Today we are introducing ourselves, The King Family. We began our Worldschooling adventures in early 2016, when we realized that there just had to be more to life than living a groundhog day existence!
Upon discovering the words Location Independence and Worldschooling – life changed in ways we could never have dreamt.
4.5 years on we’ve traveled to over 32 countries, completely more than 50 house sits for free accommodation and had some incredible adventures along the way! From hiking the great wall of china and swimming with manta rays in Indonesia, to exploring a concentration camp in Germany and 4wding in the desert sands of Egypt, learning first hand through experience and following our passions has allowed us to create a life that far exceeded our wildest expectations.
We love helping others discover Worldschooling, and this was the inspiration for Worldschooling Central. What is Worldschooling like for our family… let us tell you more!
Hey, everyone, I’m Karen King, creator of Worldschooling Central. I’m an Aussie, a mum, a wife, an entrepreneur, and a worldschooler. I have a 15-year-old son Brody, a nine-year-old daughter Sienna, and also my husband Cam. Together we run Worldschooling Central.
When did you start world schooling?
We’ve now been world schooling for nearly four and a half years. So we spent all of 2015 selling everything that we owned – we had a business, a house, everything inside the house, cars… you name it. So 2015 was a year of just selling everything. And then in early 2016, we hit the road, so to speak, and headed to Perth in Australia, first of all, Then the United Arab Emirates, then through Europe and beyond. And now we’re sitting here in Panama.
Click here to learn more about Worldschooling!
Why did you start world schooling?
We started world schooling because we just wanted more out of life. We had a great life, but we weren’t enjoying ourselves. I kind of felt like something was missing. And so we went on a vacation; we took a seven-week trip and during that time, I discovered the phrase “location independence” – living and working from anywhere in the world. That then opened up into world schooling and teaching the kids through travel and experience. So that then led to us selling everything we owned and leaving Australia in early 2016, to travel full time.
What is Worldschooling?
To me, worldschooling is learning through experience. So, getting out of the classroom, traveling, and learning from the world around you. Learning traditionally happens within the four walls of a school. But the reality is that we all learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And honestly, I feel like school kind of squishes the desire to learn out of a child. So world schooling takes them out of the classroom and into the real world. They learn everything that they would learn at school through experience. And when you incorporate that with travel as well, the opportunity for learning and growth is endless.
What was life like before Worldschooling?
Life before world schooling… we were living, I guess what most people would call the “Aussie Dream” (much like the American Dream). We had a beautiful home that we’d built, we had great jobs, we had a business, two cars, the kids were doing well. But we were unhappy. We were living, as we now refer to it as, a Groundhog Day existence. We were working too hard. We were stressed, not enough time with the kids, and just really, really unhappy. And so at that point, we decided we needed to make some changes. And that’s when we discovered world schooling.
How did you prepare to start once you decided to Worldschool?
Once we decided to start world schooling, it was about a 12-month journey for us. I mean, we could have left sooner, but we had a lot of things that we had to do. We had to sell our business first… we had to sell our house… we put a whole bunch of stuff into storage (which we’ve since gotten rid of) and cleared out everything that we had. And by early 2016, pretty much everything was gone. And so we headed off into the big wide world.
What questions did you have before you decided to Worldschool?
When we first considered world schooling, we had so many questions. One of the big ones for me was based around their education. I did 18 years of formal education and so the idea of not having a formal education with curriculum and testing and everything else that comes with it was way outside of my comfort zone. So questions like, how will my daughter learn to read? If she’d stayed in the mainstream schooling system, she would have started school the following year, and in that first year, she would have learned how to read. So I was really nervous if I would be able to teach her to read and to me, that was like the ultimate test of our Worldschooling success!!
I had loads of other questions too. Just around the costs and the logistics and how to really make it happen. But for me, I think the biggest focus was around their education. Having said all of that, I’m kind of the type of person that figures things out as she goes, so to speak. So I knew all of that would work itself out. As we got closer to the launch date, I got pretty nervous, pretty scared that we were making a big, big mistake. But you know, we got there in the end, and honestly, it’s been the most incredible 4.5 years and it is, absolutely, without a doubt, the best thing that we’ve ever done, I just wish we’d done it sooner.
