how to educate your child"What do you do about education?"

Since our family of seven became nomadic in 2007, along with 'how do you fund it?', this is probably the question we've been asked most often.

Many of these people were probably wondering how our kids could attend school while we were vagabonding around the globe.

The answer to this question is not something I personally worried about. For me, education and school are not necessarily the same thing. They can happen independent of each other.

In the beginning we started traveling because we saw how many educational benefits it inherently possessed. I knew my children were being educated, almost without effort, simply by exploring the world.

And our approach to education is not something I've written much about, because I know that my view of it is a 'complicated' subject that requires more than just one simple blog post.

BUT, education is something I'm extremely passionate about. And so, I've now decided to write about it.

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I think now is a great time to write about education, because it's something I'm really delving into (especially since we've bought The Homestead in Guatemala.)

I've always had high ideals regarding the type of education I wanted my children to receive. But those ideas were sort of nebulous -- a general 'feel-good' notion about them being really smart and well-read.

Until that last couple of years, I never put those 'feel-good' concepts into an actionable plan. But now I am.

Nothing happens by accident, and that especially includes a 'great education'. My kids are getting older, and I'm feeling the weight of really taking this 'education' stuff seriously.

I'll be doing a series of posts about it, sharing my own 'journey' and personal experience as I craft a world-class educational plan for me and my children.

It starts with the basics:

Can you think of any other questions?

Tajamulco - 41I believe that each individual has unlimited potential. Our children (as well as you and I) have a unique mission to fulfill.

We need an education to match our mission. (Yes, I said we because it's not just our children that need it. We do too, as their parents and mentors.)

Our children deserve a higher level of education than they are currently receiving. We were given children with special gifts and missions to fulfill. It is incumbent on us to learn the basics of a great education, so we can help them achieve it and obtain their personal greatness (as well as ours.)

This idea of a 'better' education doesn't mean that you have to home school, or send your kids to public or private school. I'm not advocating one form or another.

What I do advocate is more parental involvement, better parental example, and higher expectations for ourselves and our families. Regardless of the school or method you do choose, as the parent it's your responsibility to ensure that the quality is up to par with their mission, and that you set the example as their mentor.

We're not trying to help our kids 'just' go to college and get a good job when they graduate. Our goal is much loftier than that.

We're trying to help our kids to grow up to change the world.

Will you join us on this quest?

Want to read more now? These are the books I'm using as my 'curriculum' as I create an educational plan of excellence for my family.


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27 Responses

  1. WendellClark74

    I am interested in learning more about your progress.  Good luck and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  2. WagonersAbroad

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for us.  We are a family of 4 currently living in Spain.  Our kids are just about done with their first school year in public school here.  Our goal was immersion into the language for them.  We have decided that we would like to have them solidify the language with one more school year or partial year.  Then we hope to hit the road and see more of the world (SEAsia for example).  This would likely mean homeschooling and we are trying to research for that now.  To figure out our plan.  Any nuggets, advice and thoughts you are willing to share will be most helpful to us.   I am one of 6 kids myself, so I know about a big family.  The more you do, the more you can do….so you have my complete trust. 🙂  Thanks!

  3. Brooks Conkle

    I’m super excited to see where you go with this.  Education is something that’s morphed in my mind over the last few years.  I think we’re going to see a huge shift in the institution as a whole – I think we’ll possibly see some large schools collapse that can’t keep up with the growth, we’ll see free online schools actually be given credit for what they are as people go through those courses – it’s an exciting time!

  4. Brooks Conkle

    Not only that, I love that you’re not advocating a specific type of education, but that it’s intentional.  That it’s parental involved.  And that it’s empowering for children to change the world.

  5. miks2u

    I’ll be most interested to hear how you work this out.  And if you’re looking for collaborators I’ll be glad to participate.
    My wife and I have been talking about this a lot lately.  Our kids currently attend an international school in Penang, Malaysia.  By the way we live in the high rise apartments in the background of the school picture.  Very convenient.  
    But my contract job is ending this summer so we are planning to return to USA for a year or two before starting our next adventure.  I suspect we’ll just do public school in US for now so we can save enough money to support our next leap into the unknown.
    I’m of the opinion that the core educational objectives can be met in a lot less time than it takes in the typical classroom environment.  After all its pretty much limited to the pace of the slower if not the slowest kids, and by necessity it’s one size fits all.  I see the value in the socialization and learning to interact and fit in with peers.  But it seems like a terribly inefficient way to build the core body of knowledge needed to be effective in life and work.
    I’m thinking of ways to “hack” the process so that the core goals can be met quickly, leaving more time for socialization and learning about life beyond the standard body of knowledge.  I’d like to see them develop effective skills for managing time, money, and projects.  All of those things seem to be sadly lacking in the traditional education environment.  I’m still figuring it all out at age 48.  
    One thing I do like about the international school kids are in now is that they do a lot of presentation activities.  Preparing and presenting are both useful skills.  But we’ve heard feedback from other parents and students that the middle school and high school program is not as good.  So we aren’t sad that we’re leaving, at least not for the moment.
    Another idea that I have been playing with is to put together a “history of science” tour, which would take several months.  Start in Greece, study the work of the philosophers and mathemeticians, move on to the middle east for things like arabic numbers, maybe china (not sure about that yet), then work through europe for the Renaissance and early industrial age, then across America for the electrical and atomic eras.      The work would be to write blog posts and videos telling about what they learned.
    Wow looks like I should post this on my own blog. Didn’t mean to dump a  mini epic on you – it just came out that way 🙂

