Why world schooling? Are we out of our minds?

To tell you the truth, when I read about families taking a year off to travel while they “unschooled” their children, the first thing that came to my mind was “This will never work for me! I don’t have the money, the boys need to go to school, i don’t know how to unschool (not even familiar with what that is), I need the comfort of my own bed and pillows and kitchen, my boys need a stable home.”
Then last year, when i was at a conference in Boston, I started speaking to college students who were homeschooled and unschooled, as well as, to some parents who shared their opinion about why they felt it worked for their children. I then began on a tireless journey interviewing some brilliant homeschooling and unschooling bloggers on my podcast and that’s when it all started to make sense to me…that it was just the thing that might work for my boys and me.
You see, I’ve always felt that school systems are made to cater to only 20% (at best) of learners that exist on this planet and the rest will either be struggling, falling behind or getting up to no good. And that was the case with my boys. My elder son (12 years old) is dyslexic and has speech delays. We have managed to get him into a mainstreamed school that has support for children with learning difference, but this came with a very hefty school fee.
His elementary school was a series of IEP meetings and being told how he was, or wasn’t, catching up to his peers. Although I was eternally grateful for them making provisions for him, I was also tired of how he was being measured up in areas that were just not what he was cut out for and how they spent every bit of energy focusing on getting him to do what everybody else could do so easily (reading and writing and speaking). I felt that he was gifted in areas where others weren’t. I felt that he simply wasn’t given any opportunities to develop in those areas. Why? Because we were putting all our emphasis and waking hours trying to get him to do what he might never be able to do as well as everybody else.
I saw his frustrations and realized that this was no way to live….constantly trying to measure up to everybody else in areas where you know you are not as capable. But, then again, because he was forced to spend most of his waking hours learning to read and write, he had other talents that have gone un-nurtured.
The thing is, Charles is extremely gifted when it comes to physical sports and for being able to framing camera shots. At the age of 5, he basically taught himself to swim and at 7, he learnt to surf with only one class. He started playing tennis in a full-sized court at 6 and could easily send the ball to the other end of the court. Aside from his athletic abilities, he’s also gifted with a camera. He exceptionally good with framing subjects, whether it’s with taking picture or video footage. He has taken many of my pictures and videos for me and is, well, just amazingly good at it.
However, he doesn’t have a lot of time to work on these skills that he picks up so easily and effortlessly. Instead, he spends a large amount of his day trying to catch up with his reading and writing skills and by the end of the week, he is already dead tired and very much mentally exhausted.
I didn’t want him to waste any more time being frustrated. I realized that i had to change our circumstances if I really wanted to give him a fighting chance to reach his full potential. Learning would have to be different if he was to contribute to this world in ways that are unique to him and that make him feel purposeful. Imagine how much time we would have to nurture these skills, if we didn’t have to clock in all these hours at school?
And just in case you are thinking that I chose to world school because i have a son who couldn’t cope with school, think again. My younger son, Kevin (9 years old) is on the other end of the spectrum. He does extremely well in school. For example, he typically will complete a 20 minute class assignment in 5 minutes leaving him an extra 15 mins to “socialize” (aka distract his friends who are still working). Or, to get creative (aka to find different ways to do what isn’t really appropriate in a classroom) and to develop his problem-solving skills (aka to find ways to do what he wants to do without getting caught). So yes, this is one super academic child who is bored out of his mind because the class pace is too slow for him when he has already surpassed his classmates and grade skills.
Do you remember earlier in this article, when i said that I felt that school was only for 20% of the population? It turns out that both my boys don’t fall under this 20% range of learners. As a result, both were getting sent out of the classroom—one for being restless and the other for remedial work. And here I was wondering why I was paying so much in school fees to have my boys spend time outside of class!
So now, I have a choice. I could leave them where they and just complain about it like many parents would (about are how the school systems sucks and how they aren’t helping my children and…and…and…). Or, I could do something to help them.
Hence, my decision to world school. As of 1st of October 2016, my boys and I have started on this crazy world schooling journey. And, as we are trying out different things, we are also defining and redefining the concept of world schooling based on what works for us and what doesn’t. This blog is the platform for both my boys and me to share all our experiences with you—the good, the bad and the really helpful stuff—so that you, too, can make decisions for your family, based on what works for you!

Foong Kwin Tan

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