A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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I didn’t know what to say as a fellow parent pressed her point.

“You’ll be putting your kids at a great disadvantage, you know, pulling them out of school for a year. What’s it going to do to your daughter’s transcript when she applies to college?”

Well. I had to admit I hadn’t thought about that. School was an issue we needed to figure out.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, there is a well-worn path to success that leads through demanding private schools or public school magnet programs, SAT prep classes and extensive college application engineering.

There’s little time for just being a kid, not when there’s another advanced placement class, enrichment activity or volunteer opportunity to add to the resume.

Given its reputation as having one of the best public school systems in the country, I was surprised and pleased to find Montgomery County was rather broad-minded about homeschooling.

Aside from the hole in our daughter’s transcript, Dani and I felt we could figure out a way to make homeschooling roadschooling work and ultimately our kids would be able to graduate high school with their peers.

As we began to investigate how to do it, we were amazed at the educational resources available on the Internet. From Indian tutors online to free college lectures, there was no shortage of educational materials that would allow us to focus on the places we planned to visit.

As in everything we’re doing to prepare for our trip, we’re trying to learn from the families who’ve gone before us.

The Andrus family taught four kids on the road. This blog post from their time in Turkey demonstrates the power of a place as a teaching tool. John and September Higham created an impressive educational program for their two children, including a reading list that focused on the countries they visited. Is there a better way to bring a place and a book to life?

These are just two examples of the creative ways families have integrated education with their travels. But while educational opportunities on the road may be endless, bureaucracies at home are too.

In order to make the transition in and out of our school system easier, we decided to work with The Learning Community International, an educational organization that is registered as a private school in Maryland. TLCI works with homeschooling families to ensure they meet all state educational requirements.

(Note: TLCI can work with families and school systems in other jurisdictions, depending on local laws).

Our big concern remains teaching math, a subject Dani and I would rather forget existed. But once again Internet resources are impressive, starting with Math.com. Our own school system produces math podcasts featuring The Math Dude.

If our kids never completed a single “school” assignment while we were traveling what would be lost? There is so much to be learned observing and appreciating how others live, what they think, what they value.

Makes that hole in the transcript look rather small.


Update (March 20, 2008): Turns out we won’t be working with the Learning Community International after all, and I cannot recommend them to others.

Months ago, when Dani first spoke to Manfred Smith at LCI, he was very encouraging and supportive of our trip, and full of ideas for home schooling on the road. He told us to contact him in early spring to begin working on an education plan.

Dani called him recently and felt she was talking to a different person. His attitude had decidedly soured, he didn’t want to discuss a program for us and didn’t want to meet with us until we had a letter from our school system saying they would accept his transcript.

Maybe he was having a bad day.

We are actively pursuing some other promising alternatives and will update this post when we have more information to share.


1 Jill Hershberger { 12.05.07 at 5:05 am }

Hey, you guys! I am totally, totally, in support of this, particularly since I know what a range of assets you bring to this endeavor. You are far-thinking and really in touch with what is important. Actually, what may be as important as the exposure to a variety of cultures is the close encounter as a family. It will definitely be an experience to be treasured, both the dark and the light, for the rest of all of your lives. xxxx

2 Jon Melzer { 12.05.07 at 4:33 pm }

I think this is probably one of the best experiences a parent could hope to offer. Not that this is really the goal here – but what could possibly look better on a college application??

3 Cristi { 01.01.08 at 12:31 pm }

I only wish I had parents as open-minded as you two growing up. Travelling is enrichment in and of itself, not only to expose children to the vast world around them but to deal with hardships in stride, learn a little about the “art” of inconvenience, befriend strangers, and create an experience they will cherish long after it has passed. Children at a young age are particularly adaptable and learn languages rather quickly as well. One of the coolest 8-year olds I’ve ever met (Lima, Peru) was a daughter on the heels of a well-travelled Aussie. We talked for at least an hour and not once did I have to endure child-level topics.

I’d recommend reading some Dervla Murphy novels since she went above and beyond taking her child on “vacation” but instead travelled through Pakistan in the 70s (?) amongst other destinations generally “not suited for children”. If you need further defense, imagine the ammo you are providing to your children to pen some of the most original College entry essays, which almost always involve an in-depth review of life experiences.

Cristi @ A Novel Path

4 Melissa Rhinolegs { 04.17.08 at 3:30 pm }

I second John’s comment — far from creating a “hole” in a transcript, this experience is sure to enrich and expand the kids’ lives and educations. What school in their right mind could possibly see that as a disadvantage??!

Anyway, as a thirty-year-old who has experienced wanderlust and also is contemplating starting a family that I’d like to expose to all the world has to offer, I’m inspired by your trip, and look forward to following you in your travels. Best of luck to all of you!

5 John Higham { 06.17.08 at 9:45 pm }

Hi Craig,

Been dropping in from time to time and thought I’d weigh in on this conversation. After our around the world trip our kids returned to “regular school,” staying with their peers, and didn’t miss a beat.

We simply stuck to the three R’s: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

We decided that math needed to be formally taught or else the kids would be at a disadvantage when they returned to school. We got workbooks for their grade level and brought them with us and we did math without fail 6 days a week.

For writing we made the kids keep a journal.

For reading, we selected age appropriate books that had some link to where we would be. Our daughter Katrina read over 100 books during our 52 weeks on the road. The year after we got back, she read 3 books for pleasure, outside of what was assigned at school. Pathetic, eh? Here is Katrina’s book list:


I just sold the rights to the book I wrote about our year, and it should be on newsstands by the time you return.

In the meantime, we will be (jealously) following you over your year.


John Higham

6 Gordon R. Vaughan { 06.29.08 at 2:18 pm }

Hi Craig, I just added you back on Twitter. There’s a huge amount of homeschooling/roadschooling resources available nowadays, and plenty is online, too. You might want to get a few texts and supplies before you head out, and supplement that with the wealth of stuff online.

I haven’t had time to read your blog yet, so maybe it’s just this post, but I wouldn’t be the least bit apologetic education-wise. Your kids will learn far more in a trip around the world than they’d ever get in a classroom! Some ivy-league colleges are even talking about requiring study abroad. Americans need a broader perspective.

BTW, I posted a tweet a while back about “yachtschooling”, which you might want to check out. Apparently there’s really quite a few families doing this! The link is http://tinyurl.com/3yjxdr

Have a great trip!

7 Roadschooling Too — The Wide Wide World { 07.09.08 at 1:57 am }

[…] we last discussed the issue of roadschooling, we were considering working with Learning Community International, a […]

8 Jeanne Levy { 07.09.08 at 10:44 am }

What a great future/present/past you are building for your kids. The only “problem” I see in their future education program, regarding transcripts with “holes,” is the envy others might feel at the fantastic opportunity and additional, hard-to-come-by education your child got.

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