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The World Is Our Classroom: How One Family Used Nature and Travel to Shape an Extraordinary Education

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Bronze Medal, Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition, Society of American Travel Writers "Cindy Ross is one of today's most eloquent and thoughtful writers on the connection between humans and the natural world."—Richard Louv, New York Times bestselling author Cindy's story begins in the Rocky Mountain wilderness on a unique and extraordinary journey: two parents leadi Bronze Medal, Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition, Society of American Travel Writers "Cindy Ross is one of today's most eloquent and thoughtful writers on the connection between humans and the natural world."—Richard Louv, New York Times bestselling author Cindy's story begins in the Rocky Mountain wilderness on a unique and extraordinary journey: two parents leading their young children 3,100 miles on the backs of llamas. This Canada-Mexico trek illustrated to Cindy and her husband what experiential education can do. Inspired by the experience, they went on to create a new way of supplementing their children’s education, focusing on two arenas for learning: the natural world and travel. In this age of world connection, it is important to raise broad-minded and empathetic children who are knowledgeable about other cultures. To accomplish this goal, Cindy chose an unorthodox approach: she orchestrated learning opportunities for her children, Sierra and Bryce, in twelve countries. The family traveled the world, moving about on foot and bicycle, living simply and intimately. But just as important, and more accessible for many parents, were the opportunities for learning closer to home. These adventures brought intangible gifts: values--such as compassion, empathy, resilience, self-reliance, and gratitude, among others--not always fostered in a traditional curriculum but crucially important to raising children. By sharing her story, along with honest insights from her children about the importance of their unusual education, Cindy aims to empower parents to believe they can be their children's best and most important educators. It is for parents who are seeking inspiration, who love a good story, and who are looking for an unorthodox way to raise the happiest, healthiest, and brightest children they can.


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Bronze Medal, Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition, Society of American Travel Writers "Cindy Ross is one of today's most eloquent and thoughtful writers on the connection between humans and the natural world."—Richard Louv, New York Times bestselling author Cindy's story begins in the Rocky Mountain wilderness on a unique and extraordinary journey: two parents leadi Bronze Medal, Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition, Society of American Travel Writers "Cindy Ross is one of today's most eloquent and thoughtful writers on the connection between humans and the natural world."—Richard Louv, New York Times bestselling author Cindy's story begins in the Rocky Mountain wilderness on a unique and extraordinary journey: two parents leading their young children 3,100 miles on the backs of llamas. This Canada-Mexico trek illustrated to Cindy and her husband what experiential education can do. Inspired by the experience, they went on to create a new way of supplementing their children’s education, focusing on two arenas for learning: the natural world and travel. In this age of world connection, it is important to raise broad-minded and empathetic children who are knowledgeable about other cultures. To accomplish this goal, Cindy chose an unorthodox approach: she orchestrated learning opportunities for her children, Sierra and Bryce, in twelve countries. The family traveled the world, moving about on foot and bicycle, living simply and intimately. But just as important, and more accessible for many parents, were the opportunities for learning closer to home. These adventures brought intangible gifts: values--such as compassion, empathy, resilience, self-reliance, and gratitude, among others--not always fostered in a traditional curriculum but crucially important to raising children. By sharing her story, along with honest insights from her children about the importance of their unusual education, Cindy aims to empower parents to believe they can be their children's best and most important educators. It is for parents who are seeking inspiration, who love a good story, and who are looking for an unorthodox way to raise the happiest, healthiest, and brightest children they can.