How did friends and family react?
When we started worldschooling, friends and family were incredible. They were very supportive. I do remember being very nervous to tell my dad that we were selling everything and heading off but he loves to travel as well, so he was very supportive. The same goes for the rest of the family. So we’ve been very fortunate because I know a lot of families do struggle in this area. I think a lot of families wish that they could do it as well and in a big way. That’s why we founded Worldschooling Central. Because we want to show families that anybody can do this. We didn’t have a lot of money. There was nothing special about us. We just made the decision that we wanted more from life, and that we weren’t prepared to settle with our Groundhog Day existence anymore. We wanted to get out there and see the world and really live our lives in a way that you just can’t do in a traditional type of lifestyle.
What is Worldschooling like in your family?
We travel full time. We left Australia and just travel full time from place to place, typically a month in each location. And then about 12 months ago, we set up a base in Panama. So we now have a place we can come back to, one that is a lot closer to the rest of the world than Australia, and it’s a place where we can come home, have some downtime, get some work done, and then we go out and travel again.
So I guess you could say we are part-time Worldschooling if you look at the amount of travel we do, however, we live in a foreign country, and maintain our Worldschooling mindset so we see ourselves as full-timers!
How do your kids learn?
Learning for our kids is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is no set time or structure to be completely honest. Everything we do is a learning opportunity. And you know, we don’t make a big song and dance about it… like “now we’re learning”. But everything we do turns into an opportunity to learn. So, you know, just living life. My daughter learned to count going up and down subway steps in Europe. We’re living in Panama so we’re naturally having to learn Spanish. Cooking! My daughter loves to cook and this has taught her fractions. Our “schooling” has included math sheets, which I didn’t think would be a part of our travels, but my daughter loves maths. And there are times where she likes to pretend she’s at school. So she comes and asks us to write up sheets and sheets and sheets of maths sums for her to do.
For my son who’s a bit older, he follows his passions in whatever form that is. YouTube is a huge resource for us as is Google. And it’s just about following whatever their interests are.
When we went to Berlin, as we prepared to travel there, we watched some documentaries about Berlin. And that led to loads of different questions, even for myself. And that’s something that surprised me… just how much I would learn from this experience. I knew the kids would learn a lot but I didn’t realize that I would benefit from World schooling as well.
So our kids learn through experience. So instead of sitting down and reading out of a book, they learn from experience from doing, from being, from touching, and just being in a place and learning things firsthand. Truly experiencing things. And as a result, it stays with them in a way that just doesn’t at school.
What were your initial plans for educating the kids?
Our initial plans for educating the kids were very structured. I’d come out of 18 years of traditional schooling myself, so I was looking for curriculum. I was looking at basically replicating school at home. And what I discovered was that that just didn’t work. It did nothing but cause arguments. And because we’d deschooled for six months, during that time, we had discovered that the kids were learning just through experience. So initially, I planned a more formal education, but that quickly went out the window.
It took a long time for me to be comfortable with that. Everything in the back of my head was saying, “oh, they should be doing testing. They should be sitting down and doing more work.” It took a long time for me to trust in their ability to learn naturally, but they do and when I got to the point where I could relax and let that happen, our experience changed dramatically. It’s simply incredible what they learn naturally through their experiments and their own experiences just by following their passions.
How has the way you educate your children changed over time?
Worldschooling for our family has changed quite a lot over the years. When we first started we spent six months deschooling, where we didn’t do any formal education. So their “learning” was just about getting out and experiencing life. We learned pretty early that world schooling is not a vacation, it’s living your life in another country. You get tired quickly if you try to vacation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So it was about figuring out how our lives fitted into this new life, so to speak.
How do you cope being together 24/7?
