Tuesday, November 5

Getting Started with Roadschooling

This was originally published on our Gypsy Road site.

Our Road-Schooling Journey

Once upon a time, our family lived on the road.  We traveled to as many at thirty-five states each year, while hubby performed contract jobs and the boys and I explored everything this amazing country has to offer!

Join us as we revisit some of the very best trips in the upcoming year.  Each post is updated to bring you travel tips for visiting the area with kids, as well learning resources to create your own unit study (should you desire).  We hope that you enjoy travelling with us!

Road-schooling :  a form of homeschooling that involves traveling, allowing the places and experiences to drive learning  (compatible with, but not the same as, Unschooling)


Besides geography...why roadschool?
  • Fill the gaps.  You may not study NASA in a regular year, but if you’re going to meet an astronaut in Houston, it only makes sense.
  • Peak their interests.  Most children aren’t interested in architecture, but when they visit the Biltmore House, Overholser Mansion, and Cornwall Iron Furnace, each with their distinct styles, they suddenly want to learn more!
  • Learn something new.  Two words : Factory Tour.  We’ve learned to make cheese, maple syrup, ice cream, chocolate, pretzels…hmm…maybe we should learn about more than food…
  • New friends.  The kids can talk to anyone, and love to meet new kids!  They can also manage a sales table fairly independently.  These are life skills.
Things I would go back and tell myself…
  • Know the requirements.  Follow the homeschool requirements of your home state, regardless of where you are currently located.  To be safe, you may want to check with Homeschool Legal Defense Association to make sure that you are completing all homeschool requirements.
  •  Plan ahead.  Learn about the area you’re visiting – check for museums, events, festivals, factory tours, and anything relevant to that specific location.  Websites will often have free educational resources to help guide your field trip.
  • Keep records.  Field trips count as school days, but you want to have ‘regular’ days in there also.  One day, you’re going to be accountable for that education.  This is one of the reasons that we started our blog – it allows us to document where we’ve gone and what we’ve seen.  It also allows us to connect with families in our current location, which is very nice!
  • Don’t get a boxed physical curriculum.  These are great in the traditional homeschool, but take up so much space in the car.  We use (or create) materials to accompany what we’re studying.  I’ll usually share these in a unit study on the blog page.  See the record-keeping in action?  Plus, it helps other families who may be travelling to the same location.  …..and it takes up much less space!
  • Relax.  We school through the summer, on the weekends, at midnight…pretty much whenever we want.  We get more than the required days in, and that’s fine.  We have a lot of field trip days, too.  Want to know which style helps the kids learn and retain the most?  Life experiences, of course!
  • Seriously.  Just relax!  There are days when we are sick of each other and want space.  There are days when we’re sick of being on the road and want to be home.  And there are days when we’re just plain sick.  Nothing is perfect.  But seeing the children experience this great country from sea to shining sea, having them enjoy the learning process, and watching them find and follow new passions is worth any minor inconveniences.  

Not ready to hit the road yet?  Here are some fantastic mini-courses for incorporating travel and culture into your homeschool!
 Learning Across the USA                Learning About World Cultures

Diary of a (Long-Travel) Day on the Road!
June 11, 2017
We had the distinct pleasure of having a ten-hour trip turn into a twenty-hour one on our drive yesterday... 

The trip started out with smiling, happy faces at five o'clock...in the morning.  Yes, there are actually two five o'clocks in the day...who knew?  My night owl promptly went back to sleep, while my morning bird bounced around.

We rolled along swimmingly for a while, stopping at Burger King for a quick breakfast because my son felt sad that he had "never been allowed to go to Burger King before."  He's so deprived.  He got the crown, which apparently was the impetus for the stop.
 
We continued to drive along and figured that as soon as the schoolwork was done, we'd stop again.  I like to take turns working with each of the boys separately in the backseat, while the other has some one-on-one time with Dad up front.  Unfortunately, we got engrossed, and never got around to taking that pit stop.

Now, you haven't experienced true impatience and frustration until you've sat in the car, on the parking lot that they call the interstate, for four hours.  With two kids bickering in the backseat.  With the car parked.  And everyone has to pee.

See those bushes along the side of the highway?  No, we didn't, but we sure gave it a lot of thought.  We made friends with a few nearby truckers who kept us updated on the radio chatter.  Turns out, there was a lane closure about ten miles ahead.  While there were no accidents, it seems that no one had received the memo on how to merge. 

I did not even know that Vera Mae had a pedestrian mode until she popped up with this!!!  It provided a nice moment of levity for the situation.  While we began to move slowly about an hour later, this was just one of the three times that traffic stops of this magnitude occurred yesterday.
 
FINALLY, we got to Ohio.  One of the first things we saw was the Budweiser factoryand it was pretty tempting!  A glass of wine for us, and a scoop of ice cream for the kids, and we were ready to settle down and unwind our nerves...

Just remember…”Life’s a journey, not a destination!”


  • You wake up in the morning having no idea what city, or state, you are in.
  • You tell the kids you are going to a museum, zoo, gallery, etc, and they say but we where there last week...and you need to remind them that was 3 states ago.
  • You do the laundry and realize you've washed legos, caterpillars, ignious rock (lava) a collection of crystals, smashed pennies from 4 different states, and their latest Junior Ranger certificate - all items left in their pockets.
  • Your kids constantly ask what state you are in.
  • When you realize your milk is from one state, your frozen beef is from another and your eggs are from yet another.
  • Our family talks in "states" rather than "months". For example some families might say, "hey remember last Feb when we did xyz"... while my family says, "hey remember when we were in Montana and did xyz" 
  • Perhaps knowing that different things in our coach are all from different states. this jacket from Arizona, this game from Alabama, this mug was from Montana, etc.
  • You know you're roadschooling when you've lose a sock every time you dry clothes in the dryer and each dryer is in a different state! I lost my green sock in TN, I lost my short sock in AL, missing one of my son's socks in ME, etc...
  • You realize you left a load of clothes in the dryer... 300 miles ago. Then trying to figure out how to have them shipped to you, but you aren't in one place long enough to receive mail.
  • Walk out of Walmart and not it do you not remember where you parked your giant truck, you have no idea what city or state you are even in.
  • You are learning all the Wal-Mart layouts after visiting hundreds of them around the country
  • You know what to expect when changing elevations...the milk jugs, chip bags, and all other sealed containers expand our contract.
  • Your Amazon.com account has address from over the country where you have had items delivered.
  • Your kids already have the concept of an elevator speech down pat. "Where are you from?" "We are on a 2 year road trip around the US blah blah blah"
  • You're talking to a lady at the Waco Tractor Supply Store, and she asks you where you are going next. You say, "Waco, Texas." When she gives you a weird look, you say, "I'm in Waco, TX, aren't I?"
  • You hoard quarters for doing laundry at the next stop.
  •  You keep changing the radio station every hour, not because the music is bad, but because you keep driving out of range.
  • You give up and put on audiobooks for the duration.
  • You get your seasons get confused.
  • Your 2- year- old sees a bathtub, looks confused, and asks what it is.
  • You tell your kids we can come back another day to a place and they both say in unison "but we won't be in this city again."
  • Your son asks whether they take pesos or colones at the market.

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