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10 Reasons Why You should Travel With Your Kids Even If They Won’t Remember

why you should travel with your kids even if they won't remember it

If you are considering a trip and aren’t sure whether you should bring the kids or not then let me help you decide with a little personal insight.

“Why bother travelling with young children? They won’t remember their travels anyways!

“It’s too much work to travel with kids, besides they won’t appreciate it!”

These are just some of the sad things I’ve heard people say about travelling with children.

My response is, you don’t know what you are missing and if you truly believe this than you are missing the whole point of travelling with children.

Consider the following statements.

“Don’t read to your child or hold your baby as much as possible because he or she won’t remember” .

“Don’t spend time with your kids when it’s inconvenient, they won’t appreciate it anyways”.

Ridiculous right?

I think it’s ridiculous when people say that they don’t want to travel with their kids because it’s too hard or because they won’t remember.

Travel with kids for me is not necessarily about giving them a  memory or doing it when it is convenient. It’s about giving them an experience. After all, experiences are the building blocks that make us who we are whether we remember them all or not.

10 reasons I travel with my kids and how I think it has changed our lives.

1- Travel Can Help Broaden The Horizons of Your Children.

1- Travel Can Help Your Kids Understand and Accept that there is no one way to do something.

One of the many reasons I love to travel is because it teaches me about the different ways that people live and do things. For my children this translates to them understanding that there is no one single way or right way to do some things.

Consider the simple act of what to eat for breakfast on a trip to.. um  ….. China?

If your kids are used to eating eggs and toast, imagine how eye opening and different it will be for them to eat something foreign like rice porridge or Chinese donuts for breakfast. My kids love eating this for breakfast by the way. I have been exposing them to different foods through travel since they were born.

Food is just one example of how travel can expose your kids to different ways of doing common everyday things.

Photo via Flickr from Brett

2-Traveling With Kids Expands, alters and stretches their little minds.

Traveling With Kids Expands, alters and stretches their little minds.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see my kids step outside of their comfort zone and be more willing to try new things.

Just by the nature of travel, your children can easily learn to stretch themselves and experience things outside of their everyday life and comfort zone. Each time they do this, they will gain the confidence to push themselves further and further even when they are not travelling.

3- Travelling Helps Kids Become Great Little Travellers.

Travelling Helps Kids Become Great Little Travellers.

The younger your kids are when you start travelling with them, the faster they become better travel companions.

All three of my kids are used to travelling. They learned from an early age what to expect, what to do and what not to do.

It doesn’t take years of training either.  Even if you only go on one trip a year, they will learn to become good travellers quickly.

My youngest child was already a great traveller by one year old because we started taking her on road trips at 11 days old. By the time she was 9 months old, she didn’t even cry on her first international trip to France.

4- Travelling helps kids learn to acclimate and adapt to change.

Travelling helps kids learn to acclimate and adapt to change

Sure stability and keeping a schedule is great for your kids but so is change. Travelling with your kids is a natural and easy way to help them learn to deal with change.

5-Travel Can uncover your children’s hidden interests.

Travel Can uncover your children’s hidden interests.

One of my sons has discovered through travel that he loves art and loves to draw. Sure he could have discovered these things on his own but travelling put us in museums and surrounded by ancient works of arts that gave him that initial spark.

6- Kids Can Let Loose and be themselves.

Kids Can Let Loose and be themselves

When your kids travel, they get to explore a side of themselves outside of their everyday life. They get to let down their guard, have fun and be themselves.  

7-You Will Create And Cherish Lifelong Memories

-You Will Create Cherish Lifelong Memories Together

It stands to reason that all the good times we have travelling together are memories i will cherish. You may be surprised to know that some of my fondest memories of travel were actually of times when we were the most stressed.

Like losing one of my sons in Nice France for 3 hours and freaking out only to find him hours later and just being happy is was safe.

Or realizing that our huge American stroller was not going to fit in most restaurants.

Changing diapers on the grass in front of the Eiffel tower after searching for a bathroom that was free for over an hour.

Convincing our kids to eat some new foods and putting up with all their whining.

These are all memories I will keep for the rest of my life and laugh about too.

8- You will see the world in a whole new way.

 You will see the world in a whole new way

Travelling with your children let’s you see even the simplest of things in a whole new way. Sometimes it’s a useful reminder of how wonderfully strange some things are, particularly when you see them again through fresh eyes.

9-It’s Easier To Travel When Your Kids Are Younger: You don’t have to wait until they are older

It's Easier To Travel Wen Your Kids Are Younger: So You don’t have to wait

I have travelled with all three of my kids from birth. **My oldest is now almost 17 ( at the time of this writing 2013).

I have spent countless hours with each of my kids either attached to my back in a sling or sitting in a stroller while we travelled.

