Taking your family on the road in an RV is one of the best ways to have a safe and fun vacation, or it can be one of the most rewarding ways of living your life. However, being out on the road for extended periods of time can come with certain challenges. One of the most important is how to get your kids the schooling they need.
Homeschooling while traveling, also known as “roadschooling,” is a great way to teach your kids all that they need to know. Before you take homeschooling on the road, you might wonder how to make it work. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at homeschooling your kids on the road and discuss some lessons learned from folks living the lifestyle. Let’s dive in.
Choose Curriculum Model That Works For Your Family
Another thing every parent who is interested in homeschooling should think about is the curriculum. A lot of people wonder what they would teach their kids and how they will teach it to them. There are many curriculums out there for you to choose from. It’s tough to say when curriculum is better than others, but the types of learning your kids can do will likely fall into one of three types:
- online programs
- all-in-one workbooks
As you might imagine, online curriculums are varied. They allow your children to learn at their own pace and are often guided. There’s a proven plan behind the good ones, and you can often be sure your kids are learning what they need to. Two that seem popular are Time4Learning and Khan Academy, though there are many others. You’ll need an internet connection for your kids to complete these assignments, which can pose a challenge on the road, but is not insurmountable.
Workbooks are another great option. There are dozens of all-in-one workbook programs out there. If you don’t have internet access all the time but you want your children to follow a proven plan, then this is another great option. Some all-in-one workbook options include Brain Quest, Sylvan, and Flash Kids. Another good thing to do is look to see if your state recommends any learning workbooks or tools. Supplement workbook activity with reading for fun. This ignites curiosity and keeps kids asking questions.
Last but certainly not least, is unschooling. This is where you use life experiences to help your children learn. It’s more child-led learning and doesn’t use a set curriculum. Karen Apkan of “The Mom Trotter,” uses the un-schooling technique with her son. Lindsay Lane, a full time RVing mom, says to plan for a period of “de-schooling,” where your kids adjust to a new kind of lifestyle and learning process.
There are tons of resources and books out there for this type of education, and you’ll find it’s popular among roadschooling RVers. Some good books on the subject include The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith and The Unschooling Unmanual edited by Jan and Jason Hunt. These can serve as a good introduction to the topic.
No matter what program or curriculum you choose, you still need to be involved in your child’s schooling. Ana Willis of They Call Me Blessed, said in a roadschooling episode of our podcast that you don’t actually even need to know the types of things your kids are learning. “You’re learning alongside them,” she said. “And when you make that change in your mind, that you don’t need to know it all to do it, it changes everything.”
As you can imagine, a good curriculum removes some of the burden of you, the parent, to be the teacher. While having a good curriculum or plan can be important, it’s not everything. When homeschooling on the road, you have the flexibility to let your child’s education branch out and blossom with their interests.
As Jessica of Exploring the Local Life, said in Episode 45 of our podcast, “We aren’t necessarily the teachers. We do introduce concepts but a lot of what we do is child-led learning, so we follow their interest because we’ve found that when we’ve done that, it means a lot more to them.”
That seems to be something that most RVers homeschooling their kids on the road like about the process. It allows for flexibility that a regular school curriculum will not.
Embrace Natual Learners
First and foremost, it’s important to note that homeschooling can be dramatically different than a typical school program. This is a good thing! It allows for so many opportunities that a typical schooling experience simply can’t match. This unconventional approach is something you need to embrace.
Ana said parents need to “de-school,” themselves.
“We were programmed into this mentality that school needs to happen eight hours a day, and it only happens through textbooks. That’s not true. We were born natural-learners, and we learn a lot more from experiences than from just reading about it.”
Homeschooling on the road, or rather learning on the road, allows your kids to embrace this natural tendency to want to learn from experience, and that means you need to seek out opportunities that let them do that. Research your destination ahead of time and consider the locale across all disciplines. What is this place’s history? What is the geology, biology, and wildlife like here? Are there any books, songs, poets, or literature associated with this place? How cool would it be to learn about the USA’s beginnings while actually seeing early colonial settlements first-hand. Instead of just reading about specific animals, you actually went on a hike to try spotting them in the wild? With homeschooling on the road, this is possible.
Building a curriculum around your travels takes some extra time, but keeps kids engaged and curious. Learning doesn’t just happen in a classroom or a museum, it happens at all times of the day.
The beauty of homeschooling on the road is that you can visit the places and do activities that other students will only read about. For traditional students, field trips happen only a few times a year. For roadschooling students–field trips happen every day. In essence, every adventure becomes a learning experience. Life becomes your children’s education.
Connect With Other Families
Despite what some people think, there are plenty of families out there homeschooling their kids on the road. While these families might not all use the same curriculum, or be in the same place at the same time, they do often connect.
Ana said that her own blog has a Facebook community of over 3,000 very supportive moms. Ana also has a membership you can join, but you certainly don’t have to. She’s just one of the people out there offering an online community for homeschoolers.
Jessica of Exploring the Local Life, says you can also find more people to connect with at RV rallies, local homeschooling meetups, RV homeschooling meetups, local community centers, and other gatherings. If you start looking for a homeschooling or roadschooling community near you, you’re bound to find something. Having a sense of community can help make the experience even more enjoyable. It also helps supplement a child’s social-emotional learning with relationship building.
Make Sure You Abide By the Homeschooling Laws of Your State
Homeschooling is regulated on a state level. The laws and regulations vary greatly between states, so check what is legal in your domicile state. For full-time RVers, you’ll need to establish a domicile if you don’t have one. This will allow you to ensure you’re meeting the homeschooling rules and regulations.
The good news is that if you’re a full-time RVer and don’t like the laws in your home state, then you can change that. It takes some research, but it’s not too difficult to change your domicile. According to Chelsea Gonzales of Wonder Wherever We Wander, Texas is a common state people to choose for a home address. She does say that everyone is different, and you need to think about your specific situation and what’s right for you.
No matter what state you have as your domicile, just make sure you’re sticking to its laws surrounding homeschooling, and you’ll be fine. In most cases, this won’t be an issue.
Do you homeschool your kids on the road? What have your experiences been like? We want to know. Leave a comment below!