‘Worldschooling’ parents educate kids by taking them around the world

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  • After struggling to find a school with the right ‘fit’, two parents have decided to opt out of traditional school education for their kids, and travel the world with their little ones instead.

    Since early 2015, Caroline and Paul King, along with their sons Winston and Henry, have visited 35 countries. Alongside shorter stays in other places, the Kings have stayed in Bali for three months, in Italy for a month, in Borneo for two weeks, and in Egypt for six weeks.

    Caroline, 35, and Paul, 39, lived in Sweden where Caroline is from for nine years, but realised they needed to leave when they had difficulty finding a school that would suit what they needed for their eldest son’s education.

    Image: Caroline King

    They found the Swedish school system ‘too restrictive’, saying to the Huffington Post, ‘We didn’t think it was ethical for our children to be forced to go to school when they didn’t want to and they were forced to learn things they already knew or didn’t want to learn.”

    ‘We started to teach our older son to read when he was one,’ Caroline told the Post.

    ‘In Sweden you learn the alphabet when you are seven so we were visiting maybe 20 schools and asking what will they do for Winston and their answer was: ‘He can read a book for the year above’.’

    Image: Caroline King

    The issue of taking time off from school was also difficult for the family, as they needed to travel for their cashmere, rug and hammock businesses.

    ‘We were also travelling for three to four months because we import cashmere, hammocks and rugs so we need to travel to the factories,’ said Caroline. ‘But the school wouldn’t allow us more than 10 days holiday per term. So we decided we had to leave Sweden.’

    In order to sever ties with Sweden, the family sold their large house and most of its contents, largely gifts that they felt they didn’t need. They travel with just one suitcase, weighing under 20kg, that contains some toys, basic items and the family’s laptops, Kindles and phones. They fund their trips with their businesses.

    Image: Caroline King

    Paul, from Cambridge, and Caroline call themselves ‘advocates of peaceful and attachment parenting,’ and try to embody this lifestyle in their everyday way of life.

    ‘We consider ourselves peaceful parents, which means we don’t use any force- we don’t hit the children and we try as much as we can to be respectful,’ explains Caroline.

    ‘Raising voices and things like that could affect them in the future so we don’t want to cause the stress. We’re trying to be as peaceful as possible.’

    With this approach, when Henry, their youngest, is traumatised or upset, Caroline breastfeeds him occasionally to try and comfort him.

    Paul and Caroline have said that their kids get to learn in many different ways, involving crafts, reading, and learning how to code. They’ve also witnessed geographical wonders firsthand, visiting places like the Giza pyramids that most children can only see in a textbook.

    Image: Caroline King

    ‘This year has been amazing, we’ve seen so many amazing places and been able to stay there long enough to actually see what normal life is like there,’ Paul told the Post.

    ‘In the countries that we go to, we do projects, so when we went to Pompeii we learnt all about how that happened and we visited pyramids in Egypt,’ said Caroline.

    ‘Instead of reading about it in a book the boys see it for real. So it’s much more interesting. I remember when I was in school I thought it was really boring to learn about the Romans. I was falling asleep at the table.

    ‘They get to meet a lot of children from different cultures and they are not afraid to talk to adults either.’

    Dad Paul told us that the kids ‘have got impressions of different cultures and seen tons of historical things and loads of wildlife. It’s quite a rounded education really.’

    The couple have said that if Winston, four, and Henry, six, want to go to school, they won’t stop them from doing so.

    ‘We talk a lot about school almost every day because we are interested and actually would like to find a school that fits with our beliefs we just haven’t found it yet,’ said Caroline.

    Image: Caroline King

    If you’re wondering how they manage to travel the world with two small children, they’ve said that they do so in a way that’s ‘quite unstructured.’ They seek out the cheapest flights, and decide where to go based on their three businesses and what the kids are interested in at the time.

    Caroline explained, ‘We have to be quite flexible and sometimes we have to try to fit things together, and it usually works out. One of us will have the children and one does the business side of things.’

    The Kings have ‘zero regrets’ about their lifestyle choice, and wish for others to do the same with their lives if they’re curious about it.

    ‘All the time people say: ‘Oh, we also want to do that’, we just tell them back, ‘So do it then’,’ said Caroline.

    ‘Then they come up with all these different excuses, whether it’s work or family, or they don’t have enough money or anything like that. But the truth is if you don’t just do it, then you are never going to do it!!’

    We asked about the family’s favourite destinations so far. Winston loved Borneo, ‘because of all the animals’, whereas his little brother Henry likes England the best, ‘at his friend’s house.’ And mum and dad? ‘I would say Prague… it’s cheap and western,’ says Paul, whereas Caroline’s favourite place is Bali.

    We also asked them the one place they’d settle down, if it ever came to it.

    ‘Maybe the USA.. but we would not get a permanent visa. There are so many homeschoolers there. In the realm of what’s possible, I would say Prague.. but we don’t intend to stop travelling yet, and we might find somewhere even better,’ says Paul.