So trust me when I say this but you don’t have to wait until the kids are older to travel. In many ways, it can actually be easier and better to travel when the kids are younger.

Kids are amazingly flexible and resilient if you only give them a chance. They can sleep almost anywhere.  Everything fascinates them. They will and can eat almost anything and they don’t give you attitude like a grumpy teenager.

All you need is a sling or a stroller and you are set to go. Don’t forget the diapers and a few snacks too. You have the added bonus of raising children who adapt easily to change and creating good travel companions for both far and near travel.

10-Travel is a fun bonding opportunity.

Travel is a fun bonding opportunity

We are all so busy through out the year. Travelling on a vacation is often one of the best if not the only times we actually get to spend quality time with our kids.

Our kids get to see us in a fun and new environment. We get to loosen up on the rules and everyone gets to spend quality time together.

What Do You think?

Our Family in Le Pradet France in 2013

I don’t want you to think that travelling with kids is all rosy rainbows and unicorns.

There are definitely a lot of downsides to travelling with kids. It’s hard, stressful and can be expensive for example.

However; it’s totally worth it. The unexpected joys of travelling with children far outweigh any negatives for me.

Don’t take my word for it. Below are over a dozen articles written by other families who travel with kids who also think that travelling with children is worth it.

**NOTE: When I mention travel in this article, I realize that money may be a limitation. To reap the benefits of travel with kids you could opt for travelling to places closer to home. The next town, state or province. Just as long as it’s somewhere new and different and you all are together. 

Other Articles From Families Who Travel

Mary from Bohemian travelers

Nancy from Family on Bikes

Catherine Forest from Catherine et les fées

Alisa from Living Outside of the Box

Melissa from Break Out of Bushwick

Bethaney from Flashpacker Family

Jenn Miller from the edventure project

Kris Herwig from Simon Says – Traveling With Tots: The World is My Playground

Heather Costaras from Living Differently –

Kalli from Portable Professionals

Kirsty from Barts go Adventuring

Jenni from Witness Humanity (link coming)

Anne from The Journey is the Reward

Laurel from Capturing la Vita (Link coming)

Sharon from Where’s Sharon –

ME:Annie: from Practical Adventurology – Why You Should Travel With Kids Even If They Won’t Remember

Lainie from Raising Miro on the Road of Life (and Aimee from Suitcases and Strollers):

Heaven or Hell? A Day At The Beach In The South Of France With Kids (Photo Essay)

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet

You know that expression “ A Day At The Beach? ” It implies that something is easy or simple right?

We spent a day at the with our kids at a beach in Le Pradet in the South of France in the Winter. It should have been fun and easy but it wasn’t. To me that day at the  beach symbolizes what Life abroad can be like. Living in France isn’t going to magically make your children agreeable or enthusiastic about the same things you are enthusiastic about no matter how great you think it is. You just have to roll with the punches and move on.

Here is what we saw at our day at the beach.

We saw a boy on a unicycle playing the guitar and  we walked,  talked and took in the scenery.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet walking

We wore our galoshes.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet galoshes

We saw the tinyest Yacht Club ever

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet Club Nautique

It was cold and windy but we enjoyed the sounds of the Mediterranean Sea.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet looking towards Toulon

We looked around.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet looking around

We walked around

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet walking around

We wished we had Sea Kayaks.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet sea kayaking

But then the Moody Teenager emerged

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet grumpy kids

He did not like the day at the beach in the south of France

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet grumpy kids

So we decided to go home.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet Garonne bus stop

The air was thick with tension as we waited for the bus.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet Garonne bus stop

But we made it home and the grumpy teenager was happy again.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet sidewalk

That was “A day at the beach in the south of France” in the winter with our kids!

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet winter with kids

There is a lesson to be learned when travelling with other people

Things are not always black and white when you travel with other people.  “A DAY AT THE BEACH” is not always the proverbial “DAY AT THE BEACH”.
If the kids aren’t into it,  if the kids would rather be somewhere else doing something else…it can ruin an otherwise lovely time and a day at the beach can turn into a day in hell.

This was a true story:

In all fairness, my son Kieran isn’t always grumpy, I just wanted to make a point!  And In case you are wondering where we were, the beach is called “Plage De La Garonne” in a town called Le Pradet.  It’s a beautiful small beach town here in the south of France just five minutes on bike from where we live.  A great place to spend time or spend a year or more on your next career break or family sabbatical.
Here is a link to the office of tourism in Le pradet.

Getting permission from your ex to travel and live abroad

How To Travel or Live Abroad With Kids When Your Ex Says NO!

Getting Permission to travel or live abroad long term with kids: Me with my three kids at some random airport waiting for our next flight (2012).

So you want to travel or live abroad with your kids and expose them to other cultures but your ex is saying “NO WAY”.  What do you do? Here is my personal story of how I was able to get permission to travel and then to live abroad with my kids despite my ex-husband (the father of my 2 sons) FIGHTING ME TOOTH AND NAIL. It wasn’t easy but it can be done.

