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Carol Tan, Rakcent Wong and their son, Atlas, have traveled across 23 countries and counting since the start of 2024.

Courtesy of Rakcent Wong

“You won’t be able to travel anymore after having children.” Carol Tan, 36, and Rakcent Wong, 35, often received that age-old advice before having their son, Atlas — but they were determined to prove the naysayers wrong.

The Singaporean family took a sabbatical from work to “worldschool” their 4-year-old child and has traveled from Switzerland to Denmark to Nepal, across 23 countries since the start of the year.

What is ‘worldschooling’?

Simply put, ‘worldschooling’ refers to making the world once classroom.

Sometimes, it involves parents who choose to embark on a “family gap year,” and take their children out of their hometown schools to introduce them to different parts of the world, helping them learn through immersive experiences that quench their innate curiosity.

While some families take a more structured approach by enrolling their kids into schools abroad or by creating their own curriculum, much like how homeschooling is, others take a more flexible approach.

Tan and Wong motorcycled across Southeast Asia.

Courtesy of Rakcent Wong

How the journey began

After meeting in 2011, Tan and Wong fell in love and soon found a mutual passion for traveling.

“Our style of traveling before we had Atlas was a little ‘off the beaten path’ type,” Wong told CNBC Make It. From going to Iceland on a camper van and motorcycling across Southeast Asia, to sleeping in the desert in Egypt and exploring a safari in Sri Lanka, the couple loved being adventurous in their travels.

“We realized [that] after every trip, we always gained something — there’s some kind of growth and transformation that we experience, just both on a personal level and as a couple,” Wong said.

If we put our child into preschool — from morning to night, we are really losing out on the most amazing part of our child’s journey — as a father, I want to be there, I want to see his firsts.

Tan and Wong decided that they would not only continue to travel, but also bring Atlas along with them. “We [knew] that traveling is going to be so beneficial for him, especially in his formative years before he goes to primary school,” Wong said.

“We feel that, as parents, if we put our child into preschool — from morning to night, we are really losing out on the most amazing part of our child’s journey, because this is [where] they learn many of their firsts,” Wong said. “As a father, I want to be there, I want to see his firsts.”

The couple decided that the best time to take the trip would be when their child was between the ages of 4 and 6. During these years, while their kid would be old enough to absorb the world, he would also be too young to start formal primary school yet, which is compulsory in Singapore.

4-year-old Atlas is on a worldschooling adventure with his parents.

Courtesy of Rakcent Wong

Atlas and the world

Over the course of five years of saving and investments, Tan and Wong accumulated enough to help them take the leap of faith.

“People always think that Singaporeans are rich and Singaporeans are well to do, but actually — we are not,” Tan said. “It’s really just pure hard-earned savings,” said Wong. The couple often asked themselves: “how much [can we] spend comfortably without going hungry in a month?”

By January 2024, Tan and Wong began their work sabbaticals, took Atlas out of school and the family traveled to their first destination — Greece. They did not wish to share their line of work.

We feel that it’s the foundation of learning should be built on curiosity.

The family travels to a new destination almost every week, and between all of the exploring, they teach Atlas using three core principles:

  1. Sparking curiosity
  2. Encouraging problem solving
  3. Socialization through immersion

“We feel that the foundation of learning should be built on curiosity,” said Wong. “Then, the second part is the drive to really discover the solution.”

“Just as important, the third one would be [learning how] to be social, because — alone, you can know so much, but together you can do a lot more,” Wong said.

Through his travels, Atlas learns to make friends with local children.

Courtesy of Rakcent Wong

Much of Atlas’ curriculum is centered around play. Tan and Wong create many opportunities for their son to experience and absorb diverse environments.

From playing with children in Montenegro who speak a different language, to learning how to share with new friends on local playgrounds, Atlas often meets kids from different backgrounds and cultures.

The couple also teach him by modeling behaviors. Whether it is modeling the “spirit of learning” by asking each other questions when they don’t know something, said Wong, or modeling how to resolve conflicts on the road — Tan and Wong are learning alongside Atlas as they travel.

The impact of ‘worldschooling’



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