30 review for The World Is Our Classroom: How One Family Used Nature and Travel to Shape an Extraordinary Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    This was a fascinating read, as the author literally took her kids out in the natural world to let them learn via experimental learning.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it! Cindy's story begins in the Rocky Mountain wilderness on a unique and extraordinary journey: two parents leading their young children 3,100 miles on the backs of llamas. This Canada-Mexico trek illustrated to Cindy and her husband what experiential education can do. Inspired by the experienc I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it! Cindy's story begins in the Rocky Mountain wilderness on a unique and extraordinary journey: two parents leading their young children 3,100 miles on the backs of llamas. This Canada-Mexico trek illustrated to Cindy and her husband what experiential education can do. Inspired by the experience, they went on to create a new way of supplementing their children’s education, focusing on two arenas for learning: the natural world and travel. In this age of world connection, it is important to raise broad-minded and empathetic children who are knowledgeable about other cultures. To accomplish this goal, Cindy chose an unorthodox approach: she orchestrated learning opportunities for her children, Sierra and Bryce, in twelve countries. The family travelled the world, moving about on foot and bicycle, living simply and intimately. But just as important, and more accessible for many parents, were the opportunities for learning closer to home. These adventures brought intangible gifts: values—such as compassion, empathy, resilience, self-reliance, and gratitude, among others—not always fostered in a traditional curriculum but crucially important to raising children. By sharing her story, along with honest insights from her children about the importance of their unusual education, Cindy aims to empower parents to believe they can be their children's best and most important educators. It is for parents who are seeking inspiration, who love a good story, and who are looking for an unorthodox way to raise the happiest, healthiest, and brightest children they can. As someone who loved the book "Educated" (where a non-schooled woman ended up with a Cambridge PhD), this was right up my alley. So many teachers spend their days doing crowd control and behaviour correcting that little EDUCATING seems to be done. These adventures were not up my alley (I would need to be paid to go on a canoe trip) but the process of education that her children received was remarkable. And it made sense! She ended up with happy citizens who were not obsessed with screentime and all the social media attached to that. This is such an amazing book that any and every person in education should read.- we need to rethink how we teach our children about life and the world and this book is a STELLAR example! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I really enjoyed this book. The title pretty much explains the subject. The book is written by the mother, an avid hiker/traveler/photographer/writer who along with her husband Todd decide to take their two children on numerous long distance hikes, bikes, and travel adventures as they raised them. The logistics of backpacking/cycling/traveling 100's (1000's!) of miles in the outdoors presented a challenge to both traditional methods of raising children as well as the traditional pathway of educa I really enjoyed this book. The title pretty much explains the subject. The book is written by the mother, an avid hiker/traveler/photographer/writer who along with her husband Todd decide to take their two children on numerous long distance hikes, bikes, and travel adventures as they raised them. The logistics of backpacking/cycling/traveling 100's (1000's!) of miles in the outdoors presented a challenge to both traditional methods of raising children as well as the traditional pathway of education. So the author and her husband pioneered their own way, and this is their story. But it is more than a story in that it also a set of guide posts and principles on exploring our world and the nature and people in it, and that how much that exploration (when done with attention and diligence) can offer the growing mind and soul. This is a sentiment and point of view that speaks to me (...ever more so in the increasingly electronic world). By all accounts the author and her husband are absolute pioneers for what they have accomplished. (Long distance hikes, llama rides, wagon rides, cycling adventures, canoe trips, and international travel adventures all unfold across the pages.) And it is clear that the two children, Bryce and Sierra (I guess we know the author's favorite parks!) are clear success stories, both in terms of the conventional milestones (went to college and earned honors sense) and in the arena of life-skills, morals, nd principles development (which I think is even more important). The book is well written, and is strengthened considerably by the liberal use of journal entries (and concluding essays!) by the children themselves. There book is simply a constant argument for exploration and adventure - and while it chronicles numerous large scale adventures, it also provides numerous practical suggestions on how exploration, cultural, and natural learning be accomplished without great expense or vast resources. (This is not a story of a family of vast resources jet-setting about the world, but a story of principled choices and hard work.) While the author's accomplishments are stupendous, I must admit the book also makes me appreciate (even more!) the work my own parents have done in nurturing my love of the outdoors, travel, and adventure - and how much I owe them. Bottom line - go out and read this book. Then take the next steps and just go out and explore the world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Phillips

