We started part-time worldschooling before we knew what to call it—or even that it had a name.
This lifestyle came so naturally to us, that it never occurred to me to call it anything but “the way we live.”
But then people started getting interested in our unique approach to homeschooling, and I got the same questions over and over.
“What is part-time worldschooling?”
“How do you afford it?”
“Can we do it, too?”
So today, I want to show you why we opted for the part-time approach, how we make it work, and an honest assessment of the pros and cons.
What is part-time worldschooling?
Part-time worldschooling differs from traditional worldschooling only in that my family maintains and regularly returns to a home base.
So, for much of the year, we spend our time at our home in the United States, but take frequent trips, both domestically and abroad, sometimes for weeks out of the year, specifically to complement our studies.
For example, a few months ago, we worked on ancient history and then took the kids to Egypt to learn directly about what we studied.
But we don’t always go that far! In between international journeys, we also take smaller, more regional trips (like this one to Savannah, Georgia).
Pros and cons. Yes, honestly.
Part-time worldschooling works for us, but it isn’t for everyone.
A lot of bloggers and influencers want to promote their lifestyles like used car salesmen. They show you the shiny paint job, and avoid, at all costs, letting you look under the hood.
I’m not going to do that.
The choice to become a worldschooler (or even just a homeschooler) is a major one. It affects you, your kids and your entire family, and the trajectory of your lives overall.
This blog is only valuable if the information here is honest. So, I want to be honest.
Let’s take a look at the frank pros and cons of this approach to homeschooling.
It goes without saying that we decided the pros of part-time worldschooling far outweigh the cons—for us. Here they are, as I see them, from my experience.
Community. One thing that full-time worldschoolers, (especially those with some mileage on them) often struggle with is a lack of community. Living abroad or on the road full time means that your community is there as long as you are. But when you move on, generally, so do they.
This isn’t to say you can’t make long-term friends while living abroad, but dug-in, roots-in-the-ground sort of friends only come from a consistent, long-term base.
Stability. Similar to a community, returning to a home base offers a level of stability that feels beneficial for our family. Of course, some kids and families thrive on living on the move, but mine seem to do better when they regularly return to something familiar.
Access to traditional learning opportunities. In between trips, I teach at a homeschool co-op and my eldest child attends classes there, giving him the chance to make local friends and me a chance to connect with other homeschool parents.
Not carrying everything you own with you. I have to be honest. I like that I have a craft closet. And a shelf full of books. It’s not that I need these things, or that if we decided to go abroad full-time, I couldn’t store them somewhere until we got back. But as a part-time digital nomad, when I come back, I know it’s all going to be set up and ready to go. It makes transitioning from travel to home more seamless.
It ain’t all candy apples and rainbow-striped unicorns. There are definitely drawbacks to the part-time approach. Here’s a few to consider.
You can’t rent out your house. For full-time worldschoolers, renting out the house is often a major source of income while living abroad. Some part-timers use short-term rental companies like Airbnb to monetize their properties part-time, but you still need someone there to manage it for you, and by the time you compensate that person and the platform, plus pay the mortgage, there usually isn’t much left.
However, you can use home swap companies like Kindred to offset the cost of staying overseas or regionally. You might find you’re much better off than trying to rent your property out for cash.
It’s harder to score deals. Months-long rentals abroad offer deep discounts that you can’t get if you just plan to stay a few weeks. Also, the longer you stay somewhere, the better you get at knowing how to live there low cost. Living abroad generally gets cheaper the longer you stay for a lot of reasons.
Your kids won’t get the chance to go to school abroad. It seems counterintuitive to homeschoolers, but one major advantage to staying longer term in another country is that your kids may get the opportunity to go to a brick-and-mortar school there, either privately or through the public school system wherever you are. This is an amazing way for your kids to get an authentic, local experience with the community, but you really need to be there for about 9 months to make it work.
So, how do you make it work?
Part-time worldschoolers remedy many of the income-related issues the same ways full-timers address them.
Some ideas include:
-Monetizing your digital skills via services like Fiverr.
-Teaching English abroad.
-Monetizing real estate and rentals that you own.
-Getting seasonal work in your visiting country.
The frank truth is, most worldschoolers place less emphasis on structure than more traditional educators.
But that doesn’t mean they use no structure.
I only speak for myself and my family, but I find that structure is portable. Here are a few things to consider.
Curriculums are portable. Books? Not so much.
Lugging around heavy curriculum books is frankly impractical. When you move a lot, you become very aware very quickly of just how much stuff weighs.
Fortunately, the internet offers a plethora of structured curriculums that follow you all over the world.
Of course, if you prefer not to rely on a lot of screen time, I hear you.
Again, I can only tell you what works for us. Every family is different.
But for us, we try to strike a balance. Internet-based programs help for core curriculum stuff—especially math.
However, the trade-off is that a lot of the stuff home-based education relies on screen time for can be studied effectively abroad without screen time.
For example, all those hours your high schooler would spend in front of Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish are dramatically reduced by a 3-month immersion study in Costa Rica. Of course, some structure may still be necessary to learn proper grammar/sentence structure/ect, but her most dramatic improvements come from actually being in a country where Spanish is useful and she speaks it daily.
This principle extends to many other subjects depending on where you go.
Your middle schooler will likely learn a great deal more about marine biology snorkeling in the Caribbean than seated in front of a textbook or school computer.
Art history knowledge comes quite naturally if you spend lunch walking around the Louvre once or twice a week.
The point is, that some areas of your child’s education may require more screen time for consistency, but others won’t require any at all. Overall, whether part-time or full-time, worldschoolers tend to spend less time in front of screens, not more.
You can do this. If you want it and you’re willing to put the work in, part-time worldschooling is within reach.