Connecting Families Traveling the World’s Classroom
By CJ Singer
My family and I have been traveling full-time for three years, mainly by house-sitting across the country. This year our New Year’s resolution (though I really don’t like the idea of New Year’s resolutions) was to add some stamps in our passports.
When you set ideas into motion the universe usually helps you out, and as fate would have it we found an eight-month house-sit on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Thirty days after accepting the house-sit, we drove ~3,000 miles from Boston to Melaque, Mexico.
We overcame our fears (turns out that not everything you see and hear on TV represents reality) and arrived on the dirt roads of a sleepy little Mexican beach town. It was beautiful! We had amazing views of the ocean, the beach at our doorstep and the best (and least expensive) tacos we’ve ever had.
There are not too many expats in this part of Mexico, at least not during the summer months when the predominantly Canadian snowbirds retreat back to Canada to escape the heat. However, we did meet a Canadian family with kids around the same age and we quickly became friends, spending most days together, playing soccer, hiking and swimming in our pool. After about a month it was time for them to head back to their lives in Canada and we were the lone Gringos in the Mexican sun. I had made a few attempts to find other traveling families near us using Facebook groups, but mostly just heard crickets.
This is where Worldschooler Connect was born. My wife and I wished that we had a map of the world that showed all the Worldschooling families and their current locations. We dug around on the internet and found a few tools, but not exactly what we were looking for and most focused on backpacking young adults rather than families.
I sat on the idea for a good month, re-kindling it when I was put on the Hot Seat of my weekly MasterMind group, a group for location independent nomads to bounce ideas off one another and pick the brains of fellow nomads to launch or improve our business ideas. The Worldschooler Connect pitch went extremely well and motivated me to actually move forward with the idea. Well that and my kids really, really could use it!
So, after four months of obsession, thinking, building and re-building three times, on November 1st we launched Worldschooler Connect. Now full time traveling families have a tool to find one another all over the globe.
We’re a long way from knowing if the site will be a “real” success, but I’ve already met families using the site, and for me that is a success. We built this site because we needed it, not because we were looking for a business, though we would like nothing more than to turn this into something great. Building the technology was a tremendous accomplishment, but at the end of the day building the site wasn’t the true mission–our goal is connecting kids and their families around the globe.
I hope that families and their kids are able to find others for meet ups, play dates and adventure. I hope that kids are able to meet and make real connections and relationships that last forever. If we can make one long-term friendship out of launching this site then all the long hours of building it will be worth it.
If you’re a full-time traveling family, or just interested in meeting families traveling through your community, then create a free account today. You will be able to see who is currently near you, direct message them, meet up and then post a picture of your meet-up on Instagram with hashtag #WorldschoolerConnect.
Worldschooling our kids has been the most rewarding, educational and downright coolest decision we have ever made. We’ve learned that everything we do and see in life is a learning experience. For instance, we have learned by visiting famous sites, like Daily Plaza in Dallas, Texas, which inspired our son to research on his own the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We drove by an active volcano in Colima, Mexico, and the next day we were in a 5.1 magnitude Earthquake, inspiring our daughter to investigate both natural disasters, again on her own.
We have now seen most of the U.S. and a good part of Mexico. Where do we go next? Well, we’re not really sure, but the short answer is anywhere we want to and now we have a tool to find families anywhere we decide to go.
This blog is part of our “Place-Based Education” blog series. To learn more and contribute a guest post for the series, check out the PBE campaign page. Join in the conversation on social media using #PlaceBasedEd. For more on Place-Based Education see:
- Parenting, Learning and The Power of Place
- America’s Best Idea and America’s Best Classroom
- Place-Based Learning: Wherever You Are, Whenever You Go
- Place-Based Discoveries Etch Learning Into Your Brain
CJ Singer is ¼ of the Traveling Chimps, a full time traveling family of four, and the creator of Worldschooler Connect. Follow him on Twitter: @Worldschooler.
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