Three Vista Virtual School Students Learn the World Hands-on
Finn, Nico and Milo Colebrook are currently on an extended trip across the world, immersing with unique cultures and experiences. With mom (Mary) and dad (John), the “Colebrook 5” have visited many countries in their over-a-year-long excursion—while still being committed to learning.
“We picked this particular time in our lives because we felt that the kids were at a perfect age to embark on this journey,” said father, John Colebrook. “Being eight, 10, and 12, the kids are somewhat independent without being “too cool” to hang with us—they are so curious and adaptable at these ages.”
That led to some great experiences.
“Traveling enables us to see and experience different cultures,” said Finn. “Some of the best opportunities to learn on our trip have been by interacting with locals, as well as visiting museums and taking tours.”
With great food.
“My favourite things about travelling are trying new foods (I especially love Asian food),” said Nico. “And seeing different animals, and observing the different scenery/landscapes around the world.”
And continuous learning.
“I like being able to learn about different cultures by experiencing them,” said Milo. “It gives me the opportunity to learn many things.”
Based out of Red Deer for elementary and middle school, the family moved to home education with Vista Virtual School (VVS) while they experience practical life skills, new languages and to “see, breathe, touch and taste the world.” They even have a blog that tracks their excursion, bigbluedot.xyz.
“We wanted to take time to connect as a family, unencumbered by work, school, sleepovers and extracurricular activities,” said Colebrook.
And as avid travellers, the family was looking for an opportunity to help enhance their kids’ to become engaged global citizens, and doing this before the more time-intense years of high school education.
“We wanted to stick with the Alberta curriculum as much as possible, and our hope was if we could keep up with math and English, we would be happy,” said Colebrook.
This meant learning focused more on online courses in math, English and science. While in contrast, social and science studies have included hands-on learning through their travels.
“To all of a sudden become your own kids’ teachers was definitely daunting,” said Colebrook. “Boy, do we ever have an appreciation for teachers!”
A typical day sees the students working on classwork in the morning, or using e-readers while on buses and airplanes to read and complete schoolwork.
“With flexibility in the timelines we found VVS a good fit for us,” says Colebrook. “And the learning and insights the kids gain from this trip helps them accept and embrace the diversity of the world. Something that will serve them well as they grow up.”
Those experiences have taken them through South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and more—including a planned final three months in France so they can continue their French immersion learning.
“To actually experience the places and things they have read about is truly amazing,” said Colebrook. “There is so much learning that happens on a daily basis that can not be measured conventionally. We even try to keep up with current events and the news, and have many conversations about global politics.”
The Colebrook 5 have been blogging and journaling daily activities, and that helps keep up with writing and documenting the adventures they have been on—scribing their learning experience and showing how we are all connected across the world.
“We wanted to experience this big beautiful world with them,” said Colebrook. “There is no doubt that time really does fly by much too fast. This trip was also meant as a ‘pause’ on our regular life. The routines and schedules would always be there. We wanted to experience a different pace and a different way of life.”
The family has seen a lot of the world, but a second trip is not out of the question either.
“One thing we’ve learned is life is unpredictable and full of surprises,” said Colebrook. “…and we’ve always wanted to learn Spanish!”
Photos from submitted via bigbluedot.xyz