There’s No Such Thing as Non-Negotiable


There is no such thing is a non-negotiable.  I thought I’d be able to negotiate and make a stand, not back down and win, convince my husband to put the children to school, but he insisted and debated for the continuation of homeschooling.  Now, I’ve researched homeschooling, unschooling, worldschooling and we’ve done it ourselves. I’m not too happy with the results and find it too stressful fending off everyone who feels we are wrong that I’ve started to believe we may be wrong, too.  My husband has no problem making a stand for something he believes in.  Me, I am the wavering type.   At the sign of difficulty, I fold and give up.

Homeschooling has been difficult and stressful for me.  There are many homeschooling families whom I admire – my friends, my sister, worldschoolers we met on our road trip.  But unfortunately we just don’t fit into that type of family which practices this non-traditional method of education in an admirable way.  We get angry at the kids.  The kids have too much screen time.  We are not that creative.  Gosh, and the kids still can’t read.  Even if I know for a fact it doesn’t matter in the end what age they start reading, it still weighs heavy on my mind.  Our methods leave much to be desired but my husband said we can improve ourselves.

What about the naysayers?   Those who echo my own opinion that we should stop because one year of experimentation is more than enough time.  I also feel the same way – that this has gone on too long but my husband thinks we should press on this path despite the setbacks.  He wants to prove that he can teach Chinese to Joshua and Jimmy in a calm and effective manner.  He showed me and it was quite good but can he do it consistently through time, every day?  That remains to be seen.

Me?  I wish I can hire tutors.  That’s my homeschooling method which is used by many moms I know.  One mom I had just met when we were in Manila hires a tutor two hours a day to go over the academic materials with her children.  When I met her, I told her that’s exactly what I want to do.  I was able to do that easily in Manila because I know my way around but in China, my husband insists on teaching Chinese himself and for English, I’m the one who has to do it unless I get the Skype tutor again.

My husband doesn’t understand why I don’t want to continue homeschooling because I was the one who researched a lot about it.  That’s true but my research spans a wider field – alternative education which includes progressive and democratic schools.  Precisely why I am researching those because I also want an alternative, a back-up, in fact it’s my preferred choice to homeschooling.  I am researching those alternative schools because I want to quit homeschooling and put my children in a progressive school.  It would be great if there were options for a democratic school but there’s none in China or the Philippines.  And because there is none, that’s what I seek to establish in the future with my friend Donna.

The other stressful thing about homeschooling is the people around me who do not believe in it, who do not believe we are doing it well, who are getting stressed themselves that our children are missing school.  That for me is stressful, but not for my husband who does not get stressed by what other people think.  So maybe this is a call for me to practice that devil-may-care attitude.  It’s harder for me because I also think we are not the ideal candidates for homeschooling.  We are striving for that ideal and we fall short but that’s like everything else in life, right?

After a year of traveling and many years of switching homes, I was looking forward to settling down in Xishuangbanna.  We promised the kids that we’d find a house, get them into school and get a dog – in that order.  Now, my husband decided against that for valid family reasons.

I was so eager to live in a pretty place.  Dagang is not pretty.  It’s pretty ugly.  Sorry to say, but it is.  Living here for two years, I had to seek out beauty and found it.  As in any place, beauty is all around, in the streets and most importantly, in the hearts of many people who become friends.  But my mind had been conditioned to expect this physical paradise, this Shangri-La that we found and agreed upon that was Xishuangbanna.  Now, it escapes my grasp.

I have to switch my mind and re-program it to re-discover beauty, reconnect with friends and feel joy and happiness wherever in the world I am at.  Yesterday, we drove by the bleak, unpretty, blah landscape of the oilfields and I felt this lump on my throat and inside my head screaming, “No!!!  I can’t live in this place again!  What?  You’re asking me to live here again?  This hell hole?  I’m so over this place!  I’ve moved on!  We were supposed to live in X!”   I waited for the shrill, panicky voice to die down and get tired and waited.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Just like a child’s tantrum, I just let it scream its lungs out and then I was at peace.  I can rock this world again!

About the school issue?  Maybe I’m too flexible, too kind, too giving, too stupid.  Maybe I’m wrong to give in to my husband in the major decisions that I have not been able to win.  Maybe, it doesn’t hurt to be too flexible.  This is just another arena for me to flex my muscles.  I set about re-envisioning how this could work.

I mean look at this, I’ve got three hunks (one half-naked) making noodles for me!  Only in Tianjin.  Plus I’ve got a promise of a motorcycle ride through TEDA!

A Giant Shout-Out of Thanks, Gratitude and Appreciation

people to thank map

This cross-country voyage of 96 days and 10,200 miles (16,415 km) would not have been possible without the many family and friends who welcomed us into their homes, took time out to be with us and showered us with provisions.  People keep asking us which is our favorite place but I can’t think of any one impressive place although if you ask me if I could choose to live anywhere among the areas we visited, it’d be Imperial Beach.

However, my real favorite part of the trip is definitely meeting up and having long conversations with old and new friends.  Joshua and Jimmy also can’t think of one place which they like the most but what they like best is being with other kids, the numerous playmates along the way.  So in the end, it doesn’t matter where; it’s not so much about the place but about the people.

We have a lot of people to thank — for giving us shelter, for cooking for us, for treating us out and for letting Jason use their kitchen to whip up his magical Chinese meals.  He has blossomed into an ambassador of China making his love for hotpot and tea a contagious disease. More than the place, travel is about food, food, food, plus discovering people’s personal paradises more than mere sightseeing or ticking items off a bucket list.  Everyone’s warmth and generosity has touched and blessed our family.

Edmund and Darin, we carried your Marathon water bottles from the start to finish line.  The Chevy Avalanche was a dream to drive which through your help, we were able to find, purchase and sell.

