Travel vs Sending kids to school – the big debate
September means something different for every family. Most parents (and kids) are totally in school mode, but not us. We’re still in the days of enjoying the last weeks of summer and keeping busy with travel and house projects. Come next year though, we’ll be sending kids to school for the first time… or will we?
Sending kids to school is a big decision. A lot of parents just roll with it and get their kids signed up for preschool and then kindergarten when it’s time, but is that a must? What if we chose to NOT do that and just continue to educate them at home? We’re going through that debate currently, weighing out our options of the life we want to build with our kids. When it comes to educating our kids it is still to be fully determined what we will do, but wow do we talk about it a ton.
Travel and school
Um, we travel a lot and we do it all throughout the year. Growing up, my parents worked for the school system so travel was very specifically during the summer and winter breaks. If we start Oliver, our oldest, in school next September, that’s going to throw a wrench in our travel plans. If we stop exploring when fall comes, how will we get to learn about the forest and the mountains when it gets cold? If we’re always in school when there are holidays in other countries or festivals in other areas, how will the kids be exposed to culture outside of our little world?
It seems that the best way to keep on exploring and experiencing the world is to not adhere to a school calendar. It frees us up to do and see so much more of the world, and what better teacher is there than experience?
Note: we’re not talking about just haphazardly wandering the globe hoping the kids learn what they need to, but we’re thinking that being free to learn the necessities at home and get the surplus of experiencing culture and science first hand could be the best option for our kids.
And do you know what? We can even participate in classroom environments online if we feel the need to get into a fully structured program. And we can follow lessons or curriculum for the places we travel to. We can participate in educational tours and use travel as a very deliberate teaching tool. We’re still trying to decide whether we have the skills to leverage all of this to provide a better education than participating in traditional school or if the social benefits of school are stronger. Oh, decisions decisions. What would you do?
Watching kids grow up
I’m the luckiest dad ever. I get to spend my days hanging out with our little guys, reading books, going to the beach, making art together, talking with marine scientists at the aquarium… I’ve got the best life I could imagine. The kids are growing up faster than we realize though; they’re changing and learning new things every day. They’re only going to be little for so long.
There is for sure value in putting the kids into school, but it’s a tough call. Being in school, kids are interacting with all kind of other little people, and many might not have the best behavior or manners. Gallivanting around the globe, the kids get to meet people who are all about courtesy (and cranky people too, I guess). Even at this young age, Oliver has noticed that people when we’re traveling are extra nice and thoughtful. I feel like that’s the example I want them to learn from: a whole world of different people and customs, helping to form the kids as they grow.
Traveling with kids over the years has become increasingly important in shaping how they look at the world when we’re at home, from their flexibility to their ability to observe and learn about life. Travel has only been great for them even this early in life. Gosh, it’s just such a tough call since we’ve already seen the value and impact of travel.
Observation: we frequently return to certain destination with the kids and being able to do that over the years, we’ve seen how the interest level grows. Why should we tame that interest or slow it by starting school in a building?
Sending kids to school for the first time
Since we haven’t had to send off either of the boys to school yet we don’t know what it will be like, for either us or them. We went ahead and asked our friends and family how they feel about the first day of school and their thoughts. We were so glad to get some wonderful responses, so we’re sharing them.
From my sister, Dawn, about having all three kids in school now and the gambit of emotions that go with life, especially as they also face having a child with cancer:
Sometimes the emotions are about having a kid that can’t go to school, who isn’t even well enough to see them off. And for us that meant putting our daughter on the bus for her first day of kindergarten while our youngest was in bed, instead of getting to walk her in.
This was our last day of school from 2015. It is my favorite picture of the four of us. There are few things more special than having all three kids at the same school, in the same hall. It is such a great feeling to see them excited to see each other and jumping at the chance to take care of their siblings. That’s one of my favorite things about school, how they step up for each other because their parents aren’t there.
I love seeing how excited they are! But of course when I walk back inside the house is eerily quiet and I miss them. But once I grab my breakfast and sit down by the window, I’m pumped for some Mommy time!
From Shoba, writer of Just Go Places travel blog:
My daughter’s first day of school ever (left). She was 3 years old and heading off to Nursery (which is considered school here in England). This was the smallest uniform we could find but it still swamped her. She loved her hat because it reminded her of the hats Madeline wore in the Madeline books.
My son’s first day of school ever (right). He too was three years old. He refused to wear his school tie. All the other boys did but clearly their mothers had more control than I did. How did I feel? I felt a bit bereft. For the first three years of their life, I was part of their every day. I knew what they ate, who their friends were etc. Now they were off to make memories that didn’t include me. I prayed the world would be kind to them without me to act as a buffer.
From Misty, a long time friend:
This was my daughter (3yrs ago) for first/last day of Kindergarten. I cried like a baby after I dropped her off. More for the fact that she was no longer “protected” per se and would now be going into big world and exposed to all of it; the good/bad/ugly.
From Cori, one of our closest framily members (that’s not a typo):
First day of 4th grade. Excited for the new year, but can’t believe how fast time goes.
From Kevin, one of the two parent writers of the Wandering Wagars travel blog:
Sending our boys to school for the first time was an emotional rollercoaster. We were so proud to watch them grow up and mature, make new friends and discover new horizons, but it also included the ever present crush of knowing your babies are growing up and time is flying faster than you can imagine. We dealt with the tears of saying goodbye and the constant return for more hugs with both of them, but watching them grow and learn with each new day always brings a smile to our faces.
From Kelly, another member of our framily (still not a typo):
It’s not a first or last day of school picture, but I got this one the day before the first day of kindergarten (left). Our last morning to snuggle for a while. And then it’s already first grade, ready to rock! (right)
Life is pretty short. Yes, there are times when it seems like the days just drag on, but they don’t really. We’re going to use every moment possible to enjoy being with the kids and educating them one way or another. Each of our parent friends who share with us daily the hoorays and woes of sending kids off to school give us more and more to think about.
I’m sure we have a lot more talking to do about sending the kids off to school and we’ll probably waffle back and forth until September hits again. We’ll talk through our decision a thousand times, we’ll talk with the kids about it, we’ll figure out what’s right for them and what we hope to achieve in their development. Really, it’ll be emotional and well thought whichever path we choose. Things will all work out how they’re supposed to though because that’s just how we operate as a family and our kids will grow and learn just the same.
Rob Taylor is the founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog. Focusing on ecotourism and education, 2TravelDads inspires LGBT families (and traditional families also) to go beyond their usual getaways and use travel to learn about and be part of a bigger world. “Traveling the globe and giving the kids a broad worldview.”