Homeschooling While Traveling
If you ask a random sampling of homeschooling families, they will all tell you individual reasons for making that choice. Their reasons may differ greatly, but at the core, we all just want what is best for our kids and our families. Sometimes that looks like traditional school at home, sometimes it takes the form of unschooling while living our lives, and sometimes it’s all about school while traveling!
Homeschooling on the road can seem daunting because a lot of us are stuck on school being textbooks at a desk and a spelling test on Fridays. We actually tend to do just that – we often use textbooks at a desk and always do spelling tests on Fridays, but we are also not shy to go where life takes us and keep learning along the way. Even traditional school at a desk can be happily done in a hotel room–as long as you have the books and you make the time. Veteran homeschoolers will tell you school happens in the living room on the couch or a back porch swing even more frequently in some families than it does at a desk in a more traditional setting. Sitting on a nice, big hotel bed surrounded by books is yet another way to do it.
School while traveling also opens opportunities typically not available to those schooling at home. New landscapes and topography are exciting to see and can spark an interest in learning about the area when you’re back at home. Taking a trip to the local library opens adventure and a new world by the sheer virtue of it being new to your family. Museums, science centers, art galleries, aquariums, zoos, national parks, and local historical landmarks are other great places to go for out-of-the-ordinary field trips. Some city halls and hotels have brochures for both the well and lesser known local attractions, and a lot of educational places have worksheet or guide books you can download and print to take with you or pick up there to help with your adventure.
Sometimes traveling while homeschooling isn’t about an epic drive across the country (though sometimes it is). It may be about a week or weekend out of town to visit family, or it could be a work-related opportunity. Especially if you are out of town for a reason that needs your attention, these trips don’t afford the same new excursions as others, but this can be a time to practice trouble areas, get ahead in reading, or even work on cursive or dive into an elective. Since a major motivator for many homeschooling families is time together, breaking up the usual routine of the day and working on different tasks together can be a great learning experience in flexibility.
One of our daughters does competitive dance, which involves us being out of town for a few days at a time sometimes or just one really long day a few hours from home. We currently do most of our schooling online, and when internet connections in these resorts and convention centers get a little spotty, we break out the textbooks and get ahead in her paperwork. Seeing a little girl all dolled up in a sequined costume bent over a grammar book is priceless! At the end of the week / month / year, the set lessons are completed, just not always necessarily in the outlined order, but that’s life in general isn’t it?
Our journey in homeschooling (and our journey through the spaces we have used) was a little backwards. We started out in a big house with plenty of room for a separate school area, and our older children were in school full time! We then made the decision to homeschool during an international move and spent the first little while working on the road. Then we worked in an Extended Stay hotel, later in a very small apartment, and finally in a larger apartment with a yard. Of course sometimes it was challenging to keep things organized, but just like with anything else, you get a groove going and you do it. We can choose to make sit down school the focus and structure life around it, but we can also choose to see that learning happens with every new adventure, and we can embrace the fun that comes with that!
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I am a fiercely domestic, hilariously traditional, unexpectedly nerdy city kid living in Los Angeles. I am madly in love with my husband of 14 years, and we are homeschooling our three very active and creative wee ones. I bake and cook a lot. I read. I knit until my wrists hurt and am generally pretty crafty. I chronicle all of this at So Very Domestic.
Travel is an amazing opportunity to break out of the mold and let the kids experience new adventures. Like you said, it doesn’t need to be a long road trip to expose kids to new things to learn. We recently went to California and spent the day at the beach. My middle daughter was in hog heaven twisting her toes in the sand, picking up sea shells and wading in the water. Even though we weren’t doing “school” that day, I know that my girls were learning in all the fun they were having. They created a sand castle that they pretended was a deserted island and used seaweed and sticks to make flags. It was awesome!