Cotton and Bill, we look forward to more park dates with Jade and Noah in the future.  Noah’s shoes joined Jimmy in his adventures all the way to New York but we did part with the Lego along the way when the two kids fought over them.

Nanie, I hope you meet up with Cotton more often after our crazy night-out.

Tita Jona, the tent you gave us was the first one we ever had where we could stand up inside since it was so spacious.  Your pied-à-terre will forever be associated by the kids with their first encounter with Alexa.  Kwenby, it was fun recreating our pose from our seventies Sanrio days.  You’re the Hello Kitty to my Twin Stars.

Egay, the big bottle of peanut butter lasted and served us during emergencies and I wouldn’t have been able to figure out Spotify (which sustained the kids throughout the long drives) without you.  The kids never stopped singing the theme song from Steven Universe thanks to Gabbi‘s introduction.

Claire, your construction paper was transformed into thank you cards by Joshua and Jimmy in many stops.  Whenever we go through a gate that opens automatically by remote control, they think of you and throughout our trip, I found myself continuing our conversation in my head.

Danny, when we hear Broadway musical songs, we remember you and your 300-strong group.  What a happy night we had at your rehearsals!  Thank you for making it easy for us to see stars in Hollywood.

Tita Joesy and Tito Sonny, even if we missed seeing you, we are forever grateful that all your children warmly hosted us in their homes – Lareina in Thousand Oaks and Leo, Lil and Jay in Eastvale.  I remember how you were always raving proudly about them and now I understand why.  Jimmy enjoyed playing dress-up with your granddaughter Bella while Lauren was a great host to my sons.

Ate Badz, you know I’ve always wanted to meet Ismael and after seeing you two, I’m happy and inspired how the two of you take such good care of each other.  Sana ganun din kaming mag-asawa.

It was amazing serendipity how Bill Myers agreed to meet with us through the books given by a boy, Silas in Xishuangbanna.  Bill met with us bringing autographed copies of Secret Agent Dingledorf and even read for the boys.  Bill introduced to us, Jason, one of his students who happened to be from Tianjin. What are the chances, right?

Ashley, Jacob and Teddy, you are our first worldschooling family stop in the States.  Jimmy is always talking about how Minnie wakes him up by licking his face and we’ll never forget the ride on your tuktuk.  We look forward to hearing about your work-away adventure in Iceland and your travels through Europe and the rest of the world.

Tita Baby, what a feast you prepared for us!  Nijel and Elaine, how sweet of you to indulge in Jimmy’s obsession with Paw Patrol.  Tita Baby, we were able to catch our breath after two nights of camping and had a truly relaxing stay in your Las Vegas house.

Lesley, if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t have experienced living in a cozy mobile home and we wouldn’t have discovered this oasis of a community in the middle of the desert, complete with hot spring pools.  Beckett with his boundless energy was a good match for Joshua and Jimmy.  Lesley, thanks for ensuring that we have hosts in your other home in Calgary.

Nolan and Carter, Jimmy had a blast roaming and exploring the Mojave Desert with you guys.

Tammy, the ghosts of Virginia City will haunt us always, as well as your overflowing spirit of generosity and warmth.

Lisha and Collin, the boys enjoyed the big bonfire in the cold morning and getting the chance to chop firewood plus what a treat to tour Zoe and Nate‘s “forest school.”

Miranda, the boys tumbled down the stairs and went wild in the basement with Dexter and Theo who then enjoyed the stunt, off-road bike park with Joshua.

Lisha and Miranda, it’s refreshing to see the much simplified, sustainable lifestyle of your family which is in sharp contrast to the consumerism your countries are known for.  I had to google family cloth.

Danielle, I am so happy to meet Kurt at last!  Marion, I treasure our talk about Bah’ai and your mini musical concert with Danielle.  Jason enjoyed hearing the Chinese songs. Joshua sorely misses Toren.  I picture Danielle and Marion playing boggle and Toren on the trampoline.

Julia and Julio, our stay in your St. Cloud home was everything you said it would be – long and leisurely.  We blended in with the locals because of your generous preparations even before we arrived.  How could we ever forget Mhong night, two Easter egg hunts and the hilarious talk with Summer?

Vinny, your research laboratory was awesome and knowing you was even more awesome.

Kirsten and Ruben, you introduced our kids to Awana (where Joshua sang, danced and shopped) and you took care of them when we needed to rush to the city at night.  We are grateful for the playdates with Henry, Soren and Bjorn (Their Chinese level is amazing!) and for the sparkle box that kept us afloat.

Rinna and Chris, you know what a God-ordained meeting it was despite the unexpected.  Joshua and Jimmy now want to get a corgi because of Sir Ollie and Tommy.

Hossein, you held on tightly to your filmmaking dreams and look where it’s taking you – Cannes!  I appreciate listening to your story of perseverance and the universe conspiring to make things work in your favor. Jimmy enjoyed making homemade muffins with Laura and eating the strawberry crepes with Marjan who was a model older sister to Joshua and Jimmy.  It was lovely meeting Karen and seeing Kayhan and Janan so grown up.

Florence, we will be hanging your beautiful paintings on the wall of our new home.  So wonderful to bridge the gap of time and two continents.

Joanna and Jonathan, because of you we were able to try the best pizza in Chicago and bike ride to the school playground with Allyn, Dean and Dylan.

Ken, to add to our Nottingham memories, now we have sipping wine in your kitchen with Karen, boodle fight, hotpot in your home with a magnificent view, the maple syrup festival and our four kids enjoying themselves to the hilt.  JJ and Alicia, Moana songs form a special part of our trip because of you.

