The Top 4 Tips to Get You Started on Roadschooling
We currently have 79 days until our next roadschool adventure! That may sound like a considerable amount of time, but in reality, we have a lot to get accomplished before we hit the road. We need to choose our destinations, find the best route, book our hotels and construct some sort of curriculum before we leave. After years of taking our homeschooling to the road, we have it down to somewhat of a science. Here are our must-do’s before our thousands of miles of adventure begin.
1. Where should we go?
The first thing we need to nail down, is where we want to go. We often plan our roadtrips based on what we have been studying in school and what the kid’s biggest interests are at the time. Last year, the kids enjoyed the hype surrounding Area 51 so, aliens and UFOs were high on their list of interests (admittingly ours as well). We planned a day in Roswell, NM and visited the International UFO Museum and Research Center along with many stops throughout town for photo ops. On the way to Roswell, you can cut off and drive through the Painted Desert in Arizona, so this was perfect for our classic earth sciences stop and seeing another section of Route 66. You don’t always have to plan every detail or stop, but sometimes you realize there is a gold mine of educational wonder surrounding your main point of interest.
2. What route will you take?
Now, we need to figure out how quickly or slowly we want to move about the country. What route do we want to take and what stops fit in with our scheduled activities? We try our best not to drive too much at night, so if we have a full day of exploring, we will drive no more than 2 hours to our rest stop after. Since we are on a budget, we never plan to stay in expensive cities. We often find amazing hotels right outside the city which also allows us to get a head start in the morning and not have to deal with rush hour. Depending where you go, staying off the main interstates and freeways may actually save you some travel time, and you could stumble upon some pretty great finds.
3. How can I incorporate curriculum without ruining natural learning?
This is the tricky part. You don’t want to bombard your children with too many worksheets or assignments because it can lead away from their natural thinking process and unique questions they may have. Remember when you were in school and your class attended a fieldtrip? Your teacher had you complete a small workbook while you were there, but you wanted nothing more than to just explore. It was as if they were guiding you to ask certain questions or think a certain way. This isn’t always a bad thing, but I want learning to happen organically. I know that as humans we remember more when we are in control of our own thought processes. I want my children to ask the questions that pique their interest and not ones that are only asked to tick off a box in a program of study. You can learn more about how we personally incorporate curriculum and unit studies into our travels HERE.
4. What fun things can I pack to entertain?
We are totally the odd ones out, but we rarely use any tablet devices or phones for entertainment. Unless you of course count the numerous times Nathan uses his phone to snap pictures of me sleeping with my mouth wide open. The kids only get to use them after dark or on long, boring stretches. This leaves hours upon hours of potential “are we there yet?” or “I’m bored” to have to plan for, and this mama ain’t got time for that. My favorite way to keep the kids entertained, is my very own “state line surprise bags.” For every state line we cross, they get a different bag of small activities, (fun!) learning worksheets and creative play toys. I try my best to include activities that help with manual dexterity and fine motor skills, while keeping things interesting for my son who gets car sick. My daughter could literally read for hours (she read the entire first Harry Potter book in a 3 hour trip to see my inlaws), so finding some new and exciting chapter books is the easy part. For my son, I try to have activities that don’t include much reading or a ton of eye movement, so I’ve found coloring pages, matching games and stickers to be the perfect mix for him (some really beautiful matching games can be found here). The most important part of entertaining while on the road, is to always have several “extra” backup options ready to go in case you find yourselves driving through the entire state of Kansas. Yes, that has happened!
Once you have completed these primary steps, you will be well on your way to your roadschool adventure!