    As a homeschool mom I was drawn to the title and that cover is so peaceful I wanted to feel that adventure. In our family school we also strive to have the world as our classroom but Cindy Ross describes a philosophy beyond my wildest dreams, a philosophy of teaching that sounds perfect and I only wish I could take the leap to pack up my kids and seek out nature and the opportunities in our everyday life to teach my kids what could have never be found in a text book. Sadly, I am too rigid in my As a homeschool mom I was drawn to the title and that cover is so peaceful I wanted to feel that adventure. In our family school we also strive to have the world as our classroom but Cindy Ross describes a philosophy beyond my wildest dreams, a philosophy of teaching that sounds perfect and I only wish I could take the leap to pack up my kids and seek out nature and the opportunities in our everyday life to teach my kids what could have never be found in a text book. Sadly, I am too rigid in my style, too type A, too interested in making sure the boxes are checked. Cindy describes the adventures they experienced teaching her children as they hiked the Appalachian trail or the Rockies. What I took away from this excellent example of teaching and learning was that even though this style of learning is not conventional and that Cindy and her husband had to learn by trial and error, that did not stop them and they never allowed fear or the unknown to stop them from following their dreams and taking their children along with them. The format was easy to follow and the words enticing never boring, easy to read and eye opening.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bathsheba Monk

    This is a fabulous book. Period. We are all autodidacts ultimately and what better way to teach ourselves and have our children teach themselves than to put them out in the world where...guess what?.....they'll figure it out and learn more than they would staring at a blackboard. The writing is wonderful. Ms. Ross tells a compelling story and I am relieved to report that (spoiler alert) the kids turned out just fine. This is a fabulous book. Period. We are all autodidacts ultimately and what better way to teach ourselves and have our children teach themselves than to put them out in the world where...guess what?.....they'll figure it out and learn more than they would staring at a blackboard. The writing is wonderful. Ms. Ross tells a compelling story and I am relieved to report that (spoiler alert) the kids turned out just fine.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elliott

    The word school is derived from the Latin schola, which means "free time." Hardly what comes to mind when one thinks of schools today. Henri Nouwen wrote that "schools were originally meant to interrupt a busy existence and create some space to contemplate the mysteries of life." Again, this is not what comes to mind when we think of the public school system that we have today. When we pulled our younger son out of the school system, I sought the advice of others who homeschooled about where to The word school is derived from the Latin schola, which means "free time." Hardly what comes to mind when one thinks of schools today. Henri Nouwen wrote that "schools were originally meant to interrupt a busy existence and create some space to contemplate the mysteries of life." Again, this is not what comes to mind when we think of the public school system that we have today. When we pulled our younger son out of the school system, I sought the advice of others who homeschooled about where to begin, what would be the right curriculum for our family's needs. It came back in resounding agreement: Charlotte Mason. Why? Because this curriculum connected both nature and reading, two of the things we love most. Cindy Ross writes of how much her children were taught simply by placing them in the natural world. "Experiential learning is better than a book," she writes in The World is Our Classroom, "better than a school building, better than a computer program." Unlike those methods, she saw that allowing her children to be in nature, to travel and experience the world was a far better education than any that a school could offer. As she says, "This kind of learning was creating a life for our children filled with abundance, passion, purpose, and gratitude; and it would stay with them for the rest of their lives because they had lived it." Isn't that what we all want for our children? While camping on the Colorado Trail, Cindy became anxious when she called to her one-year-old Bryce and he didn't reply or come to her. She found him just a short ways from the camp in an open meadow, lost in thought, staring at a purple aster. "A sunlit meadow, a simple flower, an evening breeze are entertainment enough for my little boy. It quickly became obvious that the natural world possessed tremendous gifts for the child who gets to spend time in the outdoors." I have seen this in my own sons. Whenever we have taken them out into the natural world, into the outdoors, I have watched a huge change come over them and the way they interact with each other and with the world around them. Out in nature, they become more spontaneous, more observant, more tuned into their senses than they would be anywhere else. Instead of being entertained by computers, video games or television, their imaginations were stimulated by streams and rocks and plants and trees. They were aloud to wonder and wander. When we spend time in such places, they discover the unexpected and are delighted by this. It is education by immersion and interaction. "All I had to do was spark their interest," Cindy Ross writes, "On the trail, they learned to be present, to be aware of their world and when one views the world as the amazing, fascinating place that it truly is, there is no room for complacency or mediocrity." There is one thing about learning the parts of a plant from a book, but there is so much more when we can go outside and study the plant itself. When those parts of a flower (stamen, petal, stigma, receptacle) are right there in front of my son and he can look at and touch the flower. When he connects what was in the book to what is in the world. And he is far more likely to remember those parts now than if we simply read about them or looked at photos on our computer. Learning becomes more intentional when a child can physically touch and explore something: the bark of a tree or gathering types of rocks or seeing a hawk in flight and looking in a bird guide to find out what type and more about its habits and habitats, in looking for squirrel's nests and quietly watching them gather nuts or chase each other up trees. Nothing online can compete with our nature hike that allowed us to see five red-tailed hawks or to hear their interactions with each other. My boys were in awe and continue to talk about those moments. This is real developing and learning that allows for them to connect with each other, with nature, with the world around them. "The whole world was becoming their classroom," Ross says. And this made me think of what Charlotte Mason wrote about developing a curriculum, "The question is not, how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education but how much does he care? and about many order of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?" How much larger is that room when it's the world itself and how much fuller are their lives when they get to explore the world they inhabit? And we learn alongside our children. It is a process that we have entered into together. Whether that is going to see a play or a concert or visit a museum or a historical site or spending time in a national park. "A school environment can teach children how to think critically," Ross explains, "but it doesn't give their minds the freedom to explore and it often falls short when it comes to opportunities to feed a child's soul." And isn't that the point of education? Not just critical thinking, but opportunities to feed a child's soul? To expose them to the beauty of the world; whether that be in nature, in a great piece of literature, seeing an artwork hung in a museum and allowing them to talk about that painting or sculpture and hear what it says to them, or listening to a composition by Bach or Debussy (whom I'm studying in-depth more right now) and asking them not only about what instruments they hear but what do they visualize when they are listening to it? Opening them up to poetry and play. Play can be just as important and educational and necessary. As Fred Rogers said, "Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is the work of childhood." It's about allowing them to ask questions and to discover greater questions and not having to always have the answers. It's about allowing them to be curious, which is so often the beginning of wisdom. Education should be about more than simply filling a child with facts and figures. It is about teaching them to see and hear and think and explore for themselves. It is about giving them the space to play and create and delight and to imagine. Education should be filling them with a sense of awe and wonder and to be amazed. Cindy Ross' The World is Our Classroom is a welcome book to our collection as it reminds us of why we engage and encourage our children to dance in the rain, get their hands dirty in the garden, study leaf patterns, paint and draw and create, to follow their curiosity into subjects like astronomy, biology, history, the arts, poetry, mathematics, problem solving, philosophy and theology in ways that allow them to be inspired and informed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    January Gray

