Many people may not understand the life of a Wandering Mom and why we’re so willing to “pull our kids out of school” so they can traipse about the globe with us. For us, travel is more than just a vacation. It’s an opportunity to expose our children to a world they can’t experience in a book or on a TV screen.
For Wandering Moms, travel enhances the learning experience.
Think about the history, math, and science lessons our children learn in school from elementary all the way through high school. Now, imagine them being IN those lessons!
Immersion aides learning far more than repetition does. When our children are immersed in the lesson, it’s not just something they recite and write down. It becomes something they have experienced for themselves.
10 Academically Enriching World Schooling Lessons
1. Anne Frank Museum, Amsterdam Netherlands
The Holocaust is a staple in US school’s History curriculum and most, if all of our students, are required at some point to read The Diary of Anne Frank.
I recall this being a very moving story, one I could not even imagine being real. When many of us read it, we were about the same age as Anne when she and her family went into hiding.
In 2016, my daughter traveled the world with me for a year, so she missed out on the school assignment to read the Diary of Anne Frank. But since I knew we would be visiting Amsterdam, I thought it may be a good idea for her to read the book prior to our visit.
I’m so glad I did. When I took her to visit the house that the Franks were living in, the book and history came to life for her. She guided me through Anne’s room telling me where all of Anne’s furniture was when she lived there based on what she had read in the book. She got to see the roof where Anne would play, the kitchen and living room where her family would gather, even the secret bookshelf door that camouflaged their hiding place. What was most endearing about this visit was her getting the chance to see Anne’s actual diary in her actual handwriting.
This lesson and this history is now solidified in her mind in a way it may not have been had she just been reading the book and completing quizzes and tests on it in school.
2. Mayan Ruins, Chichen Itza, Mexico
History, Social Studies, Math
Chichen Itza is one of the wonders of the world and after visiting, I completely understand why. The structure acts as a calendar and there are so many aspects of it that are math related. It’s fascinating!
There’s also the super cool experiment of standing on one end of the large field and having someone stand on the other end which is about 500 ft away and saying something in your normal voice and the other person hearing it as if you were standing next to them! It’s so darn cool. It’s this way because of the way the walls were built with bricks increasing in size and the wall being built at a slight angle.
This just might be the coolest math lesson I have ever had, and I love math!
3. Harrison’s Cave in Bridgetown, Barbados
In school, science was my least favorite subject. It wasn’t hard, I just found it boring. I totally remember my eyes glazing over when we started the lessons on tectonic plates and the layers of the earth. I also remember being equally disinterested when my daughter started that lesson herself. The only time I recall this being super cool was when I visited Harrison’s Cave in Bridgetown, Barbados.
The cave is still active as it’s stalagmites (those mounds coming up from the cave floor that make it look so cool) are still growing).
4. Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa
Mandela is one of the most prolific historical figures of our time. A man who fought for equality and justice until the very end. A man who was imprisoned for 27 years, released, and voted to be President of South Africa in the country’s very first democratic election.
Visiting Cape Town, you’ll experience one of the most beautiful cities you’ve ever seen. But a short boat ride to Robben Island will juxtapose you into one of the ugliest mistakes the country ever made. Imprisoning a man who only wanted equality during Apartheid.
You’ll see the jail cell the Mandela was relegated to and be overwhelmed with the sacrifice and fortitude of this man and what he believed to be his purpose.
5. Machu Picchu in Peru
Agriculture, Engineering, History, Social Studies
The Mayans were pretty incredible architects. Hiding from the Spaniards who were invading their lands, they “took to the hills” so to speak, building secret passage ways and entire villages in the mountains.
Machu Picchu happens to be the tallest mountain in South America. If you’re super adventurous, you can hike the mountain or if an epic hike isn’t quite your style, you can catch the bus to the top to experience first hand how the Mayans lived and worked. It’s a piece of living history you won’t soon forget!
6. Rome, Italy
History, Political Science
Rome is known to be the earliest democracy and our US government is modeled after it. There is no way your kids are escaping learning about the Romans in some form or fashion no matter what grade they’re in! Lessons on the great Coliseum, the games, the philosophers, the wars, and the political structure will be sprinkled throughout their tenure in school.
But why stop there when you can GO THERE? There is so much to soak in on a visit to Rome.
Exploring Rome allows you to step back in time and experience history in ways that go far beyond the pages of a book. No matter how old your children are, there are so many things for them to see and do in Rome that will enhance the things they are learning in school history.
7. Barrier Reef in Belize
Anyone remember the acronym King Phillip C Order Grape Soda? It was supposed to help us remember Kingdom, Phyllum, Class, Order, Genus, Species – the way animals are all classified, remember that?
I remember enjoying the lessons around understanding different types of animals, what they had in common, and their innate abilities. The most interesting of them all were the animals that lived in and around the sea. There were just so many types and they basically had their own ecoosystem – their own world. But I learned it through the pages of a book. Could you imagine getting the chance to see some of these animals up close?
Taking a snorkeling or diving tour of the Belize Barrier Reef allows you to experience this world first hand. You can learn about the different plants, animals and ecosystems that make up the reef as well as learn about the impact humans are having on these delicate ecosystems around the world.
8. Pyramids in Egypt
History, Culture, Engineering
The Pyramids are some of the most impressive human achievements in history. The pyramids aren’t just a cool place to grab a cheeky photo kissing the sphinx. They serve as the backdrop for an immersion lesson on engineering, history and culture. Visiting the pyramids in Egypt will allow you to surround yourself with these incredibly important history lessons.
These are history lessons your children will encounter more than a few times throughout their matriculation through school. Imagine the teacher showing photos and videos of the pyramids to teach the class and your child is actually in those photos and videos! Now how cool would that be?!
Earth Space Science
I remember being in grade school reading one a fiction book about two kids hanging out in the summer and one of them was talking about how badly she wanted to see the Aurora Bueralis. I had no idea what that was at the time, but it sounded so cool that I never forgot it. As an adult, i know that she was referring to what we call the “Northern Lights” which tourists flock to see every year in Iceland.
One day out of the blue, my daughter asked me if I would take her to see the Northern Lights. We haven’t made it there yet but you bet we’ll be going to check them out someday!
The Northern Lights is definitely a memorable experience, one unlike any other phenomena on Earth.
According to the scientific explanation, Aurora is the dazzling end result of a series of events that begin at the Sun. The lights are caused by collisions between electrically charged particles coming from the Sun as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn all experience auroras as well.
I gotta say, this is one science lesson that’s WAY cooler in person.
10. Medellin, Colombia
Many of us had to suffer through learning Spanish or French in high school. When I was in school, those-along with Latin- were the only options for foreign languages. And who in the heck wanted to learn Latin? (Actually one of my friends took Latin just so she could rock out the SATs).
It’s a travesty that we wait so late to introduce foreign languages in US schools. There are so many studies that show the academic benefits of speaking multiple languages at an early age. I believe many schools are starting to come around and offer lessons on foreign language much earlier.
But what better way to learn and or practice another language than to speak it with native speakers?
Being in Medellin for four whole months absolutely helped expand mine and my daughter’s use of the Spanish language. My daughter understands more than she speaks and I now speak it much more fluently after having to interact in Spanish on a daily basis for four months.
Even if you can’t get away for months at a time, spending a few days in a foreign country practicing speaking and hearing the language can take your kid a very long way and give them more confidence.