When we first started traveling, I was nervous about being together 24/7. I’ll be honest… I was kind of scared that being together all the time would drive me crazy. And it was really interesting because it didn’t at all. And at about 6, maybe even 12 months, I remember thinking one day “wow, we’ve been together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And it’s just been incredible.” We make sure we have time to do our own thing and have our own space. We have down days where the kids will go off into their space and do whatever they want. I’ll go off and do whatever I want, as will Cam. So we’re not physically together 24/7…. we do have time to ourselves. I think that’s a vital part of the equation. But I tell you, just being and experiencing things together is amazing and just something that I just couldn’t regret because it’s just such valuable time together.
What are the biggest benefits of Worldschooling?
I would say that the biggest benefits of world schooling are learning from experience… learning HOW to learn. Also having valuable time with your family in a way that you just cannot, living an ordinary life back home. The friends you make, the experiences that you have, and above everything, truly living.
I got to the end of our very first year… I remember it was Christmas and we were in China housesitting. And I remember thinking we’d been to something like 18 countries in that year, and it was the first time in a long time that I truly felt like we’d lived… not just existed, but really lived our lives. The number of experiences, the stories, the memories, and everything that we’d created in that 12 months… there was so much packed into that year. To me, that is really living and making use of every single day that we had.
Beyond that, it has just helped us grow as a family in a way that I didn’t even know we needed to. I thought we had wonderful relationships, but what I’ve discovered is that we are all so much closer. My husband and I had some trouble over during this period, but as a result of everything that we’ve done, we’re in a better place today than I think we’ve ever been. I’m closer to my kids than I could have ever hoped for. And I think that’s something that will stay with us throughout the rest of our lives. I feel like we’ve got this kind of base to go from now. And, you know, we can just kind of hang out together and be happy together. And we don’t have to be doing loads of stuff together. We love being in each other’s company. Not all the time, of course, but most of the time! And, you know, we were just we’ve reached this point where day to day life is so much more enjoyable and we’re a stronger family as a result of doing this.
What are the biggest challenges you faced while Worldschooling?
One of the biggest challenges for us has been the financial side of things. We didn’t set ourselves up well before we left, we kind of jumped in and planned to figured it out later, so to speak, which is how I’ve always operated. So that’s been an ongoing process.
Beyond that, the internet! Internet has caused us some dramas over the years. But with every challenge we’ve faced, there has always been an answer. The answer just comes.
I think that is something that has happened as part of our world schooling lives… we’ve become very adaptable. And as a result of that, we just kind of go with the flow. And so if something comes up, then we figure it out. Not to say that we don’t have our moments where we’re somewhere and we’re stressed and grumpy and all of those sorts of things. But on the whole, I would say I’m definitely more patient. And, you know, we just kind of go with the flow a lot more than we used to.
Worldschooling isn’t all happy families all the time. We argue. We get grumpy. I probably yell too much. But I did all of that back home in Australia as well. And I would much rather be doing that in Rome and, you know, Spain and the United Arab Emirates, and Mexico and Panama and all these amazing places that we’ve visited. We’re still an ordinary family, we still have our ups and downs, but that’s part of life. And we just happen to have chosen this way of life and get to have amazing adventures at the same time.
How do you create community as your worldschool?
One thing I didn’t foresee when we started traveling was how many amazing people we would meet along the way. I guess I kind of pictured this as the four of us traveling, moving from country to country. And it didn’t dawn on me just how many other people we would connect with along the way. And in all honesty, I’ve made more friends in the last 4.5 years, than I probably have in the 40 odd years before that. So much so that we now run community trips for World schooling families.
We love connecting with other families. We love bringing people together. In April of 2019, we ran a trip through the islands of Indonesia, for 39 people. And then in November of 2019, we ran another trip through Egypt. It was so surreal, being in Egypt and standing in front of the pyramids. And what made it even more special was that we were able to do it as a community with a group of world schooling families. So if anybody has any concerns that they’re going to be lonely on the road, please put that out of your mind because there is a huge world schooling movement and if you find that you need a little bit more interaction with other families, there are major hubs around the world where you can go and connect. And of course, trips like ours that you can take part in to create a community for you and your family.
How do your kids socialize?