“Yes Officer, I DO have permission to travel with my children”.

Travelling When One Parent Is Not Present

If you have kids and want to travel internationally without the other parent, you are supposed to have written permission from the other parent.  Without written permission, you run the risk of getting denied entry into that other country.

But what happens when the other parent refuses to write you a letter giving you permission? Even between the US and Canada.

Our Routine Flight To Montreal

In 2010, I flew into Montreal like I’ve done so many times before with two minor differences.

I only had 2 of my 3 children with me and my husband Blake was not with me. Blake and my eldest son were driving a moving truck across the country towards some tiny storage unit in Massachusetts.

I exited the plane with my son and daughter and promptly walked to the immigration and customs area to wait in line to get our passports stamped.  When it was our turn, I handed the customs agent our passports.

He immediately took them and furrowed his eyebrows as if he were straining to read our names.

He looked up at us, then back at our passports and back at us and did this a few more times

No Big deal, I expected this scrutiny since I was ONE ADULT flying with kids and no father in sight.

Travelling is more complicated for us

To make matters worse, in addition to me flying alone with my children, it’s not immediately apparent that I am the children’s mother because we have three different last names.  If you haven’t guessed yet, I have a blended family and we have 3 different last names.

FIRST NAME: My name is Annie Andre. Andre is my maiden name that I’ve kept on all my documents.

SECOND NAME: I’ve remarried and my daughter and my husband have the same last name.

THIRD NAME: My two sons are from a previous marriage over a decade ago and they have my ex-husbands last name. It doesn’t help that one of my son’s first name is my last name or that my other son has my last name as his middle name. ( “ANDRE”). I digress!

 Papers Please!

I’m used to carrying documents showing that I have permission to travel with my sons.

95% of the time, I am never asked for proof that I have permission to take my boys out of the country but today was one of those rare occasions. However the passport agent only asked  me to show my “permission slip” to travel with my daughter and NOT my son.  Okaaaaay?

I smiled and pulled out my proof:

  1. Handwritten note from my husband Blake which gave me permission to travel with Catherine. (It’s recommended you get this notarized but mine is not)
  2. My daughters birth certificate which showed Blake and I were her parents.
  3. A photocopy of Blake’s Passport for good measure. 

Hypothetically speaking, had the passport agent asked me for proof that I had permission to travel with my son,  I would have handed him a COURT ORDER  which allows me to travel freely with my two boys.

You’ll notice, I did not have a written letter of consent from my ex husband.  I had a court order. I’ll explain why and how I got this court order in a moment.

“Welcome Back to Canada” said the smiling customs agent.

Then the border police stamped our passport and off we went to my family’s house in Montreal.

How I Got Permission To Travel Abroad: Travel NOT LIVE

A few years ago, Blake and I decided to elope to Europe and take our daughter and my two sons with. It was just a month-long trip.

I really thought my EX would agree to let me to take the boys with us to Europe. After all, it was only a month and it was for my wedding.  I really wanted it to be a family thing with us and the kids.

No amount of pleading, begging or bribing could persuade my ex into writing a letter to give me permission to travel with the boys.

I really wanted the boys to be part of the ceremony, so rather than just rolling over and leaving the boys behind, I took my ex to court and big surprise “I won”.

It was rather silly.I suppose the judge could see that my ex was trying to be difficult because he ordered him to sign all the documents so that I could apply for passports to travel abroad with the kids until the boys turned 18.

The judge also gave me permission to travel anywhere in the US and Canada and internationally without written permission from my ex  as long as I tell him our itinerary.

It was this COURT ORDER I used on the day I went to Montreal with my kids and it’s what I carry with me when I travel anywhere for short visits like vacations.

But what if I want to spend more time abroad? What if I want to live abroad or spend up to a year abroad travelling with my kids? 

Eloped: Intermission

In case you were wondering, we spent 3 1/2 weeks in Paris and then flew to Edinburgh Scotland to have a small civil ceremony on July 14th which happens to be Bastille day (French independence day).

You can read about why we decided to elope to to Scotland as a family rather than get married locally.

You can also get the inside scoop on we to  we eloped to Scotland too. 

CHEEEEEEEEEEEZE. I’m so glad we took the boys with us. It just would not have been the same without them.

2008_07_15-190

This is us moments before the deed is done

Blake and I minutes after we were married in Scotland
Blake and I after the civil ceremony in Edinburgh. One of my sons is the photographer.

The kids hanging out at the Edinburgh castle after Blake and I got married

The kids hanging out at Edinburgh Castle.

The boys horsing around in Scotland
The boys re-enacting the battle of Langside where Mary Queen of Scotts was defeated.

