HOW DID THIS MOM CONVINCE HER HUSBAND TO WORLDSCHOOL?

Worldschooling Spotlight

Get to Know the Sharkey Family

Meet the Sharkey family

A part-time worldschooling family of 4 from the US. The Sharkey family have always loved to travel, Mom Tanya and her husband traveled frequently when the children were younger, and after they struggled with the school system due to truancy, they made the decision to take the kids out of school and start worldschooling.

In today’s interview, Tanya talks a lot about how they got started and specifically discusses the concerns her husband had about moving away from the mainstream. She discusses how they decided to educate their kids and how that evolved as her husband became more comfortable with the benefits of child led education.

Tanya also shares some great advice for parents considering worldschooling and talks about the benefits of starting sooner rather than later.

With so much to share let’s dive in and meet Tanya now.

Introduce Yourself

I’m Tanya Sharkey. My husband and I have two children, and they are teenagers now. My daughter is 16, and our son is 18. Our home base is in St. Petersburg, Florida.

What is Worldschooling?

I think that it has a variety of answers. I think it’s different for everybody, but Worldschooling, in general, encompasses some kind of travel in your children’s educational experience of life. That would be the baseline; I think just incorporating travel in some way into your life.

Click here to learn more about Worldschooling!

Why did you start Worldschooling?

I don’t even think it was a conscious decision; when we began Worldschooling, it wasn’t like we even knew what the term was. When we started Unschooling, we didn’t know what we were doing. So we took our kids out of school. We did that because we were traveling too much, and the school system and traveling don’t go together very well. We were not reaching our children’s attendance requirements to be there, and we were reaching truancy. We got called into the school and decided that we would start homeschooling immediately if they said we had to leave the system. They let us finish that year, and then we pulled them out and kept traveling. It wasn’t until years later that I even knew about a Worldschooling group. So it wasn’t a conscious decision. It was just our desire to show the kids different cultures and more than just the United States of America. We love to travel, and so our kids went with us.

How do you Worldschool?

I remember when we went to a Worldschooling family conference, we saw a lot of full-timers, and I remember thinking, we’re not really Worldschoolers, because we’re not living somewhere else in the world all the time. We’re not always doing that. So I started questioning if I could even call ourselves Worldschoolers, but I still feel we are.

We are part-timers. We have a home base in the United States. We kind of tease that we missed our opportunity because our kids probably would have moved abroad if had we left when they were 9, 10, 11 years old. As they got older, something switched within our kids. Their community got more solidified, and they got into what they were doing here in their friends’ circles, and it just wasn’t going to happen. We didn’t want to pull them from that; they were comfortable here. So Worldschooling for us has looked very different.

My husband came out of a corporate job in 2014 on purpose to spend more time with the family. We went on the road across the country for a few months, and then we did a month in Italy. Since then, it has depended on our jobs and what the kids’ needs have been. It could be all four of us going somewhere for a month, or a couple of weeks. It could be my son and I. My son and I made a trip to Scotland together, and we’ve been to Mexico. My daughter and I went to Peru, and my husband and my daughter have gone to France. So whoever has the time, we just split up, and we come together when we can. My son did a month in Mexico with friends who live there, and it’s just what we can make happen. So, that’s how we do it.

Did you De-School?

We did, and we didn’t. I knew about de-schooling, and once we pulled the kids out of public school, my husband got really excited about getting workbooks, and he would suggest to the kids that they should work on a particular section, from this page to this page, and he wrote it up on a chalkboard. I’d be home with the kids, and I quickly said: “This isn’t working, honey, this isn’t working. It’s just not.” We then started doing whatever felt right. We would go to museums and take classes that the museums were offering, science classes, whatever was around our area at the time, we just started doing that, and it quickly became Unschooling. We did de-school because we just kind of went loosey-goosey.

How did friends and family react when you started Worldschooling?

You want to do right by your kids, and you do hear people say things. We’ve been fortunate that we haven’t had too many people around us over the years that have given us any pushback, even our parents. My parents don’t fully understand, but they trust me is what they’ve told me, and it’s my kids, do what I want with them is kind of their attitude. So we’ve been really blessed.

What questions and fears did you have Worldschooling before you started?

I’ve always been a little bit more of a rebel, so it was easier for me. My husband had a little more fear around it than I did, which is common, knowing so many families who have done this. It seems like the dads usually have a little bit more struggle, which is understandable, knowing their mainstream roles in society. I get it.