Lally, your invitation to the Royal Ontario Museum worked to keep the kids busy while we were able to catch up.  Without your help, I wouldn’t have known about nor had the opportunity to visit the Dr. Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School.  Your daughter, Avery was an excellent tour guide and I hope next time, she and Coco can play with Joshua and Jimmy.

May and Bill, from homemade beer to craft beer, what a chillaxing stay in Framingham which happened to be strategically located for my research work as well.  The boys love Aidric to bits. Even goodbye was chillaxing flying the styrofoam airplane.

Peter, who could sit through a boring, detailed discussion of the alternative schools I visited and listen to me blab about this education research?  Only you, plus the privilege comes with omelet, lake, forest and potential kayak trip if the weather was more cooperative.

Auntie Inyang, you spoiled us with your homecooked meals which took us back to the Philippines.  Uncle Pabling, you helped Jason get the Avalanche ready for the photo shoot.  While Uncle Pabling drove us to Jocelyn’s place, Auntie Inyang’s many stories kept me riveted.

Jocelyn and Paul, it’s like we made it to Cape Cod with your lobsters and a quick trip to Duxbury beach.  Kylie swings like Tarzan from a rope hanging from the tree and Jimmy kept asking for her days after our visit.

Rick, after several skype sessions with you about my PhD proposal, we finally meet in person and I get to update you how the thesis has evolved to become something else different.  Thank you for showing me YOUR Cambridge.

Gambel, hanep na daig lahat ng counselors at therapists na pinagsama-sama all in one plus more.  Jun, walang walang makakatalo sa sipag at sarap sa pagluto. Kara and GJ, my kids couldn’t have asked for better playmates.  Despite the age gap, you guys rocked their world!

Peggy, grabe perfect New York escape talaga.  Wala akong masabiMarion, please make sure Peggy gets your bike and gets into fencing.

Denise, the Supermom/Wonder Woman, I look forward to knowing where Basti will be heading in the future.

Tonyboy, June, Veronica and Sophia, best impromptu barbecue ever! Hope all goes well in the crossroads decision making we’re all praying for.  We’ll remember fondly how Abigail led us up and down the dam park and showed how to make stop-motion videos using her phone.

Ate Bigi doesn’t want any mention in blogs but I hope she knows how happy I am always to see her.

Tita Shereen gave something that she has been holding for me for over a year, the most precious gift of Ma’s book of selected quotes, “Thoughts in Times of Trouble.”

Ninang Lin, we were all thrilled to watch Lion King.  The kids savored kayaking, biking, feeding the swans and visiting the beach.  Max, they also had a freezing and short swim with Harry in the pool.

Jerry, we were bowled over when you brought out your foldable ping pong table that filled the living area, ping pong machine plus rolls of cardboard to contain the balls when they fell on the floor.  Joshua had a rollicking great time with you teaching him the moves while Jimmy “fell in like” with Auroja.  Finding the books on alternative education in Jerry’s home-office was a dream come true for me.

Acela, oh to be among those trees both on the ground in the arboretum and up in the air at the Adventure Park.  David, the barbecue was superb and the breakfast sustained us in the airport.  Bu, the purple shirt you gave Joshua is now one of his favorites, a souvenir connecting him to you.

Melody and Andre, I truly miss climbing mountains with you and though, we didn’t have time for a trek, seeing you even for a short time was enough to rekindle our AMCI days.

Mew Yee, you are living our New York dream in a “secret” island to boot!  Ning and Hue, I admire your way and patience with kids.  Kin Hui, I haven’t finished “Ego is the Enemy” but I got too curious about Ryan Holiday’s other book and started reading “The Obstacle is the Way.”

Cass, I really think you should publish your children’s books.  Matthew and Sophie are so lucky.  We were able to enjoy lying on the grass with Mew Yee while Choy and Jason had their men’s talk because there were two excellent babysitters equipped with bubbles.

Jeanette and Will, your brood of five, Janelle, Genevieve, Giana, Justin, Jessica, made Jimmy’s birthday wildly unforgettable.  If you didn’t let us “park” our kids at your place, I don’t know how we could have attended that forum in Princeton.

Tita Gloria, watching you cook in your kitchen brought back so many memories of our days with Lola Pilar.  Vincent and Anna, your three daughters are so bursting with talent.

Eric, thank you very much for Jimmy’s birthday cake “from America.”  Although we are sad parting with Eve the Avalanche, we are comforted by the fact that she is now with a wonderful family who will love her perhaps even more than we could because she will stay with you much longer.

Eve, just perfect-for-us Eve.

My dad was worried sick during this whole time we were travelling even if I kept re-assuring him that we’re okay.  He didn’t know we had so many angels taking such good care of us.  It was also my dad, mom and Tito Ahing who made this trip possible for our family for which we are eternally grateful.  Actually, we have to thank our whole family in China and the Philippines for understanding that we needed to undertake this trip.

I am sorry I wasn’t able to see Jan, Lloyd, Mel and Vibes in Vancouver.  I’m dreadfully sorry we missed Maisie in Windsor when we were so near in Toronto but she was on holiday back in China.  And I apologize we weren’t able to go down further from NY to visit Yancey in South Carolina and Rusty in Florida.


This pick-up truck was our home for three months.  Home is any place where the four of us are together. The people who welcomed us enlarged our hearts and our home.  Words are never enough to express our gratitude, so until next time!




Soul Saving Grace


I don’t know if they can appreciate the grandness of it all at their age – this massive piece of gorgeous park in the middle of a dense concentration of skyscrapers, giving sanity to the madness of concrete, glass and steel but it’s enough that they enjoy the playgrounds, boulders, grass and the bike ride that took us from the Museum of Natural History where parking was a bargain all the way to the south corner of the park to the reservoir and to northernmost portion and back to the parking lot which cost us $34 but would easily have cost double in other places so it was very much worth it lugging our own bikes on our pick-up truck to this magnificent model of urban design, urban recreation, urban soul-saving grace and generosity of Central Park.   How did five-year old Jimmy manage to complete the round?   Lots of breaks and bribes of hotdog, ice cream and telling him we’re almost there.