Permission to TRAVEL LONG TERM and LIVE ABROAD

I had permission to travel and visit other countries with the boys but not permission to LIVE abroad.  

Right now, as I write these words, I am living in France with my husband Blake and 3 children.

The COURT ORDER that I obtained for travelling with my boys ( which I mentioned above) was not valid for “LIVING” in another country.  I could stay in Europe as a tourist with my family for 90 days but I wanted to live there for a year legally and immerse the kids in French culture which meant sending them to School.

For that I needed a special visa called the “LONG STAY VISA” which gave us the right to send our kids to school and stay legally in the country for one year not 90 days. 

Travel and Live are two different concepts and the French Embassy required that I either get written permission from my ex that clearly stated I could “LIVE” in France with my two sons or a court order showing that I can “LIVE” in France.

I called up my ex and explained to him what I wanted to do.

Parents send their kids abroad for a year of study all the time. I wanted my children to experience a year abroad but I wanted to be there with them. I hoped that my ex would be okay with the kids spending a year abroad. He was but not with the idea of me being there with them.

Okaaaay!

Again, no amount of pleading, begging, no agreement I came up with was good enough for him and he would not write me a letter giving me and the boys permission to live abroad.

So again I petitioned the court to intervene and decide.

SIDEBARNow before you jump on my back about taking the boys away from their birth father let me first say that  my situation may be very different from yours.

Obviously since I am writing this while living in France, the judge granted me permission to LIVE in France with my boys.

You Are Not Guaranteed Court Approval

Just because you take your ex to court does not guarantee you will win. In my case my ex did not have a very good track record as a parent.

There were a lot of variables that worked in our favour. The bad economy and the fact that my husband and I could not find jobs in our field. The educational opportunity for the boys and the fact that we would and could be home for the kids after school.

But there was one big variable which may shock many of my friends who knew me and my ex because I have not told anyone but family and close friends about because of fear of retaliation from my EX.

In my opinion, my ex’s LACK of involvement and lack of assistance weighed heavily on the judge’s ruling to allow us to travel.

  • Rarely Saw the boys: My ex rarely saw the boys. On two separate occasions I had to pay him and his sister to baby-sit for me. ( I finally found a sitter so I could have a break once a month).
  • Endangerment: On one occasion my ex was supposed to take one of my sons for 30 days in the summer but I was called by his then girlfriend  after 15 days to come and pick my son up because my ex was too drunk to take care of him.
  • Lack of Support:My ex went 8 years without paying me a dime of child support while receiving wages from working under the table before the courts finally took action and required proof that he was looking for a job. A real job. Now his pay-checks are automatically deducted and I get child support but he will be in his sixties before he ever catches up on all of his back child support that is owed to me and the boys. The boys will be close to 30 at that time.

I could go on, but you get the picture right? 

I am sharing all of this with you because I actually don’t think it is always a good idea to move out of the country with your children if the other parent does not want them to. For instance, had my ex been involved in my boys lives then I would not have attempted to take them out of the country. But since he was barely there for them there was really no loss in my eyes. And the judge thought so too.

The Court Process:

I’ll briefly explain the court process that I went through.

At the time, I was living in Montreal and my ex was in California. I called up the lawyer I used before and asked her to file a new petition to allow me to take the kids abroad.

I did not even have to fly to California. I was on the phone for the entire court proceeding. I could hear my ex presenting his case. My lawyer was present in California on my behalf. It lasted 20 minutes at most and then the judge made his ruling and I was allowed to LIVE in France for not one but TWO years with the boys.

So How Do You Get YOUR Court Order?

Before you go and try to get a court order to travel with your kids, I strongly advise you to speak with your ex first and try to draw up an agreement. It’s not only the best way to do it, it will also cost you less money leaving you with more money for your family.

But if your ex does not want to give you permission and you have your heart set on travelling or spending a year abroad like us then you’ll have to go to court.

DO IT YOURSELF OR HIRE A LAWYER?

I hired a family law lawyer. Each time I used my lawyer it cost between 1,500 and 2,000 dollars.

The lawyer I used was in the Santa Clara County of California since that is where I lived with my kids and that is where our custody agreement is. I did nothing else but search on the Internet for a family law lawyer who handled child custody and modification agreements. Then i just called them and found the one I liked. ( I called 3).

You don’t need to hire a lawyer. You could file your own documents:

I talked with several parents who did NOT hire a lawyer. They filled out and filed their own documents and you can do this too.

Go to your local family court-house and ask if they have free legal advice service or people on hand who can help you choose the correct documents and help you fill out the paperwork.

Once your documents are filled out, you file them and wait for your court date. In addition to filing my court docs,  I wrote a very wordy document about why I wanted to take the boys and why it benefited them. I wrote a bit about how much or little my ex was involved in my boy’s life. There is no format for this.  I just winged it and wrote from the heart.