My kids are so incredibly well socialized. And it’s because of world schooling. They’re not in a classroom with 25 or 30 other kids their own age, they’re out in the world, living their lives, socializing with people of all different ages, be that a two-year-old or a 90-year-old. Both of them can communicate effectively, and we’ve had so many compliments from people about the way they hold a conversation. Many adults have said, “I’ve never had a conversation with a nine-year-old like I just did with Sienna”. And so that’s something that I didn’t see coming. It does challenge some adults who are not used to having conversations of that sort of level with a nine-year-old. But I’m so proud of who the kids are becoming and I would never change this experience for anything in the world, given who they’ve become so far.
What qualities do you see in your children since you started Worldschooling?
I’ve seen so many changes in the kids since we started to travel. I think the first thing that I saw in Brody was when we pulled him out of school, he’d finished grade five. And what I didn’t realize was that the education system had completely killed his natural love of learning. We didn’t take them out of school because we had any issues with school. We took them out because we wanted more out of life. But what I discovered when we did was that anything around learning had a negative connotation. And it took us a long time to get him back to a place where just that natural curiosity led him to learn without the negativity attached to it.
They are very confident people. They have this incredible ability to learn whatever they want. I’m not their teacher. My husband’s not their teacher. They direct their learning. We guide them, we help them find the tools to do what they want to do. But at the end of the day, all of their learning is self-directed, which is an incredible gift for them to have and an incredible skill to have as they move into their lives. This lifestyle has given them the ability to just learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s no negativity associated with it, and when they want to know something, they just go and figure it out or go and find out how to do it.
How much does Worldschooling cost?
When we were living in Australia, for a very basic lifestyle, we were spending $4500AUD/$3000USD. That was sort of bare basics. No going out for dinner, no vacations, nothing like that. For the first few years of travel, we were averaging $3000AUD/$2000USD per month to world school full time, which included everything. All of our travel, all of our experiences, eating out, etc. We have house sat throughout our travels which has given us essentially free accommodation. So really, Worldschooling is actually much cheaper than living an ordinary life at home in Australia.
How do you fund your Worldschooling adventures?
It’s been so many different things across the years. I used to be really career orientated and I put a lot of effort into my work… I wanted promotions and all of those sorts of things but it meant long hours. In all honesty, today, it’s just more about “what do I have to do to have the money to keep traveling?” So over the years, that’s looked like so many different things. We’ve built courses, we’ve done a bit of affiliate marketing, we’ve done remote Jobs. So many different things. It’s just about making the decision that you want to do this and finding a way.
Initially, it was living off our savings. We left, we’d sold our house and my husband got made redundant, so we had a payout from that. So we started traveling using that money and the whole plan was that I’d build up an online business and that would fund our travels. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. And after a couple of years, we ended up going back to Australia because we’d run out of money. We kept traveling up and down the East Coast of Australia but we went back to basics and started a new business. We joined an online marketing course which taught us how to do marketing and that led to a job with them which provided some additional money. Now we’re working with friends in their startup business. And of course, building Worldschooling Central as well.
So it’s been a real mixture of things over the years. I would recommend to anybody who’s thinking about doing this, start investigating those methods now. Figure out how you’re going to fund this now because there have been periods where the bank accounts have gotten pretty low, and that causes stress that nobody is going to enjoy. So if you have ways to set yourself up financially before you leave, that’s great, but I’m a very impulsive person, so I kind of jump in and figure out how to make it happen later.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you started?
I wish that I had known that school can be incredibly detrimental to children. I didn’t take the kids out of school because we had any sort of issues with the school system. We were very supportive. We were living an ordinary life to the best of our abilities and the school system is what we knew. So we trusted that they were learning.
Since leaving, though, it’s scared me… the negative impact that schooling had, particularly on Brody because he went up to grade five. And that’s not to say that the teachers weren’t doing a great job or that the kids’ Brody was connecting with weren’t great in themselves. It’s the whole system… that forces education on them forces them to sit down and shut up and learn. Like, now it’s math time and now it’s science time. Well, you know what, my daughter’s ideal learning time is 11:30 at night, that’s when she’s switched on. That’s when things stick. So forcing children to learn, I’ve learned since starting to world school, is not effective. And I’m quite passionate about that now because when we took Brody out of school, I was heartbroken to see the negative impact that schooling had had on him. He hated learning. The idea of learning. He would just switch off, and that was really sad; that broke my heart.