Tinkering at Last


After watching Gever Tully’s TED Talk about the Tinkering School, I wanted Joshua to try it out but we weren’t able to get into the one in San Francisco because enrollment is for a series of sessions and no drop-ins.  So I have been looking forward to the one in New York offered by the Brooklyn Apple Academy because it’s open to homeschoolers and it’s okay to take one class at a time.

Noah Mayer, founder of the Brooklyn Apple did a podcast about wanting to start a microschool and Gever Tully himself got in touch with him and helped him do just that. Now, the Brooklyn Apple is on its fifth year of operation and third year as a homeschool resource center. It started as a one-room schoolhouse with six students.  Noah found that he was not as adept at administrative and bookkeeping matters so he partnered with Cottage Class which is a network for microschools that help them with that side of the equation.

All over the world, teachers are reinventing education by starting independent schools, camps, classes and study groups to meet the needs of the children in their communities.  CottageClass is a community marketplace that connects families with these teacher-founders who are transforming our world.

The goal of CottageClass is to help all children reach their greatest potential through individualized instruction.

An average of eight children drop in the Brooklyn Apple every day.  Aside from four days of Tinkering, they have field trips on Wednesday, Minecraft meet-ups on Fridays and other activities from arts and crafts and stop motion animation and a whole lot of play determined and directed by the kids themselves with teachers there for support and guidance.

The workshop room is a dream come true for tinkerers who can pick up odds and ends and initiate a project, use the drill and other equipment but as Lyman Rhodes reminds, safety is always paramount.  Joshua doesn’t gravitate towards the workroom but ends up making buttons in the crafts room and chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen.  That’s the beauty of self-directed learning.  As his parent, I thought he’d tinker with the machines but instead, he excitedly shows me step by step how he made pins by cut-stamping out a comic book page and producing a button.   Lyman tells me that these cool buttons are sometimes sold by the kids in the bustling, commercial 5th Avenue right outside their building where pedestrians end up supporting the kids’ enterprise.

On the walls of the bathroom, one poster said “Livelyhood without slavery to the money economy.”  The deliberate misspelling points to the sad state of some forms of livelihood that suck the life out of a person, making it all about work for the sake of money rather than for the joy and love of doing the work.  In this age, it puzzles many people when some opt out of the system or refuse to join the rat race but the ones who do that see the world from a different perspective.  The teachers who start and run the microschools also view from an uncommon vantage point so they’d like to offer an alternative to the current education system.  They want to be able to listen better to each child, one child at a time.  They don’t want education to be about grades, test scores and outperforming each other.   They want to give back to childhood what childhood is losing.

Other posts about the Brooklyn Apple:

The Q’s School Tool: Part 4: The Brooklyn Apple Academy

Noah Apple@picbear

A Look at the Brooklyn Apple Academy

And if you just want to know more about microschools:

What’s the Next Big Idea? Microschool Networks

The Return of the One-Room Schoolhouse

The Rise of AltSchool and Other Microschools


Dream of Macomber


When we turned into the driveway and saw the big expanse of rolling green fields, Joshua and Jimmy jumped out of the car and rushed to join the kids playing football. Even though they were much smaller than the others, the two didn’t feel there was any difference as if they blended seamlessly.  I walked to a group of people under a tree and introduced our family as travelers driving from San Francisco to New York while researching alternative forms of education.  How many times have I repeated that line? How many times have I brought out my ratty, tattered, beaten-almost-to-a-pulp print-out of a map showing our route like a red mountain range to show as proof of our adventure as if our white pick-up truck topped with four bikes was not enough?  It’s time to print a new map and have it laminated but with less than a month to go, maybe it’s not necessary.

Hearing the yearnings of my heart, the universe arranged it so we lived in a friend’s house one minute away from Macomber Center, one of the non-traditional places of learning that I had on my list to visit.  Were it not for Peter Gray’s suggestion, I wouldn’t have run across Macomber in my endless google searches and researches.  Getting excited reading their website and then seeing it in the flesh was a dream actualized.  This was not a school but a hang-out place for homeschoolers who wanted to be part of a community.

Because it was so near, Joshua and Jimmy were able to join Macomber for two days while I sat, working on my laptop, blogging, absorbing the relaxed atmosphere and inspired to think of what could be in the future.  Ben Draper, the director of Macomber welcomed me while Dan Dick described the Macomber as “a community of responsible adults helping kids learn how to make choices and decisions.”

In the website, Alternatives to School, Ben Draper explains what the center is about:

We opened the Macomber Center in 2012 as a resource center for self-directed learners.  Most of us had come from a democratic school background so naturally some people assumed that we were taking the first steps towards creating a democratic school.  What started to interest us, however, was not the potential to move towards something familiar, but the opportunity to explore something new.  We wanted to remain open-minded and flexible about what we were doing and how we might evolve.  There are plenty of alternative schools out there; we wanted to provide a genuine alternative to school.

From the very beginning, we rejected the idea of school.  We had no interest in having to enforce an attendance policy, which all schools — even democratic schools– have to do.  We wanted kids to be able to come and go freely.  We wanted the center to be used only as needed and not to hold kids back from pursuing other interests out in the larger community.  We were not interested in handing out diplomas either.  We didn’t feel that kids should need our stamp of approval to move on in the world.  Instead, we felt that they should be the ones to determine when and how they were going to make the transition into adult life.