That’s It. 

WHAT DOCUMENTS DO YOU NEED TO TRAVEL OR LIVE ABROAD WITH KIDS?

Just to summarize here are the documents you should travel with.

I spoke with several parents who travel internationally or live abroad with kids (alone). Some people I spoke with don’t even get permission from their ex. They just chance it. Others didn’t even know that they were supposed to have written permission.  So technically you could always chance it and go without written permission.

Personally, I wouldn’t chance it..

You never know when you will be asked to produce documentation. So here is what I recommend you travel with..

  • Always travel with a letter from the other parent. It should give you permission to travel with the kids and it should be dated and signed. Many government sites say that the letter should be notarized but so far I have only used NON notarized documents.
  • I  Also bring a copy of my child’s birth certificate which shows who the parents are. I have a friend (Talon, a single dad )who adopted his son and on the birth certificate it only shows him as the father the mother area is left blank so he doesn’t need to show any other documentation. Although he did say that he travels with the adoption papers just in case but that no one has even asked him to show any proof of the mothers permission.
  • A copy of your spouse or the other parents ID. Preferably a passport if you can manage. I have a copy of my husbands but not my ex.

Here is a link to the Canadian site with a link to a blank letter for you to fill out. Here is the link to the U.S. site stating the requirements.

If you can’t get a letter of approval than you will have to get a court order like i did. Be very careful of the wording you use in the court order.

Will you travel with the kids on vacations? Will you live abroad for a year? What countries? Will you travel nomadically during a period of time? For how long? What about the kids education? Health Insurance? How will they communicate with the other parent while abroad?

These are all things I had to consider and answer and you may need to do the same for your court order.

Reading Books In Berlin: Prenzlauer_Berg

The Kids Do A Lot Of Reading and Learning On The Road

ps: I wanted to add one thing. 

Not many people know this story including my friends. I think a lot of them will be very shocked to find out about this private matter.

I was going to keep it private but I think and I hope in the least that my transparency and my struggles will inspire and empower other single parents and blended families not to fear un-cooperative ex spouses.  I always advocate amicable relationships with ex’s but that’s just not always possible is it? You have to do what is best for the kids and that is what I did.

FINAL THOUGHTS: You Don’t Have To Agree With Me

I realize there may be some of you who disagree with the idea of travelling and living abroad with kids. You are entitled to that opinion.

I lived abroad and travelled a lot as a child and I am so grateful my parents gave me that opportunity. So much so that I want to give my kids the same gift that I received.

My kids are experiencing other cultures and seeing the way other people live first hand not to mention the fact that they are fluent in French now.

These are all things they would normally do and see in a classroom or some textbook but are getting to experience first hand. Plus they are learning to be more  creative which makes for better problem solvers who can adapt better to change in this world.

It took a lot of sacrifice on my part and my husband’s part to take the kids abroad but it’s totally worth it.

I would love to know your thoughts? Leave your comments below.

How to educate the kids while living abroad

How To Homeschool While Travelling Or Living Abroad: Beginners Guide

One of the problems when people travel long term or live abroad is how to educate and keep your kids on track with the rest of their schoolmates back in your home country. 

education_travel_abroad

We chose to mainstream our kids in public French school while in France.

But what if you don’t want to be tied to a school schedule and travel to more than one country in any given year?  What if you want to do an around the world trip with your kids? 

Simple, you can always homeschool while travelling.

Today’s article is a guest post written by Susie Brown. Her article is a great introduction into the world of homeschooling while travelling or living abroad with kids.

It’s hard but not as hard as people think. As Susie puts it, “if she can do it, anyone can”.

Take it away Susie.


Why I home-schooled the kids

When my oldest son was having trouble keeping up in school we considered all of our options. And after checking into everything that the school system had to offer us, we weren’t very impressed. It seemed that our son was doomed to fall through the cracks of the education system and there was nothing we could do about it. We decided to try homeschooling, mostly because we figured that it couldn’t be any worse than the other options.

After a few weeks of homeschooling our sons face began to shine again, he was a much happier boy, and we witnessed how his mind was able to develop in ways that it didn’t while he was in school. It turns out that the school atmosphere just wasn’t right for him. Eventually, our other kids wanted to try homeschooling too, and that was the beginning of our homeschooling family adventure.

As it turned out, one of the greatest perks of homeschooling is being on a different schedule as everybody else. When the zoos, museums, and other fun outing destinations are flooded with people on weekends and holidays we avoid going, because we can go on school days in order to avoid the lines and the crowds. And when we moved we didn’t need to look for new schools, nor did we need to worry about our children’s curriculum changing.

For anyone who is considering relocating for a limited time, homeschooling might be a great option. But if you plan to send your kids back to the same school system, you will obviously need to keep them up to speed. Thankfully, many homeschooling families find that their children are able to learn the material a lot faster than their in-school peers.