Now, we just learn, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And it’s not just the kids, it’s the four of us. Everything we do is a learning opportunity. And that’s not a bad thing. There’s no negative connotation around learning. And I think that is a valuable, valuable experience and a valuable way to live.
I also wish that I knew about this 10 years earlier. So if you’re reading this right now, and thinking, “oh, should we do this?” just do it, don’t wait. I wish we’d known about this 10 years earlier because life would have been very, very different.
What’s next in your Worldschooling adventures?
I feel like Europe’s next for us. There are so many places in Europe that we’ve been to that we just absolutely loved. But there’s so much more that we would love to see. So that’s certainly high on the agenda. But also in 2021, we have a whole bunch of Worldschooling Central trips planned, so that will be a huge part of our future. Growing Worldschooling Central. Helping people learn about this incredible way of life and supporting the community. I just feel so passionate about helping other world schooling families and helping people start world schooling. So that’s a huge part of our future.
And of course travel. We have a base now, so I guess you could say we’re part-time world schoolers now, but we’re full-time world schoolers in the sense that we live in a different country so every day is an experience. You can just try to go to the supermarket or try and pay a bill. All of that is an experience. So we’re full-time Worldschooling in that sense. But now we have a base so we can come home and we can have some space, we can get some more work done. And then we can go off into the world and enjoy our next adventures.
Where can people find you online?
People can find us at Worldschooling Central. Also on Facebook, search Worldschooling Central, and come join us. We’d love to have you in the community. Ask questions. Connect with other world schooling families.
And if you’re in that early discovery stage where you like the sound of it, but you’re not 100% sure, join one of our Worldschooling Central Travel trips. It’s a great way to learn and find out more about worldschooling. So many families that have come on our trips have been in that sort of stage. And by the end of the trip, they’re ready to sell up and leave full time.
So please, connect with us. We would love to connect with you. Help in any way. Answer your questions.
What would you say to someone considering Worldschooling?
Just do it. If you go and do 6 or 12 months of travel and you don’t like it, you can go back to your ordinary life. But what if you do like it? What if you do have a life-changing experience? What if you have a connection with your kids that you’ve never had before? What if you learn in ways that you’ve never learned before?
In my experience, this isn’t the right thing for everybody. But I’ve not met a family that regrets trying. And as I said, if it’s not for you just go back. You can get a job again, you can get a house, you can get a car and all of that sort of stuff. But for us, I have no intention of ever going back because life is 100,000 times better than it ever was before. So just do it.
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Worldschooling Central is the creation of Karen King. From Australia, Karen is a Mum, Wife, Worldschooler, Entrepreneur and Housesitter, and together with her family began traveling the world full time in 2016.
In 2014, both Karen and her husband Cameron were living a “traditional” Australian life. Cam had a well paying job, Karen was running her own very successful small business, 2 cars, a beautiful house and kids in school and kindergarten. BUT… they weren’t happy. They were working too much and not enjoying life!
Both of them knew there had to be more to life than just existing – working hard all week and being too exhausted on the weekend to enjoy themselves.
So in 2014, the family took a well deserved 7 week vacation. During this time they discovered the idea of “Location Independence”. Soon after they discovered the term “Worldschooling”. Both were the answers they’d been looking for!
So in 2015, the family sold everything, and in January 2016, they departed Australia and have been on the road full time ever since!
Watch our full Worldschooling Spotlight interview HERE
Karen (51) is the Creator of Worldschooling Central. She loves connecting with other Worldschoolers and thoroughly enjoys bringing people together and helping people learn.
Cam (98) is a keen traveler and loves connecting with like-minded families. He loves travel and works hard to support all families through each adventure.
Brody (19) loves to travel and connecting with other kids! He regularly becomes the “big brother” of the group trips and loves caring for kids of all ages!
Sienna (13) is a tour guide in the making! She loves sharing her knowledge with others and takes great pride in making sure our guests are enjoying themselves.
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