SOCIALIZATION. When talking about our travel school, often someone will comment to us in a hushed tone, “But what about socialization?”…
I cringe at the question, but understand the concern. Children are inherently social creatures and luckily ours make friends of every age, color, religion and nationality wherever we go.
Travel-Schooling for us, involves about seven months of the year living and cruising on our Huckins Ortega 40. The remaining five months are spent either at our home in Newport, RI or traveling to other places in the world. We connect with friends, or make new ones, at every opportunity both on land and water.
So, for some 21st century perspective: Not to to worry, everyone! Our kids have loads of friends – more friends now than ever before – because their social bubble has been extended well-beyond their reach. They play sports, are confident pre-teens and are kind human beings. They go to school – just not in a concrete-blocked classroom. Their peers come from other neighborhoods, schools, states and countries.
We always seem to have loads of kids at our house and are fortunate to attract great families when traveling as well. Inside our circle of favorite people, are friends that go to Private, Public, Catholic, Spanish immersion, French, Experiential Learning and Home-schools. Each child brings a different perspective and experience to the group.
In addition to the importance of communities having great local school options, I love that many types of “homeschools” are becoming acceptable and appear to be receiving a much needed social re-branding. This is a good thing.
Our kids play organized sports from May through August in Newport. We fill the gaps during the fall and winter months by being outside, exploring nature and also joining in whatever local sports we can. Baseball, softball, golf, basketball, swimming and soccer continue to be favorite sports.
We do what we do, because it is right for us. Each child, parent and family is unique and our style of education would not work for everyone. We take a “whole child, whole world” approach to learning and we take it one year at a time.
Oliver and Sophia sharing adventure stories with friends Mairen (14) and Sioban (12) who are un-schooled as they travel/live aboard their Stevens 47 (see their family blog at sailingtotem.com). Laura (17), attends a french school in the heart of Valencia, Spain but has spent the last two summers with us in America.
As for the social lives of our children, we have zero worries that they will not continue to fit in with the rest of society as healthy, normal people do.
I would beg to ask the question however – regardless of where/how kids go to school – how ‘socialized’ are the children who sit in front of technology devices for hours on end? Or the ones who don’t play sports or with kids outside their age bracket? I worry about kids who don’t know how to look an adult in the eye while in conversation or don’t understand basic telephone manners. My heart aches when I hear about kids who experience debilitating stress in their school life over work-load, standardized testing or peer pressure.
Homeschooling is an interesting path to take and has been a positive and uplifting experience for us. It is completely understandable that even families who would love to homeschool their children might feel that it is impossible for them. Homeschooling is not easy and can be expensive between the cost of books, field trips, home library and extra-curricular activities alone. The answers to many questions about education reform lie in parents having options, as opposed to one way being ‘better’ than another. Every family is different; every child is different.
I love the exchange below (author unknown), which we found on the website: homeschool activities. It made us all laugh when we read it – as it explains our Travel-School experience well (although we have never made a branch-ladder…. not yet, anyway)!
QUESTION: How does a homeschooling family change a light bulb?
ANSWER: First, mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life. Then, everyone studies the history of lighting methods. Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare prices and types of light bulbs. On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the five-dollar bill. Finally, after building a ladder of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.
And there is light.
As of 2016, there are about 2.3 million home-school/travel-school students in the United States.
Wikipedia Stats: (Brian, 2016)