World Schooling: An Educational Adventure

One family’s commitment to learning led them on a year-long educational adventure around the world.

For Sarah and Mike, the idea began about five years ago: what if they spent a year traveling the world with their daughters, Elizabeth, 13, and Julianna, 9? What if they could give their daughters the opportunity to learn about science, history, art, and culture—to embrace a unique and fully immersive approach to active learning—by exploring the world?

After significant preparation and research, this family of four from New Jersey set out to make their girls’ 2017-2018 academic year a year like no other. Their trip began with a four-month, 18,000-mile exploration of the United States and Canada, where their environment helped shape their study of geography, natural science, history, and culture. One highlight, as Elizabeth described for American Girl magazine, was the connection she felt with American history:

study of geography, natural science, history, and culture

My dad gives good history lessons. Standing in these different places, I started to like learning about history more and more. I guess it’s easier to respect and understand it when you’re actually in the places where the history happened. Now, I hope to be a history teacher one day.

The international part of their journey

The international part of their journey began in Australia and New Zealand, where they maintained the rigorous schedule they adopted during the first part of their trip: schoolwork filled their mornings, and their afternoons were dedicated to exploring their surroundings. From there they traveled northward, where they visited Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam; westward, to Israel; across the Mediterranean to Europe; and on to the UK. For Julianna, an aspiring marine biologist, the trips to so many of the world’s oceans and aquariums left a lasting impression:

World schooling gave me the chance to learn about and see things I couldn’t have experienced at home. Like spending time at Acadia National Park in Maine. The water was really cold, but we investigated all kinds of new things, like leeches, sea snails, barnacles, and crabs. On the other side of the world, I met a platypus and saw fish, coral, and even a sea anemone in the ocean. It was fun to see them in their natural habitat.

School friends on tour

Photo: the Blaine Family

Their school year now complete, the family returned home during the summer of 2018—with a richer understanding of their world, the people in it, and each other. Says Elizabeth, “It’s great to be home, but I miss our trip. These days, when I hear someone mention the ‘other side of the world,’ it doesn’t seem quite so far away.”

You can read more about their year traveling and learning at home and abroad—and see a few of their more than 20,000 photos!—in the September/October 2018 issue of American Girl magazine and by visiting Blaine Voyage.

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