    As a home school family that travels, this book reinforced that we are doing the right thing! Very informative and interesting as well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Naaz

    ARC in return for honest review. Full review coming soon.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mommy Reads And Reviews

    Fantastic read about living and enjoying life free of societal expectations. As a home school parent I enjoyed the ethos and story! Definitely recommended to those enlightened folk that live life according to their principles!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Rose

    I really enjoyed the author's style of teaching her children. I was expecting more of a resource for how to teach your kids in the way the author does, but found this to be more of a memoir. However, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it as there are many ways our children learn. I would like to thank Netgalley and the Publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. This is my honest opinion of it. I really enjoyed the author's style of teaching her children. I was expecting more of a resource for how to teach your kids in the way the author does, but found this to be more of a memoir. However, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it as there are many ways our children learn. I would like to thank Netgalley and the Publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. This is my honest opinion of it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Erin Buhr

    A thorough and inspiring account of parenting and educating children through travel and experiences. THE WORLD IS OUR CLASSROOM is a good blend of anecdotes and practical information. Ross shows through example how to learn about animals, history, other cultures, and more through travel. She offers resources, ideas and tips along the way that make you feel like ‘yes! I can take my kids on an adventure.’ You can’t help but be energized and awed by their family’s 3,100 miles on the backs of Llamas A thorough and inspiring account of parenting and educating children through travel and experiences. THE WORLD IS OUR CLASSROOM is a good blend of anecdotes and practical information. Ross shows through example how to learn about animals, history, other cultures, and more through travel. She offers resources, ideas and tips along the way that make you feel like ‘yes! I can take my kids on an adventure.’ You can’t help but be energized and awed by their family’s 3,100 miles on the backs of Llamas or canoe trip in the Everglades or even their more harrowing travel experiences. If you’re curious about travel with kids, excited about the possibility of teaching your kids through experience - full or part time, or want someone to show you little steps towards introducing the big world to your children then this is an excellent place to start.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    Agree with Cindy Ross nearly 100 0/0! Schools aren't teaching much kids can't can't learn from parents or other adults. Home schooling and unschooling, in the end, are far better than over priced babysitters. I love the idea of forest schools, too. It should be criminal the way children are forced to sit at desks for hours. Adults would rebel! I think children need more down time to explore their world. So many poor kids have every moment of the day dictated to them by adults! It's sad! And just Agree with Cindy Ross nearly 100 0/0! Schools aren't teaching much kids can't can't learn from parents or other adults. Home schooling and unschooling, in the end, are far better than over priced babysitters. I love the idea of forest schools, too. It should be criminal the way children are forced to sit at desks for hours. Adults would rebel! I think children need more down time to explore their world. So many poor kids have every moment of the day dictated to them by adults! It's sad! And just plain harmful! Kudos to Ms. Ross and other parents who are freeing their children! Keep spreading the word! I received a Kindle Arc from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    MAY

