I come across a lot of travel influencers who make living on the road permanently seem like a fun, perfect, and even easy-to-obtain lifestyle. Among these are families traveling year-round, mom, dad, and kids all living like nomads, embracing the cultures of the world wholeheartedly while seeing the exotic sites of Europe, Eastern Asia, or South America. In all the Instagram, Facebook, and blog posts, everything seems sublime, and those kids are getting a remarkable experience through what’s become known as “worldschooling.”
Now, while we probably all know that things aren’t entirely sunshine and roses for these nomadic families (Have you ever tried to herd three tired kids through a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, aren’t familiar with the currency, and don’t have cell service, let alone change a diaper on a plane?), their lifestyles look pretty tempting, especially while you’re grading math sheets at a messy table, trying to get dinner on the stove, and the dog is whining.
But for those families who don’t want to go full-on nomad, you can still give your children the benefits of travel! There are so, so many benefits to be had, especially for homeschooling families. You already know that every situation is an opportunity for education, and that is even more true when you travel, no matter how near or far your travels may take you.
So what are the benefits of travel for homeschooling families, and how can you get the most out of your travels?
Choose Your Destination Based on Your Curriculum
If you have the luxury, choose a destination that makes sense for your children’s current educational goals. What are they learning in history this year or in the next few years? Do you have a focus on pre-Civil War American history? Then maybe a trip to influential cities in the Northeast is in order, such as Philadelphia and Boston. Does your oldest have a penchant for the inner workings of government? Washington, D.C., is a great family destination with plenty of budget-friendly activities.
Use Mindful Planning to Find Educational Activities
If you don’t have the luxury of choosing your destination (after all, sometimes you have to take those trips to see the extended family in Kansas City, or maybe you’re just making the most of your husband’s work trip to New Jersey and extending his conference into a family vacation), you can still create an educationally beneficial experience with a little bit of mindful planning.
Every destination has something to offer your kids, whether it’s a unique museum, historic site, or nature reserve. Travel offers so many activities that you can incorporate into your curriculum regardless of where you are.
Watch Those Social Skills Blossom
Many of those who have a few (or more) criticisms regarding the homeschooling lifestyle will bring up social skills at one point or another. While those of us who have lived it know better, we also know that you do have to make an effort to ensure your children get the right social interactions to thrive, whether that be through homeschooling co-ops, church, community activities, or other resources. However, sometimes, like it or not, this does still have its drawbacks, and your children might be socializing with a lot of people who are, in many ways, just like them.
Travel introduces your children to so many people, though, who are entirely different in class, race, culture, social status, or religion. When you’re on the road, encourage your children to interact, talk, and ask questions. Strike up a conversation with other kids on the train. Go ahead and ask the museum director your questions rather than waiting to look it up when you get home. Let them make their own purchases at the street market. Increase their confidence in addressing the unknown and unfamiliar.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Every child learns differently, and you probably figured this out very quickly when you started teaching your second child. While it can sometimes be a jarring and panic-inducing discovery at first, you’re likely used to it by now and have learned to adapt and cater to your children’s differing needs. Because of the flexibility of travel, it allows for everyone’s learning needs to be met.
Maybe one child needs to get a hands-on experience with a location for that geography and social studies lesson to really click. Maybe another just won’t get that chapter in the textbook until a local expert explains the same concept while giving a tour. Travel allows you to see the world in many different ways through so many different mediums that you never know just what concept you’ve covered weeks or months ago that might just make sense after you hit the road. This is why it’s so important to incorporate a range of activities in your itinerary!
The Unbreakable Bond
With the busyness of life — the classes, the lesson plans, the chores, the extra-curricular activities — it can be difficult to lose sight of the why behind what you’re doing. After all, you didn’t just wake up one day and decide to homeschool for the fun of it. You wanted to give your children an experience that the public or private school systems just couldn’t, for one reason or another. You cared enough about your children to make a huge sacrifice of time, effort, (and sometimes sanity!) to do what’s best for them. You love them passionately, deeply, more than anything in the world.
There’s not a family trip I go on that I don’t return feeling closer and more in love with my family. Travel, and the challenges and joys found therein, builds a deeper bond between travelers. As a homeschooling family, those bonds mean so much, and travel can only make them stronger. If you just aim to get one benefit out of traveling as a homeschooling family, this is the one to put first.
What’s your family’s main reason for traveling as part of your homeschool? If you don’t yet travel as part of your homeschool, we hope you’ll join us on one of our HEART trips!