It’s true, my life is forever ruined as a result of being homeschooled. Due to the freedom I had to learn from practically any location during my formative years, I now suffer from a pesky wanderlust that keeps me adding more and more countries and experiences to my bucket list each year. My family’s adventures all started before my homeschooling years, truth be told. My brave parents took me on an extended journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad when I was only a few years old, and they tell me I slept on the floor in the train bunk rooms without much complaining. Though I was too young to remember that ride, I have fun pictures to look back on like this one where we rented a van after finishing our train journey and headed to explore Germany.
Thanks to my parents’ desire to teach English while sharing about their faith in Jesus, they moved our family to China when I was 5 years old. My homeschooling life started there, mainly out of necessity due to the lack of English schools in our area. There were a few other Americans in our city who also had kids, so thankfully I wasn’t the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed spectacle around.
I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to grow up in another country, and because of being homeschooled, the ability to travel and explore so many places throughout Asia. My cultural lessons included things like attending the Peking Opera and learning some geography and history by taking a cruise on the Yangtze River. When we were not traveling, learning Mandarin was probably my most frequent and effortless “class” as I played with the local children. I was even lucky enough to appear on Chinese television to perform a children’s story in Mandarin, while a Chinese girl performed it in English. All these wonderful memories have positively shaped how I view the world and will stay with me for a lifetime. There were hard times to be sure, and I did struggle with missing home and my familiar culture, but the benefits of living in China certainly outweighed the downsides.
In addition to being able to learn in a non-traditional setting, I love the flexibility that homeschooling afforded me to set my own schedule. Not being tied to any physical location or timetable offered so much more time for real-life learning. It takes discipline to make sure all coursework is still being completed, but having the freedom to break from the routine at times is invaluable. Life was definitely flexible, but it wasn’t without oversight as I still had to take standardized tests each year. My Mom also had to turn in records of my performance to our home state each month, but there was significant freedom to choose the curriculum that best fit my learning style.
When we returned back to the US after living in China, my Mom continued to homeschool me until the 8th grade. I’m glad to have experienced both types of education to compare the pros and cons. The main reason I switched to a traditional middle school in 8th grade was to be able to play sports. I realize that homeschooling is definitely not the right fit for everyone, but if it does end up being what you choose for your family/children, rest assured their lives will also be forever ruined by a relentless pursuit of adventure, flexibility, and freedom to learn in the way that best suits their needs and personality.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about education and how it relates to wanderlust.
The Planking Traveler