Roadschooling: The Ultimate Educational Travel Adventure!
Flexibility is one of the main factors that draws families to homeschooling—particularly flexibility in scheduling and in individualizing instruction. What many families overlook, however, is the flexibility that homeschooling brings to where schooling takes place. Can you homeschool outside of the home? Absolutely! Roadschooling, or “learning on the road,” is one form of homeschooling that essentially transforms the world into your classroom. You can start and stop roadschooling anytime and how you do it can be as unique as the child you are homeschooling.
Homeschooling families often capitalize on field trips, extending the classroom to include local museums, natural spaces, and historic sites or using car time while running errands to maximize learning opportunities. Some venture further to include “day trips” or plan learning experiences along with vacations, or vice versa. Some families, like Sandra Peña’s family, purchase an RV and immerse themselves in roadschooling for an extended period, exploring another part of the country for several weeks, months, or even years. Regardless of where your family belongs on the “roadschooling continuum,” roadschooling can be an exciting way to break down the walls of your classroom, merge vacations with learning opportunities, and benefit from what the world has to offer your child!
Fun Fact! Did you know that Time4Learning’s 4th Grade Social Studies curriculum follows a family on a virtual road trip around the United States? If you have a child interested in U.S. geography, exploration, regional characteristics, and more, they will love this Social Studies curriculum!
Reasons to Roadschool
What are the advantages of learning while traveling? Although traveling homeschoolers could surely add more, here are a few of the major advantages of roadschooling:
Increased engagement: Roadschooling allows for children to be out in the world. Experiential, hands-on learning can be exciting for children as it involves multiple senses and often total immersion in what is being learned. Children move beyond textbooks and more traditional curriculum and instruction toward self-directed learning and relevant in-the-moment life skills development.
New and varied learning experiences: The real-world experiences of roadschooling can prompt STEM-based questions and opportunities for project-based learning. Children can learn critical thinking skills while attempting to solve relevant problems in creative and innovative ways, practice art and writing in natural settings, become a junior ranger, and develop esthetic awareness while watching performances and exploring historical sites. The possibilities are endless!
Maximized learning time: Using car time can allow your child to complete more structured learning activities while on the road, which is especially important if you have a student athlete or performer who needs to travel. While your family is roadschooling, the days are no longer broken into “school” and “not school” periods. Learning occurs all the time through whatever the family is experiencing and overlaps with what would be considered vacations, holidays, or breaks. A culture of learning is developed that supports and motivates lifelong learning habits.
Enhanced diversity and global awareness: As children roadschool and move beyond the limits of their homeschool classroom walls, they begin to develop a sense of themselves as part of a larger global community. They observe and interact with people of diverse backgrounds and experiences and begin to explore their identities and roles in the world.
Social learning: Traveling homeschoolers will often comment about the joys of learning together. Family members who roadschool experience events and environments and people and then discuss what they have experienced, compare points of view, and make connections and conclusions—all while learning with and from each other.
How Do Kids Socialize?
While learning with and from other family members can be very powerful, children still need to interact with peers. Veteran homeschoolers know about the myth that homeschoolers lack socialization, and roadschoolers have options, too. In fact, serious roadschoolers have their own communities, and socialization with other RVers, for example, can be an important part of the roadschooling experience. Even for those who want to dabble in roadschooling, families can use technology to establish connections for their children through virtual hangouts with friends, meetup groups, or online clubs. Children can be encouraged to have pen pals or participate in collaborative learning experiences in the areas in which they travel or through online venues. Part of the adventure can be finding homeschool groups and programs in local areas wherever you stop on your travels.
Homeschooling Laws While Traveling
New and veteran homeschoolers know that homeschooling begins with finding out the homeschooling rights and responsibilities in your state. What happens, though, if you are roadschooling and crossing state lines? Are there certain roadschooling laws you need to follow? If you are considering roadschooling part-time, and you are already homeschooling, you can likely continue to follow the homeschooling laws of the state where you reside. If, however, you are starting out as a full-time roadschooler, you may want to do your research. You may be able to identify a state “home base” in which the homeschool laws are less restrictive. State laws, especially homeschool laws, can change, so be sure that you know your rights and responsibilities as a traveling homeschooler before embarking on your next adventure.
How Do You Plan Roadschooling?
In addition to learning homeschooling laws, how else should you plan for roadschooling? Obviously, roadschooling needs to be something that your family can accomplish given the responsibilities and lifestyles of your family members. Depending on where you sit on the roadschooling continuum, your family may need to reflect on career situations, financial goals, extended family obligations, and other such considerations. Once you decide that roadschooling is right for your family, here are four important steps to include in your planning:
Identify your goals for roadschooling: Determine what is most important for your experiences as roadschoolers and keep these goals at the forefront of your minds.
Determine a roadschooling schedule that works for you: How flexible will your homeschool schedule be? How often and for how long can you be on the road? Does a transition to year-long homeschooling make sense given your travel plans or your desire to reduce summer slide?
Decide on a curriculum and/or types of learning experiences: While roadschooling, will you follow an unschooling philosophy, project-based method, or unit study approach? Do you want an online curriculum that can be used anytime and anywhere? For example, Time4Learning’s online curriculum is accessible 24 hours a day and seven days a week, wherever the Internet is available. Its online options for subject area grade-level selection, course customizability, and parent tools (such as automatic grading) make it not only portable but also perfect for traveling homeschoolers with more than one child. The best part is that the curriculum covers math, language arts, science, and social studies, as well as middle school electives, high school electives, and foreign languages, so you don’t need the space for additional books and curriculum materials.
Plan connections: As you decide where to visit, maximize the connections your child will be able to make between your travels and any more formal curriculum. For example, when you visit historical sites, link the learning to history lessons, and use state unit studies to follow your travels across state lines.
Most of all, remember that learning while traveling can be fun, and educational travel adventures can maximize your child’s potential for learning. Enjoy experiential learning together—whether it is a local field trip or an extended journey through the United States!