I’m very happy to meet another special family today, to continue our speach about homeschooling: the Miller family has been traveling full time for 6 years and educating their four children at the same time! How is it possible? Let’s check it together!
Hi Tony, nice to meet you!
Hi, we are the Miller Family: Tony & Jenn and our four children, Hannah (17), Gabe (16), Elisha (13), Ezra (11). We have been traveling full time for just over six years for the purpose of educating our children.
When did you decide to unschool your children? Why? There was a particular reason?
We are not unschoolers. Our children follow a carefully developed curriculum with high standards for their intellectual education. We decided not to send them to school before they were born. Jenn is a teacher and was unimpressed by what she experienced within the American school systems. We realized that we could give our children a better education, intellectually and socially, by not sending them to school.
Did your family/the society accept your choice? Did you find some difficulties at the beginning?
Our family has been very supportive. There were some bumps in the road early on with people who did not understand what we were doing or why, but as the children have grown and flourished the results have spoken for themselves. When our daughter began her university work two years earlier than her peers in public school, it was obvious that our approach was working well and producing quality results.
Tell me the positive aspects of your choice and the negatives…
There are pros and cons to every choice we make.
Our children are academically ahead of the game, they have had experiences, traveling, that no class room could ever provide for them and they are socially adept in ways that young people raised solely within their own culture cannot be.
I’m hard pressed to define solid negatives, because for us, there have been very few. I suppose we have not had the convenience of a local support group, the cost of all of their educational experiences and curriculum is paid by us instead of the state, and we have to work harder to ensure that everyone’s needs (intellectual, social and otherwise) are being met. Those aren’t exactly negatives, to our way of thinking, but a cost we’re willing to pay for the benefits.
How do you see your children? Which are the main impacts of this choice on them?
I see my children as independent souls passing through our lives for a time. We are privileged to birth and raise them and then release them into the world. They are not “ours” they are their own.
We have been a significant impact on our children because we choose to spend so much time together as a family, but we could not have done this job alone. We are not keeping our kids out of school to limit them socially, it is exactly the opposite. We see school as an artificial social environment. Ask yourself, when do you ever spend 8 hours a day, every day, with 20-30 people of exactly your own age and experience, except in school? That cannot be a good preparation, socially, for living in the real world, which is diverse in age, experience, culture, language and more.
Instead of preparing our kids for the real world by sequestering them in an artificial environment like school, we decided to let our kids grow up in the real world. Their teachers have been children, and grandparents, fellow travelers, experts in their fields, and people passionate about their subjects. In this way, they have grown comfortable interacting with a broad spectrum of humanity and they are developing their own place in the larger world. They are not intimidated by the world, they are part of it.
Describe me a tipical day in your life
In spite of our lifestyle of travel, we have order to our days. In general, mornings are for working and schooling. Afternoons are for life and adventures. The children are in control of their own schooling schedules and so long as they are getting their work done on time I don’t interfere with their preferred process. We organize our studies around the places that we are traveling through and focus much of our history, literature and geography on what is right outside our front door at the time.
Projects for the future
Our children will all attend university. We view this as an important capstone for their basic education and entrance to adult life. Our daughter has been working on her undergraduate classes part time for the past two years. In another year or so she’ll transfer those credits to a university in Canada to finish up. Our oldest son will begin his university work later this year. Our daughter is working on her TESL accreditation and intends to continue traveling and working as she goes. She’s also working online as a freelance writer and editor. Our oldest son intends to circumnavigate, he’s a sailor, when he’s finished with his schooling. Our teens have spent this summer working or traveling on their own. The boys have jobs in the midwestern USA (in different places). Hannah is headed off backpacking in Europe with a friend.
I wouldn’t project who or what my children will be or do in the next ten years. That is up to them, entirely. It is my job to make sure that they’ve had the best start in life that I can give them and that they are prepared to tackle whatever passion they have and whatever work presents itself to them to do.
Travel is essential to a well rounded education. Travel is a fantastic teacher. Travel is an introduction to the real world. Travel is mind broadening and heart deepening. Travel is a gift to one’s self and to the world. Travel is life.
Jenn has written much on the topics of education and travel. To read more you can visit our website: The Edventure Project
Milly and Tony
(Photo credits: The Edventure Project)
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Italian abstract of the interview
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Tropical islands with children