Exploration and Worldy Education: The Other Curriculum

August 25, 2010


Luggage with Stickers
Image via salon.com

For me, part of giving the kids a well-rounded education is exposing them to not only other cultures and foods and religions, but the opportunity to live differently.  To show them and let them experience that people and families live differently all around the country and all around the world.

We live in a lovely suburban area in a very large city.  Tree-lined streets, parks, master planned community, two cars and we drive everywhere we need to be.  This is not how the rest of the world lives.  The kids have never seen any form of public transportation other than the shuttles and monorail at Disneyworld and we all know how realistic THAT environment is.  They don’t know about subways or neighborhood specialty grocers or halal stands or flower markets or street performers or even graffiti for that matter.  They also don’t know about swap meets or town farmers markets and festivals, skipping rocks in ponds and other small town fun and they have never seen a mountain.  They are missing out on a LOT.

(Man I sound like a bad parent right now for all the wrong reasons.)

While there is a part of me that would LOVE to up and head out to another country for a year, I don’t like how disruptive that can be for the kids schooling at the ages they are now.  (That’d be 9 and 4 for those of you just joining the program.)

So I’ve come up with a modified, longer-term plan – the summer.  I want to take a month or so each summer to try to live in another city or country with the kids.  This allows Leah to still go to the camp that she loves and that I think is critically important for her, but also some significant time to live differently and explore other places.

Leah’s nine – so I’d like for her to journal on these adventures and see what it’s like from her perspective to live differently for a bit.  She’s also a budding photographer in her own right.  Imagine the pictures she might capture.  Of course, as Benjamin gets older I can’t wait to see the same thing from him.  But given his memory of his visit to Disneyworld last year I can tell you I know, without a doubt, that this will leave a huge impression on him as well.

Husband works for a company with offices in some interesting places around the country and around the world, but for next summer I think I’d like to start with New York City.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

This is all in the infancy planning stages , but help me out.  Those of you who have lived abroad or even made a serious move with your families – what do I need to think about, even for the short time we’ll be there?  What were some things that went well or didn’t go well as the kids adjusted to new surroundings?

And what locations would you suggest be on our yearly summer adventure list?  The world is wide open – where have you loved living and why?

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8 Responses to “Exploration and Worldy Education: The Other Curriculum”

  1. Kent Says:

    I lived in Hungary for about a year in the mid ’90s. Small country, maybe a population of 10 million, over 1,100 years old. The people there are very friendly and very proud of their heritage. It is not known exactly where the Magyars (that’s what they call themselves) came from. They have a very triumphant spirit, yet have also been beaten up throughout their history.

    Consider a week or two in Budapest, then a week in Szeged and one or two at Lake Balaton. You’ll your kids will be exposed to a country rich in history and tradition.

    Two other places to consider: India and China. India’s culture was very counter to ours here in the U.S. I came home from India more affected than anywhere else I’ve ever been.

    I was also affected greatly by my time in China. It is growing in world influence, so it may be good for your kids to spend time there to gain a small understanding of the Chinese culture.

  2. Amie aka MammaLoves Says:

    What a fabulous idea!

    I think finding community things to do–even in NYC–would be helpful. Story time, even a one-week camp on location so they meet kids from the area.

    We have so many commitments with our three, I can barely find a week to get them away.

    Oh so jealous!!! And hoping DC makes the list some day.

    • Pammer Says:

      Here’s an idea… come with me. (A girl can dream, right?) I think all your suggestions are great, too. And, uh, if I pull this off – DC isn’t that far from NYC, right? 🙂

  3. MainlineMom Says:

    So I’m really curious about logistically how you pull this off. Where can you afford to live for a month at a time? Sounds awesome, but I have no idea.

    Our 2 week vacation every year includes lots of small towns and mountains and the like. Cuz that’s how my inlaws live 🙂

  4. elz Says:

    I lived in Europe for years (dad is military), and have traveled all over Europe extensively both then and while studying abroad. Leah is the perfect age. I’m not sure about Benjamin (my brother was his age when we lived in Britain and he honestly doesn’t remember too much).

    BTW, I know of a great Girl Scout camp in Germany for Leah. I’d include Paris, Berlin, Garmisch-P (outdoorsy) Austria, Turkey, Bern, and Edinburgh, and Dublin.

  5. Jonathan Says:

    You just know I’m going to say “London”, don’t you 🙂