Unschooling and attachment parenting in Asia

Well, we have been unschooling and attachment parenting here in Phuket for about 4 months. I’m still breastfeeding Kaya, who turned 3 in March. We’ve done one visa run to the Andaman Club, and are planning where we will do our next in July. I would love to go to KL, Cambodia, or maybe Singapore. Lots of good destinations to choose from, but we will choose the easiest possible until Kaya gets over her toddler terror tantrums that mimic the exorcist ( minus the projectile vomit).
Before we moved to Italy, ( where we lived for 6 months) we lived in Paju, South Korea, and I was a SAHM, APer and unschooling mom. I did not meet any other homeschoolers when I was there, however I’ve read that the movement is growing. Attachment parenting is popular. Everywhere in Geumchon, we saw grandmothers and moms toting toddlers and babies on their backs. It was refreshing to see this. I didn’t nurse Kaya in public very often, because Kaya was grabby when she was a toddler and likes to have both of ‘the goods’ out to fondle. Nonetheless, I have seen several women nurse their small children in Korea, and bumped into one family here in Phuket who nursed their daughter to 3.5.

In Korea and Thailand, family is important to the culture. Not that it isn’t everywhere, but I have noticed it is especially so here. And they love children. I will be honest with you: in Cortona, it was much more reserved and less kid friendly. As a child growing up in France, I didn’t notice this as much, but then again we were in the South of France, and the motto their is ‘tranquille’. I feel more comfortable being a mom now that I am in Asia, especially in Phuket, because even if someone disagree with my homeschooling Kaya, they respect that that is what we do and have that same ‘tranquille’ attitude, which they call ‘ mai pen rai’. Think of this as ‘its all good’.

Homeschooling in Asia is compelling, in my opinion, for several reasons. The first is what I mentioned above, in how family is revered. The second is that there is so much to learn, so many opportunities for educational activities, water sports, cultural studies, and gastronomic endeavors. One can take one’s older kids to a Thai cooking class, if cooking intrigues them. The TV here is educational in that it has Japanese, Korean, French, German, Spanish, and Russian channels, with little to no adverts tempting your kids to go and eat junk food. The kids channel, Boomerang, is bilingual. Korea had international channels as well, but we didn’t have cable at the time.

If you are looking for work in your home country and are fluent in English, then moving your family to Asia is another wonderful opportunity to consider. If you are very picky about the recruiter who helps you find a school ( if you are going to teach in Korea, Japan, or China; if you want to teach here in Thailand, you need to be here in person to get the best jobs), the school itself ( make sure you get the housing you need, or help finding what you want), and your hours ( some schools will overwork you, which is the problem we had in Korea; when Billy got home at about 6:30, he had more lesson plans to do, so we barely saw eachother), and the location of the school and your housing. BE PICKY. If you are, you will end up having an amazing experience. If not, you will have a horror story ( or just an unpleasant one). What we have noticed is that the GEPIK, EPIK, and hogwans in Korea mainly provide single housing for teachers, which means most families will be unable to teach; the system is catered to singles or couples. I have a gigantic problem with this, because we are a family and have pets. We got lucky and had a 3 bedroom, but this is rare and most frequently found in Paju and not Seoul or Busan, or Gangwon-do.

In 4 Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss goes over how living in certain countries will allow your money/funds/income to spread further, as housing costs less. Thus, if you are struggling to pay the bills and want a cheaper, simpler lifestyle for your homeschooling/unschooling family, Asia is a great home base to consider. If you have savings and can move your fam over here without needing to work for a while, then going to say Chiang Mai or Northern Thailand is perfect, as the housing is less then in Phuket. If you do need to find work or start your own company, because of Phuket’s tourism industry, there is a great need for teachers and businesses who can cater to foreigners.

One unschooling and APing family that comes to mind are the Mass’s in Bohol, Phillipines. They wanted a simple, more holistic lifestyle for their son Ben, and since they are a raw food family, they cac get all of the tropical fruits they want. They wanted the 4 hour workweek dream, and got it, opening a business that takes care of itself while they enjoy time with their son.

Homeschooling is growing in India, for anyone who is considering moving there. From learning Ayurveda to having a deep spiritual life, India has much to offer the alternative family. Temples, shrines, libraries, churches, mosques, mountains, incredible food, a warm hearted country of bhaktas….what an educational treat! Although sending kids to school is compulsory, India’s Minister of Education Kapil Sibal released a statement through The Times of India stating that the β€œRTE Act wants every child to be in school, but if somebody decides not to send his/her children to school, we [the government] are not going to interfere. The compulsion is on the state, not on the parents. Parents are free not to send their children to school, but teach them at home. We cannot be micromanaging.” ( see http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/India/default.asp for more details and homeschooling groups)

What about having a natural birth in Asia?