    • RachelDenning

      miks2u I LOVE your ‘history of science’ tour idea. I’ve thought of doing something similar, traveling to the places you’re studying about, following history around the globe. I agree with many of your points. Thanks for your epic comment 🙂

    • Brooks Conkle

      miks2u “I’m of the opinion that the core educational objectives can be met in a lot less time than it takes in the typical classroom environment.  After all its pretty much limited to the pace of the slower if not the slowest kids, and by necessity it’s one size fits all.  I see the value in the socialization and learning to interact and fit in with peers.  But it seems like a terribly inefficient way to build the core body of knowledge needed to be effective in life and work.”
      Completely agree with this.
      I’m 29 and currently don’t have children, but I have a passion for travel, business, and life adventure.  
      Your tour starting with the ancient philosophers sounds incredibly cool.
      It also sounds like a full time job!
      I’m Very interested to see what Rachel (and you) find out and discover about this.  
      My main thoughts:  To do education how it should be done, do you need to do it yourself?  Can you combine with others?  Are there good curriculum ideas for this?  Is there a need for an educational product to be created?

      • RachelDenning

        Brooks Conkle miks2u These are exactly some of the ideas I want to discuss. Some very great questions!

      • miks2u

        Brooks Conkle miks2u Do you need to do it yourself? Let’s put it this way. I don’t think that you can outsource it and forget it. Parents do need to be directly involved, because they are the most committed to the outcome. But I don’t think that has to mean that you do it all yourself.
        I really don’t know if there’s an educational product that could directly address these concerns, or if it’s even possible to create one. I do think that ubiquitous connectivity has changed the range of possibilities for education far more than most of us realize.  As William Gibson said “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”  The MOOC movement is a game changer at the college level, but I’m not sure how well that fits at the elementary and secondary level.  That certainly does imply that one of the core needs for elementary education is to turn our kids into self directed learners. 
        The best thing to do for now is look for bright spots and case studies of success. I certainly count Rachel as one of those 🙂

      • RachelDenning

        miks2u Brooks Conkle Thanks, I appreciate that. And I agree with you. I think because of the individuality of each child and their personal mission, there couldn’t be one educational product that ‘fits all’. It has to be individualized according to their interests and life mission — which is why parents do need to be heavily involved, but also why they don’t have to do it all themselves. Outsourcing things can be good, as long as you’re still involved in what’s going on.

  6. GwenHulsegge

    Hi Rachel, you know I am interested in this topic so I will definitely be following it closely. Thank you for writing about this!

  7. Claudia

    I’m absolutely interested in this topic, I’ll follow it gladly! you’re great, guys!

    (Was there meant to be a link on “These are the books I’m using as my “curriculum”…”? Can’t find it!)

  8. DeniseAck

    Thank you for this post!  Just stumbled on your blog and obviously it was fate.  We have the opportunity to work in Mexico for at least a few months and seriously considering going this fall.  Our kids are going into 9th and 10th grade in public school.  School now seems to be a breeding ground of bad decisions, drama, and boredom.  Getting teens to think coherently at 7am is a lesson in futility.  I’m becoming more and more convinced that education can be completed online much more efficiently with the rest of the day available for real-world experience.    I look forward to following this series of posts!

  9. MelanieMurrish

    Hi Rachel, we have been unschooling for three years now and we are just about to try a different approach. I feel like I have been dumbing down myself and my kids (not the fault of unschooling itself, but I just don’t think it is right for our family). 
    I have been researching “Classical Education” and “Charlotte Mason” and think that a combination of the two will work for our children (I stole the idea from Jenn Miller 😉 ) 
    I’ve realised that it’s almost impossible to totally follow one style, particularly as our children are sooooo different, and that’s why I’m a great advocate of parental involvement-you can go at the child’s pace etc…
    Checking out the books on your list and I’m really looking forward to following your journey as always.


  10. RachelDenning

    MelanieMurrish Way to go! I totally agree with you. What works for one child might not work for another, so it’s important that we’re open to changing styles if necessary.

  11. RachelDenning

    DeniseAck “A breeding ground of bad decisions, drama and boredom.” I agree with you! My husband has spent many years teaching in the public school setting 🙂

  12. Ali_Davies

    I read your post with interest as our 9 year old son left traditional bricks and mortar school yesterday to follow a self designed educational path to match who he is as a person and how he learns best and to follow his passions and interests. A journey of experimentation and adventure ahead which we are very excited about. Looking forward to seeing how your journey unfolds too.


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