Homeschooling is all about learning from the world around us and what better way to experience history and nature firsthand than by taking a family Road Schooling trip!
It can be done, and not just by those families who live in an RV full time and can work remotely, but by regular Valiant families like ours! I did it myself: 1 mama, 2 kids, 4 weeks from Miami to
New York City, homeschooling our way up the coast
Several years ago, a friend posted a picture on Facebook: a huge white van with rugged black tires parked in front of a lush, green mountain. Their family was going to travel the country in a
van, homeschooling their four kids along the way. My heart grabbed onto that idea- Me, too! it shouted, knowing it couldn’t ever happen for me. I wish I could do that. I wish I had a husband
with a job he could do remotely. I pushed the wishes to the back of my mind, tucked in next to the other dreams that would never be realized. Then, last year, a new thought was born: If I
really want to do this, why can’t I do it by myself, just the kids and I?
That was the beginning of our epic adventure! With the flexibility of being a Valiant homeschooling family, we made my dream happen and it’s a memory my two boys and I will always treasure. My 8th grader and my 6th grader were on board, and my husband agreed to take his vacation time to meet up with us for the last week of the trip. We could have our monthly EC meeting and turn in our work remotely from wherever we were. So I booked a camper van, planned (and revised, and revised again) an itinerary, reserved lots of campsites, and signed up for unlimited data on my phone so we could work from a hotspot while we traveled. We pared down the boys’ learning materials to a few textbooks and journals, kindles for reading, a binder crammed with school supplies and paper, and their ChromeBooks (to access online learning, Google docs, and slides). We even made room for our guitars for campground sing-a-longs and to pass the time on the drive. We were off!
Our classroom became places like Everglades National Park, Kennedy Space Center, Fort Sumter, Civil Rights Museums, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Colonial Williamsburg, the 9/11 Memorial, our nation’s Capital, and Independence Hall. I loved seeing school kids on field trips experiencing these historic places with their teachers, while I got to “chaperone” my own class of two students and turn it into a family memory.
That month together on the road and the slower pace of life are things I will always cherish. Nobody was rushing to get dressed or to get out the door, and every day was a new adventure.
One morning we cooked breakfast burritos by a lake in South Carolina, then cleaned up the dishes and the van. We played a game of pool in the campground Rec Room and then the boys did an online Science test before reading some of Frederick Douglass’s autobiography for English and History. I uploaded pictures from my phone to our Google drive for a Google slideshow they were doing about scientific concepts in real life, while they paddle boarded on the pond in our campground. Later that day we drove to the Great Smoky Mountains and the boys did more schoolwork during the drive before we lost Internet access in the mountains and took our “class” on an afternoon hike through the rain in the Smokies.
Not your typical “school day,” but I’d argue that they remember more about ecosystems and Frederick Douglass than most kids their age. (It helps that we also visited Douglass’s home towards the end of our trip, making history come alive more than it ever could from any textbook.) Other days I had lessons planned that we never got to because we spent the afternoon swimming in the Atlantic Ocean or taking an impromptu fan boat tour of the Everglades to see alligators and learn firsthand about marshes.
At the beginning of our trip I had grand plans to start each day with Math & English, but the van was so hot in the morning that we had to get outside in nature or start driving to get the a/c
running. Sometimes we’d spend the morning on field trips to the history and nature sights around us and the afternoon reflecting on our learning in writing or through family conversations.
Most of the book work was done while driving and we “read” several classic novels together by listening to books as we drove. When you’re RoadSchooling, flexibility is key- go with the flow.
Take advantage of the unexpected learning experiences that come your way no matter what your school checklist or your itinerary says. I promise you the learning will happen organically
and you’ll be amazed at how much deeper their understanding will be than it was at home.
No great story ever started with the words, “So we decided to stay home.” Take advantage of our flexibility as homeschoolers. If I can do it, you can do it! One small and seemingly
impossible dream turned into one month, 13 states, over 3,000 miles, lots of lifelong learning and countless memories. So hit the road homeschoolers!