I understand that my husband has always lived a more mainstream life; that’s where he came from. It wasn’t until he met me and all my crazy ideas that he was pushed outside of his comfort zone. I guess I’ve just been very blessed that he’s trusted me and my instincts because we did natural childbirth, and we breastfed long term, and we co-slept, and we did all those things. His reaction was, really? What do you mean, we’re doing this? Why aren’t we just going to the hospital to have the kids, and then just bring them home? So when I started talking about homeschooling, it was just another weird thing that Tanya was talking about, and here we go again.

I think he just observed what was happening with the kids, and he was very open to seeing how it was going. His fears didn’t last very long, and I think every year that we continue to do this, he gets more and more confident, and that what we are doing is the right path for everybody. Now that we’re on the backside of it, it’s good; we made the right choices.

As a parent, you do question, but it wasn’t a difficult thing for us. It always just felt right.

How do you create community when you’re traveling?

For us, because we’re not out there for a really long period of time. We haven’t always met with other people. There’s been a few occasions where we’ve met people along the way: other Worldschoolers or other families. Or we knew people were going to be in an area, so we got together with them for a little while, or we purposefully travel somewhere where our friends are living, and we spent some time there. Our community, our core community, is where we are here, but then we know people in many other places. I feel like we have a world community and then a local community.

What qualities do you think your children developed because of Worldschooling?

I just think they’re really cool people. I don’t know if it’s because of what we’ve done. I don’t know if they would have ended up this way anyway; it’s hard to know that, right? They just have a sense of things. We talk about a lot of really cool things, and we have amazing discussions; we can bring in conversations about what’s going on all over the place and different perspectives. It’s not just what the United States is going through; there are people we saw in Mexico or the poor people in this place, and we say, remember what we saw when we were in this place? Just fill in the blank. It’s just a perspective change, and it’s a passion for seeing different things, and eating new foods, and experiencing and knowing that people are very similar all over the world, and are very different at the same time. It’s made them really amazing people; it’s hard to pinpoint precisely what it’s done for them. But they’re just really cool people, great humans.

How has Worldschooling changed your releationship with each other?

Okay, well, let me go back a little bit. It’s almost a comparison between the school system and our new life after the school system.

While in the system, you have schedules, and you’re getting up in the morning and rushing them out, and doing all of that, and it just tears the family apart in the morning. Everybody’s upset, and rushing around, it’s crazy. The kids are supposed to do these reading assignments and homework, and it’s just crazy. Then you come out of that, and now you’re an Unschooling and a Worldschooling family.

For us, it’s brought us so much closer; we are such a close family. We’ve lived in these small little apartments in Brooklyn, and we’ve lived in an RV two different summers, for months at a time, and we have really great conversations, and we’re just respectful of each other. We have a lot of mutual respect for each other, and we can talk about almost anything, and I mean anything. Crazy stuff that some parents will think, no, you’re supposed to talk about that with your kids! I’m glad, though, I feel like I don’t need to worry that they will do anything behind our backs. They can come to us with anything, and they trust that they can. It’s funny because my husband and I just made a trip to Mexico alone. The kids were here; they are 16 and 18. I can’t tell you how many people said, aren’t you afraid they will have a house party? Or Oh my god, are you kidding me? You’re leaving teenagers at home alone! They just think they’re like normal mainstream teenagers, and they’re just not. When I hear people talk about teenagers, and I don’t have that experience. I don’t know what they’re talking about.

The Unschooling, the Worldschooling experiences, have just brought our family very close together, and I wouldn’t trade anything we’ve done for anything else.

What hints and tips do you have for parents of teens?

I feel like when they’re younger, you still want to be considerate of their feelings, but it’s a bit easier to move around without them giving you pushback. As they age, they’ve got opinions. We probably would be living abroad by now if we hadn’t missed that window of opportunity, my kids are 16 and 18 now. We have taken into consideration how they feel about things; it changes, we are a four-person family. I have friends that are five and six-person families, and it’s more challenging when you have all these individual people, and you’re trying to make everybody as happy as possible. But it’s almost impossible, at the same time.

There’s a balance that’s got to be met somehow, and it’s not always easy. That is what has led us to split off and not travel together all the time. By honoring everybody’s needs like that. It’s more complicated; I think unless your kids say, let’s go! And I’m sure there are those out there. They have more opinions now, and I have to honor that.

How do you afford to worldschool?