Staying on track with the curriculum back at home

The first step towards staying on track with the school is by asking the school. Go to the school where your child would otherwise be attending and explain to them your travel plans and your plans to return. That is show them that you consider them too as important educators in the life of your child, which is a very engaging and gratifying feeling for teachers. After explaining your travel plans, ask them for a general idea of the curriculum.

The teachers should be able to give you a general answer. Although, teachers do improvise and readjust their lesson plans throughout the course of the school year, they are required to cover certain material. Once you find out what that required material is, you can make your own lesson plan of how to learn it.

By the way, planning your own curriculum might seem like a daunting undertaking, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. I have no formal training in being an educator, and if I could do it, so can you.

Another benefit of being in contact with your child’s school is that the school might be able to give you their own suggestions for what and how to study with your children.

I know of a mother who when she told her child’s school of their plans to relocate to Argentina, the school was smart enough to take advantage of the situation. Her child’s grade learned about Argentina’s history and culture, and the mother and school coordinated their curriculums together. When the school learned about the native Argentinean tribes they would go visit the ruins video camera in hand. The school benefited by showing the videos to students, and the family benefited by remaining in sync with the school’s curriculum.

3 Simple Ways To Teach While Travelling or Living Abroad

How parents go about assuring that their kids are getting the best education possible during the homeschooling process is a matter or trial and error since so much of learning is child specific.

1- Online learning aids are fun and give immediate feedback

I am a big fan of using online learning sites in order to teach important concepts. Online learning sites are often designed in the same way as video games. Similar to the way a child needs to figure out certain things in order to win a video game she will likewise need to figure out how to “win” the online learning games. In the course of playing and winning those games they learn fundamental concepts.

Whereas if a student doesn’t understand a concept when they take a test or do homework, which is bad news for their grade and their self-image, with online learning sites they can just try again. Most kids love trying again, just like they like playing video games over again.

To get an idea of what I am talking about go to www.ixl.com, a math learning website, where you can try out their features for free. Ideally I don’t recommend using online learning sites as the main component for teaching, but rather as an assistant to your regular learning schedule.

2- One-on-one learning

My favorite thing about homeschooling is the fact that my kids are completely engaged in their learning. Since there is someone constantly there to help them in their learning (usually that’s me), they never slip into passivity.

Take advantage of learning opportunities

The learning that can be accomplished through being exposed to a new culture is immeasurable. Here are a few ideas for how to do that

  • Learn about the history of your host culture and then go and visit the sites which you learned about.
  • Go to museums more than once
  • Learn the language
  • Learn skills that are culture specific like learning Chinese calligraphy in China, or learning how to cook French cuisine in France.

3- Join a local community of homeschoolers

Homeschooling exists in most places in the world, and homeschooling families usually make plans to meet up together on a regular basis. Inquire about these homeschool community activities and you may find a community that is happy to accept you with open arms. Homeschoolers, as a general rule, are some of the nicest and most accepting people that you will ever meet. These mini-communities are a great way to make friends and they can be a valuable source of information and networking.

WARNING:  What to be Careful About

When we first started researching the possibility of homeschooling we decided to go right to the experts- the products of homeschooled education. I spoke to a few young adults who had graduated from homeschool high school, and whom I consider to be very successful. I asked them if they had any advice about homeschooling. Their unified response. “Don’t let homeschooling become no-schooling.” Although homeschooling does allow you to be much more flexible in your activities, it is still important to pursue goals and stick to some type of schedule.


 

SusieBrownAuthor Bio: Susie Brown is a FastUpFront Blog contributor and business author. Fastupfront offers working capital to businesses in need of a loan.

How To Teach Your Kids To Be Adventurous: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Not all gifts come wrapped with a bow. Some gifts are less tangible. Some gifts keep on giving years after we are dead and gone.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Each and every one of us has some combination of traits, characteristics and interests that make us who we are. But how did you turn out to be the way that you are? As far as I can tell it’s from a combination of your Parents and outside influences.

PARENTS

If you’re like me, than one of the single biggest influences in shaping you, your morality and your character development can be directly attributed to your parents, your family or some other mentor in you life.

Thanks Dad: My father shaped me into who I am and who gave me the greatest gift of all. A gift that I carry with me everywhere. This gift gives me the confidence to live my life to the fullest in a way that makes me the happiest.  My dad gave me ….The gift of an “ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT”.

His name was was Jean-Louis Andre and he was born on December 21st 1929. I always miss him the most right around Christmas time and remember this precious gift that I still carry around with me.

OUTSIDE INFLUENCES

Sure there were other outside forces that helped in the process of your character development like, school, church, friends, sports or other various activities. However, these other things most likely had a fractured influence on you.  The real meat of your essence probably comes from your parents or some parental like figure or mentor.