As a resource center, we provide an environment where the natural curiosity of kids is given free reign.  They are surrounded by acres of natural space and are given the time and freedom to explore.  They have access to the essential tools of learning: computers, books, art supplies, musical instruments, and science equipment.  They also have access to knowledgeable, helpful adults.

On the first day of my visit, I joined the workshop on slam poetry requested by one of the Macomber members.  A group of five teenagers listened to Amy Mevorach perform her beautiful poems like this one about the fear of performing.

Dorothy Bernard said ‘Courage is the fear that has said its prayers’

I believe fear is just wings that don’t know they can fly

Amy Mevorach

One of the students shared a recording she made of her poem.  I got encouraged by Amy who told us how different it is to perform poems versus keeping them silent in print.  I browsed my blog on my phone and read aloud my poem, something I haven’t done for many, many years.

My photos don’t do Macomber Center justice as I hesitate to take pictures with the students’ faces plus the weather wasn’t good on the second day we hung out there. Joshua, along with other kids got drenched in the rain.  I wish I can show you the vibrance of Denise’s photo albums that document their weekly activities but again, you can also check out their website.

Past five in the afternoon, while waiting for Jason to pick us up, one of the dads offered us a ride home. We started chatting while our kids continued playing. I told him about my interest in alternative education and he told me that he also considered Sudbury Valley School but he didn’t like that parents seemed discouraged from being involved in the school.  He, his wife and two kids are all happy with Macomber so much so that they are thinking of starting something like it where they live.  My friend, Laksmi and I are also doing something like Macomber for homeschoolers and unschoolers in the Philippines.

The more dots we connect in this network of self-directed learners, the better for all of us.




Isaac, Neo and Kai


Will Jimmy ever remember that he played with Isaac, preparing their favorite foods in the sand at Eau Claire, Wisconsin and that when it was time to leave, he wanted to send Isaac a thank you card? The next day, he still talked about Isaac and coincidentally, met another Isaac while climbing a boulder in a playground in Huntley, Illinois.  Will Joshua remember Jade and Neo who roasted mashmallows with him in Lapeer, Michigan?  Will Jimmy remember talking endlessly with Kai’s mom while swinging?  They may or may not but this blog will.

People have asked me why are we choosing to travel with our kids at this age (7 and 4) when they probably won’t remember any of it.  I posted this question in our Worldschoolers group page on Facebook and got tons of answers that if anybody asked me that query again, I’d have plenty to fish from or I’ll just share them this link for convenience.

Hi Guys. I was wondering if some of you encountered this comment — “Your kids are too young to remember any of these travels. Why don’t you wait until your kids are older?” How do you reply? Just wondering. : )


Karen King I have. And I know it’s true because my daughter doesn’t remember things we did when we first started travelling in 14 months. But traveling for us is not just about seeing the world, but loving our lives, experiencing new things and being happy. She will remember all the time she got with us when she was little. And she will remember growing up in a happy family where we have time for each other.

Sein-yat Chew My son was 4 when we went on a long trip, we were surprised how much he knew and remember from the trip after more than a year, I guess involving him during planning stage helps.

Bob Mahan So why do anything with your kids?

Marca Wesen Bondurant Yes, perhaps we should just lock them in a room until someone decides they are old enough to remember. lol

Marca Wesen Bondurant They may not remember the specifics, but the things they do will help shape them and how they see the world and others as they grow and develop.

Fiona Fernweh I read an article once and it said you say “then why read them bedtime stories or build sand castles with them because they don’t remember that either?”

Tamilla Cordeiro I have the same thoughts! But I always think back to my own childhood. I was born and raised in Russian until I was 7, when we immigrated to the States. People always ask, what do you remember about living in Russia? Well there was the cool trip we took to visit the Ukraine, and there were the summer vacations to Azerbaijan, and that time we went up on some mountains in who knows what country. My memories of my actual home in Moscow? The goodbye party in our apartment, right before the ride to the airport to fly out to the States. The point is, kids remember travel! More than “regular, routine life.” At least this kid did. 🙂

Alicia Urrea I always say “maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but I will remember this as one of the best times of my life”.

Karen M. Ricks For us, world travel isn’t about creating a singular memorable experience like a once-a-year vacation. It is a new way of life, an entirely different framework through which we view the world and our place in it. As such, it is truly a process that began at birth, and continues as a daily education for us all. I fear that anyone who is suggesting that you should “wait until your kids are older” does not understand the foundation you are building in your child, for your child, and with your child. My response would be to say that we travel for more than just happy memories.

Lori DiPippa DesRochers I let my 4 yo tell them about all the stuff we did on last summers road trip. But really, who cares if they remember the details. They will remember the culture and that there are different people around the world. It will help them grow into more tolerant and understanding adults.

Carrie Blunden A quote I once read about teaching comes to mind – ‘They won’t remember the words you say or what you taught, but they’ll remember how you made them feel’. My girls are 5 and 3 and it blows me away to think they’ll very likely remember nothing of their lives up until this point when they’re older. But the adventures and sense of wonder we have, the love we show them and the connection we develop as a family in these formative years shapes them and stays with them forever. Hopefully! Haha

Barbara Ber I actually travel because I love travelling. Doesn’t matter if they remember anything. But they will remember values, open mindedness, different food and the lifestyle itself. Therefore we choose destinations that we like plus are child friendly, but it’s not the focus to go to places only kids like.

Melanie Mather Normally I say something like ‘I see this as a foundation just like taking the to the park to learn about interacting with other and learning motor skills.’

Janna Fesolai No but you’ll remember it. The smiles/laughs/experiences/new sights/sounds. Your kids eating weird food/playing with foreign children etc etc. Plus photos and videos are amazing. I still look back at photos when we lived in the pacific islands as a child. I feel grateful. We have those memories. It’s amazing how pictures and videos can trigger memories too.


