided it was time for a massive change. So we sold everything we had left, bought a one-way ticket, and started a travel adventure around the world. As of July 2018, we have set-up a home base in Chiang Mai, Thailand where we will continue to travel the world and world school our girls.