A few months ago, I informed my parents that we are planning to visit Taiwan for six weeks. My dad posed an important question: “What will the girls do for school while you’re in Taiwan?” When I went on a family vacation during the school year as a kid, I either had to take work along with me or make it up when we returned. The beauty of homeschooling is that we can incorporate a broad education wherever we go without relying solely on textbooks. With that being said, we are planning to leave our formal curriculum at home (or perhaps at Grandpa’s house).
Instead, we will focus on worldschooling—helping our kids to learn by experiencing the world around them in a different culture. As the girls are immersed in a foreign culture, I don’t want textbooks to keep us from experiencing all Taiwan has to offer. Our primary “curriculum” will be everyday life.
Opportunities to study language arts will abound. As we experience the culture of Taiwan, the girls will keep a journal. My “proofreaders” will have extra opportunities to apply their grammar skills while helping me prepare blog posts for publishing while we’re there. Also, the girls will continually be exposed to the Chinese language wherever we go. They are bound to advance their understanding.
Practical math will be a part of everyday life. Since Taiwan uses a different currency, I anticipate many mental calculations to help us understand the cost of the items we purchase. Helping to budget on the trip will have more immediate value than the algebra and geometry lessons, which we will postpone until our return.
Traveling to a different culture is the ultimate way to experience social studies firsthand. As we find our way around each day, we will be doing geography. I expect to visit many historical and cultural sites while in Taiwan. I have my eye on several locations, including aboriginal sites and an old mining town.
To cover science, I am planning visits to the Taipei Zoo and several science centers during our stay. Hiking and visiting geological features such as hot springs will help us experience nature. I am sure that my mother-in-law, who teaches middle school science, will make up for anything we might leave out on that front. Perhaps the girls will even sit in on her class one day.
Life skills are of higher value than academics. Have you ever used public transportation or gone shopping in a foreign country? My daughters will have many opportunities to develop confidence in these areas. Additionally, we will make many practical decisions as a family. Where should we explore each day? When should we save money by preparing our own meals instead of trying new foods in a restaurant? Helping to make decisions like these, our teens will be better prepared for life no matter what curriculum we use.
The plans for our worldschooling adventure are starting to take shape. This week we purchased our plane tickets and reserved a place to stay for our trip. As we begin plotting a day-by-day itinerary (or at least a list of places we plan to visit), I am intentionally incorporating some academic subject areas. Our primary objective, however, is to allow new experiences to inform and instruct us as we learn to live in a foreign culture.
Have you ever traveled to Taiwan? If so, what sites do you recommend that we visit during our stay?