Monique Maree Isn’t it about so much more than creating tangible memories? What about intrinsic wonder? Sense of adventure? Spontaneity and flexibility?

Cassandra Artemissa I remind them that it isn’t simply about memories, but how it shapes their forming minds.

Denise Ankersen Yup. I hear this a lot. They may not ‘remember’ but it has shaped their view of reality.

First Christmas in Phnom Penh ALL four of our children did not have ONE single thing on their ‘wish list’. (5-14 years old at the time.)

Penny Smith This. This is a fabulous reason. Clearly their needs are met and they are happy without need to focus on material things 🙂

Christie Ogden So does that mean that you shouldn’t do Christmas or other holidays or take little ones anywhere because they won’t get anything from it?

Everyone gets SOMETHING out of travel. Just because a little one doesn’t get what you got out of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth taking them. We went to a tourist attraction with a friend the other day. My two year old is thrilled he got to play in water! Not what I got out of it, but not any less valuable of an experience!

Danielle Gallart Herter Knowing they have been somewhere creates interest in kids, Even if they don’t remember it. Look back at pictures and telling stories. My kids love hearing about the places they’ve been.

Vicky Scarth I say “well this isn’t going to be the only trip we ever go on” and then that it gives my son a sense of worldliness

Natalie Chen I tell them then it’s the same as taking them to the park, or reading them bedtime stories. What they see is the expense and not the experiences and family time that shapes them into the global citizens we hope they become

Denise Ankersen I LOVE so many of the answers here. <3. This is such an amazing group of people.

Sigrid Regina Sturm I always find that a weird argument… I have heard it before.. we will travel when the kids are older, so they will remember. Yes, but in the early years, I think it has an even bigger impact. It shapes how they see and discover the world. Their approach to people, new enviroment, different smells, tastes and so on…

Fay Andrews-Buckley I say in that case there’s no need to tell them you love them, give them birthday parties/ presents, send them to preschool or play with them or bother doing anything with them is there? they may not remember EVERYTHING but the experiences help shape them and they remember aspects and things that are important to them. when my son was 3 we took him to NCY (one place he seems to have loved) at 6 now he can still remember the huge buildings, the room number of our apartment, the subway trains, a specific toy and the giant ferris wheel in toys R us etc, and all that without having talked about it or looked at any photos (we never print them ect) so that’s pure memory…

Amanda Real Kids don’t have to remember something to be influenced by it. Our experiences shape who we are, whether we remember them or not.

Amanda Cardwell Carones A) because i love traveling and hope to instill this love of adventure in my kids  B) these experiences help to shape their view of the world and the people they will become  C) they may not remember the places they traveled, but they will remember doing things together. Plus I will have the memories of doing these things with them.

Crystal Anderson I say the first 5 years help set foundations for the rest of their life’s

Dezirea Noker Just remember how enriching and nourishing experiences are for little brains and bodies. They won’t remember the experiences but those experiences ARE shaping their brains, their personalities, their whole lives ♡

Carolina Day Why don’t we wait till the kids are older to teach them anything?!? Seriously. If they’re not going to remember, why bother doing ANYTHING with them ever. Just shove them in a room and feed them bread and water 🙂

Imogen Moore I never quite understand this comment but yes I’ve heard it a lot. My kids probably wouldn’t remember if I beat them every day until their 2nd birthday either but I bet it would have an effect on who they are!

Marie Red My husband remembers things from when he was very young and so do i

I actually remeber (more a feeling memory ) being fed milk while my mum sang a certain song to me when i was under a year old . I asked her why I got a taste of warm milk when I heard a specific hymn at church and she was shocked and told me she used to feed me warm milk and sing that song to me as a baby .

My kids have all remembered travels from when they were 2.5-5 years old . They remember

Keri Lewis Wellman We thought about it, but the kids won’t fit in the storage unit 🙂

Gràcia FD That’s why I never hug or kiss my kids or play with them. They won’t remember anyway.

Harmeet Kaur Sidhu So good to hear, what I so often have to say! Some of you might enjoy this……/travelling-with-young…

Travelling With Young Children: It’s Not to Make Marvellous Memories‏


Christie Cho I use to think this way. Then I asked my mom of an incident to find out I was only 3 when it happened. It was to a friend, I was just there. It effected me in a way I remember it.

Profound experiences might get tucked away for a while, but they eventually come back

Katharina Nickoleit I told them that we can see how open minded our son was, how easily he made new contacts and how quickly he settled into new situations. Teachers snd caretakers very well noticed all of that and still do so.

Debora Oliveira Goodness if that was the case I wouldn’t go anywhere. I have a horrible memory… I recall very little of my childhood, the only little facts I remember were about adventures…

Laura Roberts I have one who can recount trips and details that were not documented when she was 1.5-2 yrs old! My other can’t remember what we did last weekend though until he’s reminded by someone else. 😂 But that is maybe one of the most ignorant questions I’ve heard, right along with homeschoolers being isolated and unsocialized. Quite the opposite!

Damaris Crespo-Ramos I would say to the person “you might be right but what if you’re not? I wouldn’t want to risk denying my child that great experience just because a what if. After all it’s MY responsibility to educate he/she how I see fit and either way it won’t hurt to try.”

Stephanie Solowiej Every experience is based on the previous experiences. It’s not about remembering the experience, rather its one long moment. If the world ends tomorrow will we have lived our life to the fullest. When I can say yes then I have no fear. Life is valuable and worth living. When we aren’t living we are afraid. Afraid to miss out. Because we are not living. But when we are living we are not afraid. 🌷

Kelly Susan Kumar Same reason they go to museums, art shows, libraries, concerts, field trips, and travel since babies….not only do they enjoy it they are also cultivated to these things! Plus it’s our family culture and memory making…they love the stories as they get older and share them when they meet someone from a place they visited which creates social ties, like…learning to swim and ice skate in the Philippines…losing a first tooth in Singapore…it’s fun to remember!!!