That has changed and morphed over the years, and continues to. My husband had a really good corporate job until 2014 when he decided to take the plunge and quit. We had some savings from that, and we used those savings over two years to fund most of our travels and our lifestyle. Then we wiped it out. We weren’t good at planning. We could have made that money last longer, but we decided to blow that in about two years.

Since then, we’ve just been letting the universe guide us. We see what’s coming our way now, and we like taking those jobs, and that independent contractor work. I was a photographer for a while when the kids were in school; I had a home studio. I would take photography jobs and stash the money away; I started dog walking and doing pet sitting. That was something we were using that money, and my husband was doing contractor work. It’s just about finding those hustles, the side hustles are what it’s been about, and taking those opportunities presented to you, funneling the money in different ways, and cutting back on things. We’ve lived in small places; we are just living differently. Spending on travel is our top priority, good food and experiences. We don’t buy a lot of fancy furniture and new clothing; it’s just about priorities for us. Travel has been a top priority, and we find ways to make that happen, period. I don’t have a magic answer. It’s going to look different for everybody. Find what you’re good at and take the opportunities, and make it a priority if it’s a priority.

Whats next in your Worldschooling adventures?

Starting from youngest to oldest. My daughter is 16 years old, and she’s in a lot of theater. She’s very creative; she does art in every form. She writes and goes to poetry readings. She gets up and performs improv, drawing, and painting very creative; she’s everywhere, and she’s just going to keep trucking along. On her own, as an Unschooler, she decided she wanted to be a little more academic. This is not the direction she usually travels; she’s not been very academic. She’s finishing Khan Academy, and she’s doing the math and grammar programs.

My son is my academic kid; he’s the one who’s learned in that direction on his own. He’s been doing that all along, and he just got into a coding boot camp. He will be in that program for a couple of months, and after that, we don’t know, because it has a job placement at the end. He loves Mexico City, he’s been teaching himself Spanish for years, and he’s been to Mexico many times. He might end up somewhere like that, or we all love New York City. So that’s another opportunity for him, but who knows really.

My husband is still doing contracting work. He had a job and lost it in May; he was let go. That was the job that brought us to Florida from New York, where we were living, so that job went sour. He’s been doing crazy random stuff since then, and he’s just going to continue and move forward; he’s building his podcast coaching business. He was in broadcasting, in radio, for over 27 years, and that was the corporate job he left so we could travel. Now he’s a podcast coach. He’s building that business and doing some other side hustles.

I’m doing side hustles all over, and I’ve started a business taking women abroad. I’m organizing trips for women to go overseas and to travel together in this country too.

Where can we find you online?

As I said, my husband was in broadcasting for 27 years. He used to be a talent coach for morning shows. So he knows everything about the equipment you might need for starting your own podcast. He’s a huge believer, as I am, in and storytelling and getting your word and your truth out there, and he’s an amazing listener. He is at https://www.yourpodcastcoach.com. You can find him there if you need any assistance with podcasting. My travel business is at perfectlyflawedwoman.com. I’m on Instagram, as The Perfectly Flawed Woman, and our family is also on Instagram as The Perfectly Flawed Family. So please check us out.

What would you say to someone who is considering Worldschooling?

If you love to travel, and you’re considering Worldschooling, I highly recommend it. You don’t have to get locked into the idea that it has to be full time, or that you have to be doing it constantly, or that it has to be big and this amazing grand scheme of travel. Even if you’re going somewhere once or twice a year, and doing whatever your family can. Heck, just travel in your own country, so many of us don’t even leave our little town. Just travel in your own country. I can only speak for the United States, but it’s huge, and it’s amazing, and there are people from all over the world right here.

So don’t feel like you have to be this extravagant traveler to consider Worldschooling. I think we get locked into a lot of those notions. Just do what you can, and do baby steps, and you never know what the universe is going to provide for you when you put that out there. Just be open to opportunities; check out things like couchsurfing.com and trustedhousesitters.com. There’s an amazing trade community on Facebook where you do house swaps, so that’s another opportunity. All of these things are ways for you to save money traveling; look into hostelworld.com; there’s a ton of resources out there to make it budget-friendly. Start talking to your family, where do they want to go? Where do they want to explore, and see if you can’t make it happen and go for it!

Website Links

To find out more and connect with the Sharkey family, check out the links to their websites below.

Perfectly Flawed Woman

Your Podcast Coach

Facebook ( Tanya Sharkey, Perfectly Flawed Woman, Perfectly Flawed Family)

Instagram ( Perfectly Flawed Woman, Perfectly Flawed Family)

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