Passing On Values: The Secret Sauce

With regards to my own children, my biggest hope for them is to live their life to the fullest with fewer regrets in life? I think the best gift I can give them is to help shape them into humans who are not afraid to live a little adventurously once in a while. But how the heck DO you teach your kids to be adventurous, take risks and try new things?

To answer this question, I had to think back to my own childhood and examine my own fathers childhood too. 

Daddy’s Girl

The easiest way for me to explain how my father instilled an adventurous spirit is to show you by telling you a little about my father and my upbringing. Like most parents, my dad taught me the typical things parents wanted or expected of their children.

  • Be practical, pragmatic and well grounded
  • Don’t lie, steal or cheat.
  • Work hard, study hard, do you chores
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated and try to help others as much as you can
  • yada yada yada.

MODELING: Be a role model

What amazes me is that he was able to instill in me my adventurous sprit without using words. He never said  “Annie, I want you to travel and see the world”. Or “ You need to take more risks and try new things even if it’s scary”. In fact, he never said anything even remotely like that AT ALL.Yet, I always tried to be a little different as a girl. My first scary thing I did when I turned 18 was to pack a bag and move to Japan for 3 years.

I am convinced that it was my fathers actions and the way he lived his life outside of conventional wisdom that influenced me and shaped my adventurous side. NOT HIS WORDS

He didn’t know it, but by simply living his values and life the way he did, he was MODELING.  NO, not fashion modeling. Modeling is a phenomenon known in  social sciences where your actions are a bigger influence on someone than your actual words. For instance, there have been studies done that show that children are over 80% more likely to buckle up if their parents buckle up too. Yes, an actual study was done on this.

I’ve seen this same powerful influence of modeling happen with  my own kids.

When I was learning how to bake, that’s all I did for a month. I baked cookies from scratch day and night until I got the knack for it. Now my middle son and my 4 year old daughter love to bake too. They are really into the whole process of baking it’s kind of cute. My son Andre even thinks he might want to be a pastry chef one day. A mom can only dream.

When I taught myself to sew and started making cute little handmade sleeping masks for my business, my son took up crocheting. Yes, boys crochet too ok. Don’t hate! All my kids have a kind of DIY, tinkering nature about them. Which I think is FANTASTIC!

sleeping_panda eye mask

My own father influenced my adventurous side by living his life as a daring adventure. It had such an impact on me that it’s something that I have striven to do also for most of my life.

udon Thani Thailand

FOR EXAMPLE

My DAD: He was a world traveler who lived abroad in Thailand for over a decade back in the 60’s and 70’s. This was before it was considered cool and trendy and before the word lifestyle design became popular.

ME: From the age of 10, I already yearned to travel and see the world.

  • In high school I begged my father to send me to Montreal to live with my aunt so I could attend a French high school. Which I did. it was the next best thing to going to Europe for me.
  • At 18, I left to live in Japan where I worked doing odd jobs so that I could travel through Asia and Europe for 3 1/2 years.
  • Now after four years of college, over a decade in the corporate world, 3 kids and 2 marriages, my husband and I are living in France on a family sabbatical of sorts with our three kids.

Rewind: Dying the way you lived

It wasn’t just his travelling that influenced me. It was the things that he accomplished, the way he lived and even the way he died.

Death: Years ago, when I was 21, my dad tried to be a good Samaritan by stopping the getaway car of a robber who had just robbed our local grocery store.  He was struck and thrown 30 feet in the air and landed on his head. He died 3 days later from massive head trauma leaving me and  my then 14 year old brother alone in the world.

Life: he lived a life that he wanted to live and as a result, he was a bit unconventional in his ways.

Not only was he a world traveler, he also had a pilots license, owned a single engine plane, lived abroad in several Asian countries totalling almost 15 years and spoke 4 languages. French, English, mandarin Chinese and Thai. I have photos of my dad climbing coconut trees, holding snakes and doing things that most people from Canada or the U.S. just didn’t do in the 60’s and 70’s.

Being Adventurous in spite of…But how DID he get to be so adventurous?

As far as I can tell, my dad lived adventurously in spite of his parents. Maybe it was because of the times he grew up in that lead him to be more adventurous. At this point I am only speculating.

He grew up DIRT POOR in Quebec Canada. When I say poor I mean like depression era poor, where they only had one frying pan in their house and didn’t always have enough to eat.  At 15, he left his home to go live and work on his grandparents farm to earn some money. I think that one act alone,  of leaving his home as a teenager might have been the catalyst that propelled him and gave him the courage to travel even further and live his life more adventurously.

Around the age of 22, he left Canada and immigrated to Boston Massachusetts in the U.S. where he learned to speak English.  I still remember his funny Bostonian and French accent that was so uniquely him.

