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World-Schooling for Black Families

Many children spend the months leading up to the holidays telling their parents what they want for Christmas. That’s not the case for Chanté Thomas, a Black mom of two. She is pulling her family’s suitcases.

In 2019, Thomas started a tradition with her family of taking trips to explore pieces of the world for birthdays and holidays instead of spending money on toys she says her children will only play with a few times. She and other Black parents are using the vehicle of travel to create a memorable experience and provide educational enrichment in lieu of or in addition to traditional school.

“My kids love learning, and I think they appreciate doing different things,” Thomas says.

As a Bahamian immigrant who moved to the U.S. at the age of 7, Thomas knows a world outside of the States she wants to expose her children to, and she is adamant about them being open to others' lived experiences.

“When I took my kids to Mexico, they got to see the culture that we’d talked about,” she says. The crux of their experience was watching her children interact with the locals and learn about their day-to-day lives.

“... [A] lot of people are ignorant because they don’t go outside of their own experience. … [P]eople go from what they see on television,” Thomas shares. Having an accurate view of other cultures comes from being open to exposure from natives of those cultures. When children have this exposure, it can combat existing narratives and open their minds to embracing differences in languages, foods, traditions, and much more. The world is full of opportunities to connect and learn from.

In 2008, “World-Schooling” became a popular way of enriching children’s education through travel. However, the new wave was represented predominantly by white homeschooling families. Since then, many Black influencers like The Mom Trotter have used their platforms to raise awareness of education through travel in Black culture by sharing resources and how it benefits their children. If the idea of travel seems difficult in this climate of inflation, experts say to start by exposing your family to local cultural events that are often free or low-cost.

Sakilé, a homeschooler and Black mom of six, decided to let the world be her children’s classroom, and she started in her city. In 2008, the Parent Coach and co-owner of Embrace Your Free, with their 5-year-old son, put their tourist goggles on to do some experiential learning. They started with local festivals, food tours, architectural boat tours, dinner cruises, museums, and other events. They were exposed to entertainment from around the world, like Samba teachers, Japanese fan dancing, origami lessons, and even West African Dance. These types of events are a platter with bite-sized tastes of other cultures Sakilé says are important for Black children to be exposed to.

“It really helps your child understand their value and their worth,” Sakilé says. In her experience, Black children become more interested in their history and culture as they learn about the richness of the world around them. They also begin to understand everyone has a story others can learn and benefit from.

Sakilé now helps Black homeschool parents globally give their children enriching educational experiences and travel the world affordably. But whether children are homeschooled or in a traditional classroom, travel can expand their minds by pouring into them. Embracing a travel life for learning purposes may be new for some, but view it as an opportunity to learn together.

Here are some ways to begin enriching your children through travel, starting locally and working outward:

View your city like a tourist. Most cities have a “Things to Do” website that advertises local activities, festivals, celebrations, and more. There are often children-focused activities like themed crafts and lessons.

Explore ethnic micro-neighborhoods nearby, like Little Italy or Chinatown. These locations are filled with authentic restaurants and vendors from each culture.

Look Into your local museum’s exhibits. Museums offer opportunities to immerse in a culture’s art and history that tell a story of who they are. Try researching upcoming exhibitions to find one that interests the family.

Book a hotel for the weekend in the nearest city. This allows for travel and new experiences without having to take a flight or long road trip.

Include children in travel prep. Sakilé has her children research the areas before they visit them. They learn about imports and exports, local religions, weather demographics and more. “It gets them excited,” she says.

Trade gifts for an experience. Take a page from Thomas’ book and replace gifts and holiday activities with a family trip.

Thomas says her children often bring up things they remember about the places they’ve visited so far. Knowing she’s added value to their lives by intentionally stepping outside their area code to experience something new has been a fulfilling experience as a parent.


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