Like everywhere else, the C section rate in Asia is growing. From my experience, one has to be very pushy with one’s doctor, and if one is clear of what they want ( and is physically able to have it) then one will get the desired birth experience. I will be having a VBAC for my next child ( which we plan on conceiving soon lol) and like many moms worldwide, I am finding it hard to find a hospital who offers them. But I did find one in Bangkok, which some would say is the best hospital in Thailand. Samitivej offers VBACs and waterbirths. ( for a VBAC story in Samitivej, read this story on parentvine)

Unschooling is a new concept, and homeschooling is growing. More and more people want to be with their kids longer, enjoy life more as a family versus being separated. Attachment parenting is trending, and more and more moms are opting for home births and VBACs the world over. I just met a family who homeschools their kids here, and did the same in China. More nomadic unschoolers!

Maybe we’re everywhere and we just don’t know it yet…..

For some good reads on homeschooling/unschooling/APing/VBACing in Asia:




About Elizabeth Kelsey Bradley

Writer, Blog Coach, and Digital Strategist based in Thailand. Wellness fan. Gamer.
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11 Responses to Unschooling and attachment parenting in Asia

  1. i love reading of your experiences- inspiring! i do think that here in the US, the tv commercials and shows just are awful – junk food, and forcing kids to grow up too quickly.

  2. vanillaisis says:

    love the information!! I have looked extensively into teaching opportunities abroad, but have not yet found one that suits me and five children. As far as VBAC, if you cannot be allowed, I recommend unassisted. I’ve done 2 (both after the C). πŸ™‚ Namaste and much blessings to the family from West Texas. 1 ❀

    • I would love to do unassisted!! We heard of a family doing it in Cambodia ( in the ocean lol!) and just taking the baby to a hospital to get a birth cert. I would LOVE to do it. πŸ™‚

  3. Rebeca says:

    This is great to read as we start to plan our travels. Our kids are 8, 6, 3, and 1, and the two youngest are still BFing. We homeschool in a very relaxed way, but that will look a lot more like unschooling when we’re on the road.
    I’m curious if you vaccinate at all? I’m totally comfortable not doing it here in the US, and we’ve taken our unvacced kids to Mexico four times, but I haven’t really looked into it for other places.

    • Hey hun! We did not vaccinate her at all. The main thing out here, like Mexico, are water born illnesses and dange, which is spread by mosquitos. I am going to do an article on must have natural remedies for international travel, and I highly recc the products from http://www.herbdoc.com. He has something called formula number 2 which is amazing for a food poisoning or upset tum.
      Where are you and your fam planning on going?
      Blessings to you!!

  4. Rebeca says:

    Thanks… will check out herbdoc. We do lots of probiotic foods and supplements, and believe that goes a long way toward helping keep tummy troubles at bay. I’ll look forward to reading your take on health and international travel. It seems that so much of the advice is just the standard “get your immunizations and carry these meds”.
    We’re not yet sure where we’re going! Hoping to do a year of traveling to several countries, spending one to two months in each place. Definitely want to include India and Thailand in there, but we shall see. After that, hopefully we’ll pick a place to settle down for a while.

    • That sounds like a GREAT plan; two wonderful countries, both are my favs! The wonderful thing about us living in Phuket is how close it is to so many countries: Korea and bali are 6 hours away ( direct flights), Delhi is 5 hrs from Bangkok…If you end up in India, you will certainly be close to us!!

  5. Rebeca says:

    Where in India would you recommend for kids? I spent close to five months there when I was single, but it will be different with a family.
    Bali is high on our wish list too!

    • I was alone when I was there as well LOL! I stayed outside of Delhi, in a place called Faridabad. It was very safe but more like a suburb so it was a little boring. However, with kids it may be great as at Jiva ( where I studied Ayurveda) they have a large school right across from it, so the kids can play in the large playground and inside the building. It was cheap to stay there, 45 dollars including meals. I would love to go to belur math, which I think is in Calcutta…

  6. Tina says:

    I tried to UC here in Phuket, but it became a transfer, it was my first birth, not easy.

    Next time I would hire a midwife that I know (who has attended several home/water births on Phuket already) to come from Australia. Her blog is: http://majikfaerie.blogspot.com/

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