We are a pretty average mom and dad in Brooklyn. We had an eight-year-old who wasn’t learning to read and it puzzled everyone: Angus was a bright boy who just seemed ‘stuck’. Out of the blue, Angus’ dad got an incredible offer: six months work in Italy. Could I rearrange my job and Angus’ classes so we could go along? We would lose my freelance income but we’d never get another chance like this one – so we decided to live as frugally as possible and make it happen.
The big question was Angus’ school. He would miss the first half of fourth grade and he had reading problems. Timidly, I went to ask the principal for permission. “Traveling is a great education!” she exclaimed, “By all means – go and make the most of it.”
And so we did. It was a transforming experience for all of us. Angus did English and Math worksheets in the morning and we walked around the city and talked about history and culture in the afternoon. Traveling taught him real life skills: to be adaptable, aware and respectful of others. Encountering new situations and solving problems developed his self-confidence and sense of responsibility. We all learned about each other and our family grew closer. By the time we got home, Angus had changed from a ‘slow reader’ to high achiever.
So now it’s ten years later and Angus is at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland studying Philosophy and Informatics. I’m convinced our first trip to Italy changed his life; I know it changed mine. With this blog I hope to connect with parents who’ve also seen their children thrive on the road and inspire others to think about family travel as more than just a vacation.
‘Traveling Academy’ is not about how far you go, how long you stay or how much money you spend. It’s about a state of mind when you travel with your kids: find ways to connect with their natural curiosity and the world becomes their classroom.