Our eldest son was due to start school a year ago, but we didn’t feel he was quite ready for the classroom. He’s an August baby, so very young for his age group, and with all the Covid restrictions in place last September my husband and I just felt it was wrong. So we started homeschooling him, thinking it would be for just a couple of months. Then we fell in love with it.
It was going so well that we decided to carry on teaching him ourselves throughout what would have been his Reception year. We did this both at home in Solihull, in the West Midlands, and also while travelling through different parts of the country. When Covid restrictions permitted, we worked our way through the Cotswolds, Bath, Norfolk, the Lake District and Northumbria. We stayed in Airbnbs, lodges and hotels, and ensured our now-five-year-old son and his three-year-old sister were out and about in nature as much as possible.
My husband and I run our own children’s music education business, Music Monsters, which means we can work remotely for the most part. I’m 31 and my husband is 33, and neither of us had done much travelling before. We didn’t actually place a great deal of value on travel until the pandemic arrived and meant we could no longer go anywhere. As it did for so many people, being stuck at home opened our eyes to the fact that life is truly for living. It also opened our eyes to the number of families who, like us, have chosen a different kind of education for their children.
That’s how we stumbled across the idea of worldschooling our children – keeping them out of mainstream schools and showing them as many countries as we can. This isn’t a vague aspiration. Our third child is due in October and next spring we hope to take all three on a month-long journey around Italy. The plan is to spend a week on the coast in the north, two weeks touring Rome, Pisa, Florence and Sicily, and then perhaps ending up at Lake Garda for a week. We’ll hop between Airbnbs in the cities and out in the countryside we have found a family-run vineyard where we can immerse ourselves in the culture.
It will be more than a holiday. Our son, who would otherwise have been starting in Year One this term, will learn about Italy’s rich musical history while we are there. He’ll absorb other knowledge naturally, learning through experience rather than in a classroom. The journey will also inform our own teaching; we plan to fill our Music Monster classes with the music we discover.
We’ve never travelled with a baby before, but we have big ambitions for future trips after this one. Covid willing, we’d like to go further afield to Bali and Australia. We want to live life well and show our children how you can make your own fun, enjoyment and education. These are the values and beliefs we hope to instil in them. We’re thinking of alternating one month away with one month back in Solihull. We want to keep our base here but not be restricted by it – it feels like an exciting new form of freedom.
I know the idea of living like this is not a mainstream one. When I tell other people, they sometimes worry whether it’s sustainable long-term. Some naturally recoil at the thought of travelling with three young children. But most have been very supportive and have even told us they wish they could do the same.
There’s an active community of other families doing just this online, so we can see what’s possible. But we haven’t actually told our children yet, as life under Covid is still too unpredictable. All we can do is take each term and trip as it comes.
As told to Rosa Silverman