Photo caption: Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the boys 12th birthday. Pictured: Elaine Earle, Chandler, Bea Lueck (Editor-in-Chief for Prescott LIVING Magazine), Christian.
by Elaine Earle, CEO, ROX Media Group and Publisher, Prescott LIVING Magazine
Why would you want to do that? I get asked this all the time with regards to my choice in education (including travel).
Are your kids in sports? My answer is “No.” Are your kids going to camp this summer? My answer is “No.” I tell people we don’t do that because we are traveling this summer (to Europe or Australia or Africa or fill in the blank). Then the question comes out, “Why would you want to do that?” My thoughts are, “Why wouldn’t you want to do that?”
I have a full-time job and then some, am a full-time mom with 12-year-old twin boys and also sit in the CEO/CFO role of a diverse set of businesses along with my husband Rock. My children, Christian and Chandler, also attend a traditional charter school full time (going into seventh grade). Our businesses, employees and jobs don’t stop when we are on the road.
Travel is a choice for us, but it’s not only that. Travel is a priority for us. Often when we are heading out somewhere, I don’t feel like we can leave duties behind. We go anyway because it is a priority.
Travel is education. It teaches me about the world and now teaches my children about the world. My twins have been to 10 countries (including six in Europe, one in Africa and Australia). They have also attended school in two foreign countries (Spain and Germany). We have made arrangements with school superintendents to pull them out of U.S. school for a period of time while on the road and arranged school work online (while they went to foreign school during the day).
Isn’t travel expensive? My answer is “not if you don’t want it to be.” Our secret? Go for a long time (at least a month) to make the plane journey worth it, save up air miles and use them wisely (book almost a year in advance), and look for home trades (you literally exchange your home with another family in a foreign country).
We have done two notable home trades in Europe with other families. Not only do you get to stay in a home usually away from a major metro area, you also get to know the foreign family. The experience of doing this is far superior, in my opinion, to merely staying in hotels.
Travel is our choice, our education and our priority. You may not find me on the Little League fields on any given Saturday morning, but you will find me with my twin boys climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge on their 12th birthday! I receive criticism for these choices, probably similar to other parents for choosing to do anything that might not be totally mainstream, and that is OK with me. I will keep traveling with my children regardless. When they are grown up and married, I will still find a way to travel with them.
I would argue that my boys have learned more on the road, especially the foreign road, than they could have learned at home in their accelerated charter school. We do have a balance, though, between traditional charter school time and travel time.
They still excel in their charter school with straight As and high merits. However, on the road, they have navigated major capitals in the world, gone to world renowned museums, watched as Muslims roll out their mats and pray on the side of the road in North Africa, attended church in Westminster Abbey, eaten dinner in a home where absolutely no English is spoken, have played with village children who have no video games or electronics, have driven a tractor (in Germany), hopped on a village school bus for the first day of school where no English is spoken (without their parents tagging along!) and have even seen topless women on the beaches of Spain. Teaching our children about the world, including the people in the world, is priority No. 1.