Teresa Hardy He won’t remember everything, no. But that is no reason not to do it. I get asked this a lot and I just tell them that all our experiences shape who we are, even the ones we don’t remember. Do you remember your mother holding you as a baby? No, but you know she did, you have that bond with her because of it.

Shelley Brewer Semple I think one of the biggest mistakes is believing kids are too young to remember. I face it constantly parenting my child who experienced childhood trauma. I’m a big advocate at promoting the fact that kids are never too young to remember. They may not have conscious memories, but their brains are forever altered by all experiences. For the good with amazing, positive experiences, or for the bad with abuse, neglect, trauma… children are NEVER too young to remember. Travel has been amazing for my children. And to be honest, I barely remember all the details of trips I took even as an adult. That’s why I take pictures.

Kristen Mosteller Say…so what am I supposed to do just sit in a room with them doing nothing until they remember things?

All experiences are shaping them into the people they will become and also as a parent you deserve these memories with them.

Lisha Fitz Well… I agree with that statement. And there are some trips we are choosing to postpone for the reason that I’d like them to be able to remember it (africa, europe). I also think that the experience molds them into the person they are- but while they are young (2&4) we tend to choose more beach destinations as it is more ‘fun’ and requires less maturity.

Jessica Headlee Helps shape them into well rounded, (hopefully) grateful human beings.

Rosemary Javier Yanez So much of who your children are is formed in the youngest years. Why not make sure that they are the best they can be?

Katherine Mulvaney They’ll remember their parents being joyous and excited about life.

Casandra Anthony Response 1: “They’ll be too young to remember according to whom? Who said that? Show me at least 3 credible research studies that says they don’t remember childhood experiences. I’ll wait.”

Response 2 (for those people that just won’t let it go): “So with that logic you’re saying a child that was molested or assaulted at an early age doesn’t remember or internalize those experiences?”

Maggie Alexander “So should we lock our kids in the closet and not do anything fun until they can remember?”…/7-reasons-why-travel-is…

7 Reasons Why Travel Is Never ‘Wasted’ On Young Kids


Sarah Yothers photos and great storytelling. My kids still sing japanese songs to themselves at night though we’ve been gone for 3 years. They were raised there and were 2 and 4 at the time. But they remember. They will catch a smell of a woven rug or something that smells like tatami in a store and their olefactory will remind them instantly of a memory in Okinawa (because smell is so powerful and bypasses the amygdala in memory storage). The beats of drums in Uganda or the bird songs in Brazil. These things will be deposited in their brains even if they don’t really recall it until later.

Mariana Page Learning starts at a young age. You are not also traveling for memories, but for learning and experiences.

Nicole Kingsleigh you’ll remember! You could argue that kids won’t remember the toys they had so why buy them any! It’s about living in the moment and enjoying life.

Tara West So your baby is too young to remember your love and affection so just prop it in a self containing pod until it is old enough to remember. Uh…no.

Stacy Holt Yes, most kids don’t remember things when they are that young. But then who would want to remember the daily life in preschool? It’s kinda boring and monotonous. But when they can see, smell, and touch another place, believe me, it’s worth remembering to them. And if they don’t remember after a while, they will still keep those memories long enough to shape who they become.

Allison Pregon Kinahan I think traveling and exposure to different things like plays, ballets, operas makes the child. It instills a love of life a love of learning. Traveling with children has so many wonderful benefits. It teaches them how to transition from one situation to another, how to problem solve, how to be patient, occupy time, try new foods, respect new cultures and arts, how to make new friends and interact with people, it teaches them to navigate the world. It’s an amazing gift to be able to give this life to a child.

Deany Goode It’s true. My son doesn’t remember trips taken before age five. Why argue.

Angela Ressa Because life is happening now.

Melissa Arnold I would just laugh and say I don’t think that will be an issue we will probably be onto Mars trips by then, besides if the kids really feel they want to travel when they are older (assuming we stop for some reason) they could always just…travel lol + theres all the benefits that have probably already been mentioned above 🙂

Merei Milbee They don’t have to remember the trip to get the lifelong benefits of having learned what you learn when you travel or of having the quality time together that’s made possible by travel.

Colleen Jepsen They remember the feelings of being with family. Also an understanding that being with family is fun, learning is fun, and the world is not scary.

Maree Chase-Laukka My children are aged 23 and 12 years we have traveled abroad to many countries since they were both around the age of 3 months old and we continue to travel together as well as independently they’re not scared of new destinations, my children love traveling. My eldest has a career in the aviation industry and my youngest is aspiring to be a pilot he is due to start flying lessons when he turns 13 yo.

My children don’t remember every holiday but when they do recall memories they are filled with happiness and laughter

Travel is such a gift of freedom

And adventure it’s bound with priceless experiences.

It’s your life, do want you want with it you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.

Kathrine Howard Miller I grew up going on weekend “field trips” since I was born with my dad. I remember most of them but beside that I think the most important thing I learned was the love of experiences. If kids grow up with experiences I think they crave more. Not having fear of new places and people but know it is a learning experience and is exciting. Kids pick up on that at very young ages.

Belinda Carreras Smile and say, “That’s interesting.”  Proceed to take my children on another trip.

Shella Zelenz First of all, why do they care? What’s it to them? I didn’t realize I was having to do things in order to please anyone else. My kids and I are very happy, so I’m not sure what their point is. Well, I do know. It’s their own stuff and they are projecting it all over you.

