These parents have been planning this educational adventure for years.
“World schooling” their two daughters, who are currently 12 and 8, has been on the minds of parents Sarah and Mike Blaine for many years, ever since they observed the changes being made in public schools. For Sarah, who is a former teacher, experiencing the changes and seeing how it affects her children has been a motivating factor behind deciding to take their daughters out of school for a whole year and provide them with a worldly education.
Though the decision was easy for her to make, she first needed to consult with her husband and, of course, New Jersey state laws on homeschooling and education for children her age. The parents began discussing the idea four years ago, but they committed to the idea three years ago after noticing a severe drop in social studies education in the post-No Child Left Behind world. When asked why they decided to embark on this trip, Sarah said,
“I was particularly frustrated by the fact that my older daughter was getting virtually zero social studies instruction at her elementary school, and the trip became an opportunity to ensure that our kids could learn the social studies they weren’t getting in school.” She added, “I wanted our kids to understand that their view of life is very much shaped by their community and family circumstances, and to deepen their empathy for people whose life experiences are different from their own.”
The Blaine family recognizes that they are incredibly fortunate enough to have been able to save for this long trip, and they plan to rent their house out while they’re gone to pay for the mortgage and taxes. They will quit their jobs, which Mike has wanted to do for some time because he plans to open his own law firm.
Their trip will start in July of this year and the first leg of it will be U.S.-based, as the family will travel via RV from their home and primarily through the Northern U.S. to visit tons of national parks. They’ll then drive all the way south through California and travel back to New Jersey from there, making sure to still stop in places like New Orleans. After the older daughter’s bat mitzvah in November, they will fly to Hawaii and then begin the international portion of their trip, starting in New Zealand and Australia. From there, they will go through countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Israel, and India, before entering Europe and making their way north as the weather gets warmer. Their itinerary centered around price, taking into account worldly affairs, and opportunity; the family was particularly bummed that they would not be able to visit any South African countries or Japan and China, but they plan to visit these locations in the future.
For the Blaine family, it didn’t make sense to only school their children on international cultures when there is so much to learn first in their own country, which is why they decided to place such a large emphasis on the states in the beginning months.
As for education, the girls will be putting together their own “history books” using binders and their collected works, memorabilia, research, and photos to help them organize their experiences and document what they learned from the trip. Additionally, they set up a website called “Blaine Voyage,” which you can follow here, so that all 4 family members can blog about their experiences.
“The lack of meaningful social studies education, the fact that my fourth grader never got the New Jersey-specific social studies curriculum I learned back in fourth grade…, and the test-prep style of my older daughter’s elementary curriculum all contributed to our decision to move the trip idea from a dream to a reality,” Sarah said. “I see how much more my kids learn from seeing and experiencing than they do from what even the best teachers can offer in school.”
In addition to social studies, the family plans to incorporate foreign language, science, math, language arts, and even music in their curriculum as well, going so far as to purchase a portable trumpet for their older daughter to practice with. This is such an awesome opportunity for the family, and hopefully they will have some valuable words of insight after their travels.