This week we welcome back child photographer Julie A. Martin, from Artfully Uncommon Photography, with the second part in a series of blogs where she shares with us more on her family's travel adventures and what it's like worldschooling her two tween daughters. We had an overwhelming response to part one, if you missed the first instalment you can read it here. You can also follow Julie on her gorgeous Instagram feed or Facebook page.
Photo credit: Marla Cyree | Simply Splendid
In The Art of Worldschooling - Part One, I talked about what drove us to change our lives and begin full-time traveling with our two tween girls and what we hoped to gain as a family. We have now just completed our 19th month of worldschooling, when we came back to the USA for a few weeks before doing it all again.
I really do sit in awe every day at just how much my girls, Zoe (12) and Delia (10½) have changed, and just how much WE have changed together. This journey shows me every day what happens when children are raised in a “yes” environment, free to explore who they are and want to be without things like bullying or peer pressure. It was three years ago when we pulled our girls out of traditional school. I remember Zoe coming home several times from school having decided not to wear her outfit anymore because so-and-so thought it wasn’t cool. Many times she would doubt herself if one of her classmates thought she was weird because of what she liked or what she wore. She outwardly changed who she was to please others and to be accepted. It was crushing to watch.
Over the last 19 months, I have seen her grow into an extremely confident tween girl that has no problems being herself. She has short hair and wears what she likes, not even considering what others think is cool. She spent six months learning archery in Wales because she didn’t have anyone telling her she shouldn’t. She even still watches kid cartoons sometimes and is perfectly ok being interested in a show marketed to five year olds. She likes what she likes and is 100% confident in herself. It’s a beautiful thing to watch and raising strong girls is all I had hoped for in this journey.
Delia discovered horses during our six-month stay in Wales and trained in English-style riding four times a week. Her training is continuing in every location we travel to. She wants to have a career around horses and it pretty much consumes her life at this point. Would she eventually have discovered horses had we not traveled? I really don’t know. I have a feeling she would have gravitated towards the equestrian lifestyle at some point, but I can’t help but wonder how the direction of her life may have been altered by exposing her to so many activities in so many locations. She has a deep passion with horseback riding and it has been 100% supported and encouraged, as have all of their interests. We were determined, as parents, to raise fearless, free- range children and see what happened! So far, so good!
Their relationships with each other have improved immensely, as well. They used to fight non-stop when we lived in our home in Oregon and it was such a stressful life for the family. We joked at the beginning of our travels that being forced to be together 24/7 would cure them of the fighting and it actually did! They are so incredibly close now, and while sibling spats do happen, they are actually friends now. Finally!!!!
Not everyone can necessarily pick up and travel full-time, or maybe not everyone wants to! Not everyone can or wants to homeschool. I don’t believe, though, that children need any of that to benefit in the same way my girls have. This experience has shown us all one very important lesson that can be lived anywhere at any time. Slowing down your busy lives and being PRESENT in your parenting can make a world of difference in your children’s lives. Actively listening to your children...their concerns, their interests, their questions, and supporting them in everything they want to experience shows them they can be free to explore and make mistakes and learn. It also shows them they have a safe place to land at the end of the day. I think in the end, the biggest transformation has been in me during this journey. I have transformed from a really stressed out, unhappy, depressed mom (that honestly dreaded spending time with two fighting, dramatic children) to a mom that actually loves spending time with them! I have really cool kids and all of the sacrifices we have made have been incredibly worth it! We ENJOY life and truly love every day! That can be achieved by anyone at any time, truly. Going into 2018, as we head off for another year roaming Europe, I’m reevaluating our goals with traveling. This year’s intention will be “mindfulness”. I want my girls to be thoughtful and purposeful in everything they do; and to be aware of how they impact the space around them. We shall see how it all unfolds!