Rob Tullis My wife wrote about this about 3 years ago before we left, I have to say it all rings true after almost 1100 days of traveling. There are a few links at the bottom to others who also wrote about this topic…/

Why Travel When Mak Won’t Remember? – The Expat Experiment


Aria-Jayde Shady I understand both sides of this argument.

Cissy Sanders From my own experience, I remember very much of our travels in Mexico and Central America when I was between the ages of 5-8 yrs old. My single mom would take my sister and I out of school in May and drive from south Texas through Mexico to El Salvador and Guatemala in the 70s. I was between the ages of 5-8. We lived in a house in El Salvador during the summer and then would drive back to Texas. Those early travels along with my mom’s love for travel is who I’m doing Worldschooling now. Kids absorb more than you think – the smells, the noise, the light levels, the food, the language. It’s all very vivid as a child.

Melinda Saunders I was ‘world schooled between the ages of 5-7. I remember a lot of it. In fact people used to comment on my vivid memory. We toured the world, from Australia round the Pacific Islands through America down to the Med then through Europe!!

Lauren Arikan They’ll always have the passport and the pictures. We took my daughter to Paris at 2… she remembers things in detail at 10. The city had such an impact on her. As did the bakeries. 😂

Amy McDonald Our earliest years are our most formative years. Experiences are not always about making sure we remember them. They are about making sure they mold us into who we want to be.

Lnk Witz Not even I will remember much 😀 But everything leaves some kind of mark, impression, feeling… Or you can make friends, talk to people who have something to say, find new and interesting hobby… I think it is very close minded to look at it from the point of “remembering”. Every single thing in life has an influence and impact on future. Things won’t be the same. Neither we will.

Three Bonuses Plus


Originally, I didn’t plan on visiting any school in Minnesota for my independent research work on alternative education.  However, because Julia introduced me to Kirsten and Summer and in turn, Kirsten introduced me to Katie and Owana, I was able to see three amazing places of learning in the non-traditional mold.

Classical Conversations (CC) supplies audio, book and other materials for homeschoolers and builds communities among its users such as the one thriving in St. Cloud.  Every Tuesday, the children gather for lessons in the morning for those in the lower grades and for the higher grades, they have additional afternoon classes.  The teachers are trained in the CC method and the parents are welcome to sit in so they know how to apply the techniques at home.

In the lower years, CC entails a lot of memorization but it’s done in a fun way with songs, actions and games that it simply bowled me over how much kids pick up. Joshua, Jimmy and I joined the class of kids age 6 to 8 and they were singing about the Laws of Thermodynamics, conjugating Latin verbs, identifying countries in Africa and spouting world historical facts naturally.  The mini-class ended with a show and tell presentation by each student and with a final review game.  Just sitting in for an hour and a half made me dizzy as if I had attended the whole spectrum of grade school and high school crammed with knowledge.

The kids don’t have to understand everything they memorize but the course immerses them in the vocabulary that they would be studying more in-depth in the future.   In the afternoon, we attended a mom and son duo dissecting a cow’s eyeball and the thirteen- year old boy eagerly fished out his folder and showed us his drawings of the eye, heart, respiratory and skeletal system.

The morning started with a big group discussion about the bible and two young people talked about the instruments they played.  After that, the kids broke up into smaller classes of around ten.  Before lunch, they went back to the big group and tested the strength of bridges each group made of straw and tape the previous week.  They placed one stone at a time as everyone counted loudly in excitement as some bridges fell right away while others held up well.  After all the bridges were tried, they discussed what made the winning bridge better than the others.


My friend Julia introduced me to Kirsten and Summer.  Kirsten has three sons attending the Chinese Immersion Program at the Madison Elementary School and they spoke Chinese fluently since they had been studying it from Kindergarten to Second Grade without any English classes to dilute the experience.  They only started learning English formally in Third Grade to bolster their Chinese but their English doesn’t fall behind because it’s what they speak at home and outside school.

Summer teaches First Grade at the Chinese Immersion Program and it was amazing how her classroom transports you immediately to China.   The seven-year old kids can speak, read and write Chinese almost as if they were native speakers.  Some of them could write not only Chinese characters but entire sentences.  Summer took full command of the class and maximized the use of the electronic board.  It was so awe-inspiring that I wish Joshua and Jimmy could attend her class.

It’s strange and ironic that I’m both inspired by the CC homeschooling and a public school’s language immersion program.  Is there a way to combine the best of not only both worlds but all worlds?   Imagine I still have a number of schools to visit in the remaining thirty seven days of this journey.

Kirsten invited us to Awana which takes place every Wednesday night.  We entered Discovery Church in St. Cloud and were swept away by everybody’s hospitality and warmth.  Joshua joined Soren and Bjorn at the Sparks group while Jimmy joined the pre-school age Cubbies.  After listening to the pastor speak, the Spark kids went up on stage singing praise songs following gestures on the video.  Joshua was right in the middle and even if he didn’t know the songs, he sang along as if he did.  The best part of the night was the Store where the kids could purchase toys using the “money” they earned throughout the weeks of attending Awana.  They could earn this through memorizing bible verses and other tasks.

Awana is a global, nonprofit ministry with fully integrated evangelism and long-­term discipleship programs for ages 2 to 18 that actively involves parents and church leaders. Each week, more than 3.7 million children and youth, 470,000 volunteers and 260 field staff take part in Awana in over 47,000 churches around the world. Offered through local churches, Awana reaches kids where they’re at and walks alongside them in their faith journey.

Julia took us to celebrate Easter at her Church where Jimmy joined other kids while the adults attended service.  After the celebration, we went to pick up Jimmy and he repeatedly kept saying “Jesus is alive!” showing us the cup he made from where Jesus on a popsicle stick symbolically pops out from the dead. The facilitator in that class must have been an excellent one to have produced such an avid reaction.