Spotlight on the Crew — Homeschooling on the Road
We have spent 10 years on the road, traveling from state to state, with six children, so my experiences will be a little different than just taking a trip and homeschooling. I do feel like I can give some helpful hints.
Our children came in pairs. Two older daughters, approximately 2 years apart and then 6 years later my oldest son was born. His brother followed about 2 years later. After another two years we went back to girls again. They are 3 years apart. So, during our time on the road I had four children in school.
At the time we went on the road, the older girls had already graduated, so they were old enough to assist with teaching. We had been through a variety of school curriculum by this time, and were experienced enough that I felt comfortable using different curriculums for different classes. We also did some classes without curriculum, creating as we went along. Traveling actually added an element to our homeschooling. We were able to visit historical sites, visit museums and do science hiking through state parks.
Now, I know most of you reading this article will be looking for help when you travel, maybe taking a week or two of time away from home. This is quite a bit easier than full-time on the road. I found that the fewer materials we had to pack along with us, the easier schooling was. Four children with 5-6 courses each day, all in a separate grade can mean a load of materials. I don’t know how many times a book was misplaced or lost for a few days because we had to pack and move on. We used milk crates to keep the books, notebooks, and other supplies together.
So, we use the KISS method, Keep It Simple Schooling. Yes I know the last word has been changed, but it works! We combined our Bible class with Dad teaching. He would do small studies, assign memory verses, and then prepare a small quiz for the next day. I tried to carry as few actual books as possible and combine classes when we could.
We used what was around us to study. Be sure to find out about museums and historical sites where you will be traveling and then make the most of them. One year as we traveled the east coast we stopped at every Civil War site we could. Even the older girls became more interested in Civil War history. They read any book they could get their hands on. When possible they would do research on the internet, and then they would write reports on what they read or the site we had visited. This was a class we were able to do at all the different age levels at the same time. Sometimes they were required to write a factual report, other times I allowed them to write a fiction story based on history. While in Texas we had a chance to view the windmills and learn about them.
When at the coast we would collect shells and study the different shells, where they came from, and what had lived in them. We also looked up dolphins and whales we had sighted. Use a trip to the zoo to study species of animals, habitats, and you can even study the food the different animals eat. Be sure to incorporate things from your surrounding area into your homeschooling curriculum. We visited a Butterfly Museum and studied butterflies.
We used time in the vehicle for reading out loud, practicing facts, or study time. Writing in a moving vehicle is just too sloppy, especially for the younger children. Reading together was not only fun, it was educational. We read fiction, biographies, and history books together. This helped not only with information, but I was able to listen to each child read and give help when necessary. All of my children have a love for reading and I believe this helped to foster that love. My youngest reads history for pleasure! She did not get that from me!
Not only did they learn from books and sites we visited, but they learned from the people we were around. They learned things from families we visited, that fixed meals differently than we did, or used words we did not commonly use. My children still remember the Pastor’s wife we met in New York, who was originally from Louisianna. Not only did they find her accent fun to listen to, but she shared a story about the time she asked someone to pack her child. She meant she needed her carried to the vehicle. She also talked about building a pallet for her baby. No, not one of those wooden things, she meant a soft bed of blankets on the floor. Here are just a few more they learned, soda, pop and cola are used interchangeably. Or how about cart and buggy, both meaning a shopping cart.
Then there is the food they have been able to try and collect recipes for. We always tried to ask for recipes unique to the areas we were visiting in. Or perhaps that were special to the family we were visiting. All my daughters have a wide collection of recipes they have gathered through the years on the road. We learned about a new food just recently in New Mexico called Menudo. Look this one up!
The travel also helped teach my children lessons they would not had learned otherwise; like, dealing with a variety of people from all different walks of life. They have the ability to meet strangers and not feel uncomfortable opening conversations. They have the ability to relate to both people older than them and younger children.
Oh! You can also study weather! The clouds, storms, and even rainbows!
We tried to have a loose schedule while traveling. We needed to have that in place, or it was too easy to not do school at all, but at the same time we needed flexibility. Remember, homeschooling gives you the ability to change gears and enjoy what you are doing. I highly recommend homeschooling while traveling. It has enriched our family and is well worth any inconveniences we experienced.
Lori Lyman has 6 children ages 11-27, all of whom have been homeschooled their entire lives. She spent 10 years on the road living in an RV traveling the states as her husband preached. Having 3 children who have graduated, 1 graduated soon and 2 more still working toward graduation she has experienced many different types and levels of homeschooling. The family presently has a home-base where they now shoot out for meetings, so homeschooling is still done on the run occasionally. She has a website where she does product reviews and shares a little bit about her family. You can visit the site: www.atthefenceonline.com