Mother and Son Bond Through Nomadic Travels and Unschooling

The following is an interview I did with friend and fellow travel blogger Lainie Liberti of RaisingMiro.  Lainie and her son Miro left the US 3 years ago after realizing there was more to the world then working 10 hours a day and not seeing each other very much.  They started in South America and are now in Central America.  They plan to slow travel around the world for the next few years exploring cultures and connecting with humanity as global citizens.

Mother and son!
What method of education do you use? Why did you choose this method? And why is it a good fit for you and Miro?

As we started our trip, I had no idea such a thing called Unschooling existed. However, I noticed Miro was talking about geography, sociology, history, economics, mythology, language and second language, literature, math, science, and more. I sat back one night and realized how brilliant the idea of having the world teach my son was! Engage in life, and children (and adults) learn!

Soon thereafter, I discovered the formal name for what we were doing as 'unschooling'. In some circles it's called 'Radically Unschooling', 'Worldschooling' and Roadschooling. There are similar principals to each of those 'disciplines' which is based on child-led learning. This is a radical departure from homeschooling circles, that teach a formal curriculum only in the home environment.

The philosophy behind unschooling is that children will learn what they need to know when they are ready and want to learn it, and this flows through every other aspect of life. The whole essence of unschooling is that children, when empowered, will learn based on their individual interests.

I’ve seen games spark Miro’s interest in mythology, quantum physics, history and culture. We’ve had an open platform to discuss humanity, violence, and choices because of video games. I’ve also seen Miro’s research skills improve as the internet and google are second nature to him. I didn’t like going to the library to research when I was his age because it was so overwhelming for me. To have the library at your fingertips is a drastic change for this generation.

I have discovered first hand that by virtue of being in this world, we can't help but to learn. Children learn naturally and retain so much more when they are engaged and leading the process themselves. I realized this just by observing an empowered Miro blossom daily. As a result of my unschooling education, I am growing as Miro teaches me how to be a better and more effective parent in the process.

I have written about unschooling extensively on our site, and I invite you and your readers to read more here.

Enjoying every moment TOGETHER!
What are the most important things you see Miro learning since starting a nomadic life?

We are unschooling so I do not project my agenda on Miro in terms of what I think is important he learns. Rather, I support him and do whatever I can to provide opportunities to peruse his interest.

Along those lines, on our travels I found a wonderful Thai Kwon Do teacher, enrolled (us) in an English speaking improv class, and purchased many books (too many to count) on Mythology, Cryptozology and Zombie(ism). But even without an intentional learning environment, learning happens. Through travel, Miro has learned history, geography, culture, economy, politics, anthropology and art.

Some of the surprises: Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine Miro would causally pick up a new language without even trying. Nor did I think he'd become interested in learning horticulture. Also, surprisingly, I never thought he'd be comfortable working in a medical veterinary triage caring for animals.

All of these things have been life learning experiences, and learning just happens. No lessons involved.

What ways has the parent/child relationship changed since starting your travels?

We have spend close to every moment of our travels together (with some exceptions of course) and as you can imagine, our relationship has grown stronger. The single most important aspect to this, has been our ability to laugh together. The games, sayings and interactions between us have become an important part of the journey.

We started off having a fantastic relationship, close beyond most typical parent child relationships. Our relationship has clearly strengthened, but not sure if that is by virtue of traveling solely. We do at times encounter issues surrounding boundaries. For example, in addition to being Miro's mom (and dad), sometimes he treats me like a kid-friend saying things that just aren't appropriate to say to his mom. We talk about it when it comes up and it's not serious, but things like this are bound to come up with our unique lifestyle, where there is a lack of interaction with other children.

Also, other issues arise as at times when I wish to do adult things, like share time with other adults. I think these are typical issues any single parent will encounter, not specific to the living on the road though.

I love how you write from both your own and Miro's perspective, always using we rather than I, how much a part of blogging does Miro take part in?

Miro writes his own column on our site called Miro Unedited (but not as often as I would prefer, but hey, that's how it goes). We do, however produce our podcasts together. We start off with a production meeting, discuss ideas, both do the background research and write the script. Then we rehearse together, and record the show. I do all of the audio editing however, but it's truly a joint effort.

What is your favorite part of this new lifestyle?

I think for me, the most profound discovery is that people are genuine and kind all over the world. It is easy to connect authentically with anyone by offering a smile and making eye contact, even when there are language barriers. A smile can be an opening to a world of discovery, learning about different cultures and points of views, an experience Miro and I cherish.

We have connected with homeless people on the street, children in impoverished neighborhoods, indigenous mothers, and the cosmopolitan socialites. We have made so many wonderful friends and have had the honor of being invited into so many peoples' homes to experience a slice of their lives. The people have been the gift in the entire experience and they are the reason we keep exploring.

What is Miro's favorite part?

Miro, in his own words:

Do you plan to return to the US? Why or why not?

Neither Miro nor I have any intention of moving back to the States. We both enjoy our lifestyle and since we travel slowly, we do plant roots every place we go. They just may be shallow and wide versus the traditional deep rooting we are used to.

Wonderful insight into the benefits of travel on family life.  For more information on Lainie and Miro and their travels head over to their blog or follow them on Twitter right now!

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  1. It was so good to read about your styles of homeschooling/unschooling! I am going through the very same thing - trying to work out what style suits our boys for learning! I have noticed that they learn more because they want to, instead of having to!
    Love your story of how your bond has growing as you travel.

  2. Great interview.

    Lainie and Miro are an inspiration! I'm increasingly becoming interested in unschooling. I can already see the influence travel is having on my (almost) two-year-old's learning and development. It's wonderful to see such a special mother-son bond.

  3. So interesting! I loved reading your story :) I am not sure if I could be 100% unschooler though... I mean yes! We are roadschoolers, but we use Time4Learning in conjunction with what we learn through just living life. Still maybe one day, who knows, I may give it a try ;)

  4. Wow, I like this education method Lainie…However I never thought this type of education method to my kids, but after reading your story I will work according you…Thanks for sharing something totally new and challenging stuff!!

  5. I really enjoyed reading this! I haven't had kids yet but the whole concept of unschooling really makes sense to me! I remember in school I only paid attention and excelled in the subjects that interested me. If I didn't like it I would read in class with a book under my desk to continue learning what I wanted:)

  6. I would really like to know how to finance this continually. I would love to do this, but it seems like something for someone already financially equipped or backed by family? Or by a former career that set them up for this? How, please, how???

  7. I have not met a single person who was independently wealthy or backed by their family for these types of lifestyles. Usually its quite the opposite. I think most important is minimizing and changing your viewpoint on how you need to live. There is so much you can live without and quite honestly it is cheaper for us to live this lifestyle then a stationary one back in the states. Online options are endless, so find something you have a skill set in or a passion about and research, research, research! It doesn't happen overnight but if you are motivated then it will happen in time!

  8. As a traveler, I love what you're doing, and regret coming back to the states. Keep on moving and TRAVEL FAR!

    1. Thanks, and we will! It's never too late for anyone though, get back out there as soon as you can!