    Love the inspiring stories, the playful illustrations, the encouraging you-can-do-it-if-I-can tone. The voices of Cindy Ross' now-grown children prove just how successful she and her husband have been at educating them to be masterful artists, writers, humans. . . . Bravo Cindy!! Love the inspiring stories, the playful illustrations, the encouraging you-can-do-it-if-I-can tone. The voices of Cindy Ross' now-grown children prove just how successful she and her husband have been at educating them to be masterful artists, writers, humans. . . . Bravo Cindy!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beverly Egan

    The World 🌎 is Our Classroom by Cindy Ross Skyhorse Publishing This was a great read, it brought back memories from my childhood. My father was military, and we traveled all over the world. My dad used to pack us 3 kids into the car, driving through (Taiwan, Germany, Scotland) and we would camp out on the road less traveled. As 3 little girls we enjoyed nature, and saw thing books can't teach you . This book is one family's journey across the Great Divide and a 3,100 miles trip on llamas from Cana The World 🌎 is Our Classroom by Cindy Ross Skyhorse Publishing This was a great read, it brought back memories from my childhood. My father was military, and we traveled all over the world. My dad used to pack us 3 kids into the car, driving through (Taiwan, Germany, Scotland) and we would camp out on the road less traveled. As 3 little girls we enjoyed nature, and saw thing books can't teach you . This book is one family's journey across the Great Divide and a 3,100 miles trip on llamas from Canada to Mexico learning about nature as they go. I truly loved reading about the international trips. Learning and appreciating different cultures. I know people that have not seen the ocean or traveled far from there own state. There is definitely something to be said about homeschooling, and learning about the beautiful world we live in through experience. This book was well written and a enjoyable read from beginning to end. I Thank You to NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing for a ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. Beverly E\ ladyedan\ladyedan62

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    One of my favorite books of the year I think. I mean, doing the Continental Divide trail by llama with young kids - #goals right there. I loved how Ross related the travel experiences of her kids to the "real" world - for instance, learning problem solving skills in the wilderness built confidence for day-to-day situations. The last couple chapters with input from her son and daughter as adults were huge. I appreciated that she waited to write this book until they were adults and seem to be "suc One of my favorite books of the year I think. I mean, doing the Continental Divide trail by llama with young kids - #goals right there. I loved how Ross related the travel experiences of her kids to the "real" world - for instance, learning problem solving skills in the wilderness built confidence for day-to-day situations. The last couple chapters with input from her son and daughter as adults were huge. I appreciated that she waited to write this book until they were adults and seem to be "successful" and enjoyed their upbringing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lua

    I very much enjoyed this true story of a couple who take charge of their children's education by giving them the world. Their children grow up while going on adventures with their parents, including long distance hikes, bicycle trips, paddling through the Okefenokee Swamp, and traveling around the world. I very much enjoyed this true story of a couple who take charge of their children's education by giving them the world. Their children grow up while going on adventures with their parents, including long distance hikes, bicycle trips, paddling through the Okefenokee Swamp, and traveling around the world.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I'm not sure this approach works for everyone. I'm not sure this approach works for everyone.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gabe Randol

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristal Bentley

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katie Weaver

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aziza Kadribeg

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Alfiero

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jek

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kara

  27. 4 out of 5

    Josh Gershon

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jess Connot

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elane Ko

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

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