Eventually he joined the military to get an education in engineering. Somehow he ended up a pilot and working in Thailand for the airforce in a city called Udon Thani.  He lived in Thailand for over a decade and married my mother who was Thai. I was born a few years later in the 70’s and lived in Thailand until I was almost five years old. Ironically, my first language is Thai, but I no longer speak it. (Use it or lose it people)

image

Fun fact: About my  place of birth:

If you are not familiar with Air America or Udon Thani Thailand, there was a movie loosely based off of this operation called…Surprise “Air America” starring Mel Gibson and Robert Downey JR. You can read more about the Air America operation here on Wikipedia.

Living Like An American

We left Thailand and settled in California after my mother passed away in a bus accident. Dad tried to live a conventional life. Perhaps more for my sake than his. Or maybe it was because he had had his fill of travel and adventure. I’ll never know.

Trying to blend in

Despite his best efforts to blend in, dad couldn’t resist the pull of his adventurous spirit because although we lived in the suburbs and he had a great job as an engineer working at National Semiconductor, we didn’t always live, act or look like typical Americans.

For starters, dad remarried a woman who he met in Taiwan. (Dad went to Taiwan often to train his counterparts.)  Her name was Shew Chang and she raised me until she passed away when I was 14. (Yes, there were a lot of deaths in our family.  It made for a very international and eclectic household: Try as they might, we didn’t always fit the classic image of the American household.

My Unconventional Childhood Home

Growing up all I ever wanted to be was normal. I thought we were anything but normal and I was embarrassed of my family because of our differences.  image

  • Birthday parties were horrible as far as I was concerned.  I hated the fact that my dad didn’t have hot dogs and hamburgers and cake at my birthday party like Vicki V. did at her party. Nooo, we had to have Pad Thai and garlic with black bean crab with a mung bean desert. Not exactly a child friendly meal in our neighborhood.
  • Instead of camping in the back yard or at camp sites, we spent summers in Thailand or Taiwan.
  • On one of our summer trips abroad,  Instead of a dog, I got a pet monkey. image
  • Exotic for us wasn’t Mexican food, but rather fish eyeball soup, chicken feet and turtle soup. “YES I know, not good”.
  • Instead of Billy Joel,  Bruce Springsteen and Pop music, I loved Asian Pop and Euro trash.
  • Instead of baking cookies, we made Asian dumplings and had Asian dumpling making parties.

I could go on and on.

Appreciating the difference

Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular in school. I didn’t really fit in with the Asians and I didn’t fit in with all the white kids. (that’s the major down fall of being a Hapa as the Hawaiians call it.) But I can appreciate it now for what it is.

I’m glad that I didn’t have a typical upbringing. Growing up different than others around me was in a way, my own little adventure and it gave me the confidence I have now to make life choices that might go against the social grains of our society.

What Can The Average Person Do With Their Kids

Which brings me back to my original question of “how the heck to teach kids to be more adventurous”.

Well, you don’t’ have to do anything extreme like travelling and spending summers in Thailand, Taiwan or move to France: unless that’s what tickles your fancy. You can do small little things everyday to instill a sense of adventure simply by doing new things or exploring the unknown. You might already be doing this without even knowing it Just like my parents did for me.

  • Introduce foreign foods to your kids. I’ve been feeding my kids cuisine from all over the world since they were born. As a result, I don’t have very many problems with my kids eating habits. They eat just about anything including Kimchee the stinky Korean cabbage.
  • Sign them up for a sport. My kids didn’t do much basketball or football. We lived by the San Francisco bay so they took part in a youth sailing program. Sports are a great way to instill a sense of outdoor sports adventure.
  • Learn a language together for the fun of it. Japanese, Arabic or ???? I was lucky, I already spoke French so I’ve been teaching it to my kids since they were young. My youngest daughter is fluent in French and probably speaks better French than English. Had I not spoken French, I might have learned a second language alongside with her. You can do a self paced lesson with software programs like Rosetta Stone.
  • Give your kids music lesson: Instead of piano, what about an accordion?  Ok, that’s my dream. That and the musical saw. Don’t ask.

These are just a few of the many things you can do to grow your kids adventurous spirit.

Not only will it be fun and interesting. It will give them the confidence to be more intentional with their life choices rather than letting life slip by.

I may also give them the confidence and guts to be adventurous and live outside of the conventional bell curve so that they can create a life based on who they are, not what society tells them they have to do or how they are supposed to live.

BEST GIFT EVER

My Family Photo Annie AndrePassing on my adventurous spirit to my kids is the best gift I can give them because I know they will remember it long after I’m long gone just I like I remember my own father.

Thanks Dad. I wish you were here today to see me and your 3 grandkids. I love you!

Merry Christmas Everyone From Our Family To Yours

French: Joyeux Noel, Chinese: (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan, Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai, Japanese: Shinnen omedeto

 

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