Roadschooling is something that is so intriguing to me. The hubsterdude and I have always been travelers, and because of this we have created three mini travelers as well. Being on the road is so enjoyable for us that my oldest once told me she liked the driving part more than the destination sometimes. Having kids who love to travel as much as we do has made life so much more interesting and enjoyable.
When I learned from my friend Jen over at The Learning Wagon that roadschooling was a thing, I immediately messaged her and started picking her brain about it. Now, it’s become a sort of dream of mine – to travel full time, see the country (perhaps the world?), and give my girls the ultimate education by letting them experience things and not just read about them in books. I asked Jen to share a little with you today about roadschooling, making her my very first guest speaker. Keep reading as she tells you all about her adventures in roadschooling.
Our children have grown up literally on the road. I always wanted to homeschool my own children and that’s what I do except we travel frequently. We’ve made our “home” on the “road,” so we call it roadschooling. Beyond that, the biggest difference between homeschooling and roadschooling is that our travels guide our learning and our interests direct our travels.
Coming from a traditional public school teaching background, I had expected that I would be teaching my children in much the same way that I did in the classroom, but roadschooling has changed my philosophy of teaching. For us, roadschooling is all about learning and experiencing our world as we travel around the country.
Our learning can be categorized into three types:
- Life Learning
- Planned Learning
- Experience Learning
I consider Life Learning to be learning tasks that must be done to take care of ourselves and our families on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. These experiences include cooking, cleaning, learning a skill (like sewing your own clothes), how to check the mail, how to shop for groceries, social skills, how to care for pets, and other such “Life” skills. My children are 4 and 2 years old. I try to give them opportunities on a daily basis to practice a variety of these tasks at their level. Some examples include…
Doing Laundry: My children wheel our laundry to the laundromat in our wagon. They help me put clothes in the washers and choose quarters out of a jar of mixed coins to put into the machines. Later, they help me switch the laundry to the dryers and add more money. My little helpers place the clothes back into the basket inside the wagon and pull it back home where they hand it to me to fold. In time, I plan to teach them how to fold and put away their own clothes.
Kitchen Skills: My children are learning to make their own sandwiches, peel their own fruit, open containers, pour their own drink, help in the cooking process, and wash dishes. They absolutely love this time and beg to do it. I’ll admit this is the most difficult area for me to let them do things on their own because it’s much easier, faster, and less messy for me to do it for them, but I force myself to give them the opportunity to do something new for themselves every day.
Social Skills: Yes… We do know what these are! Overall, we’ve found the people in the RV parks we’ve visited to be friendly. We often take walks or ride our bikes around the parks. We practice a variety of social skills on a daily basis while we are out and about. I teach my children to wave and smile at people as we pass by, they are learning to greet people and answer their questions politely if they stop and talk to us. Moving from park to park means that they have to practice meeting new people and introducing themselves frequently.
Safety: This is a big issue, especially when we’re frequently in unfamiliar locations and around unfamiliar people. While I’ve never felt we were in dangerous surroundings, because we research the areas we stay in before we make reservations… you never know. We teach safety rules like never open the door (only Mommy & Daddy are allowed to open the door for others). We teach them safe areas to play and to stay out of the street. We frequently ride our bikes as a family, so we teach them to always ride on the right side of the road, how to watch for cars, and to ring their bells while going around turns.
As my children mature, I will allow them to do more and more of what we do as adults on a daily basis. I want to teach them skills like sewing and crocheting, building furniture pieces, fixing mechanics that break, balancing a checkbook and maintaining a budget. My goal is for them to learn how to do as much as they can for themselves and know how to find help for what they don’t know. Too often, WE do for our children out of love and then dump an overwhelming amount of responsibility on them as young adults. If we give our children bits of responsibility to practice at a time, they will be more prepared to handle the responsibilities that come with being an adult.
Planned Learning is more of the school type learning. It’s the experiences I plan with a specific learning goal in mind. You can learn more about our daily schooling experiences by reading about “Our Roadschooling Week.” Even though this schooling time is more traditional, the learning is heavily based on doing, problem solving, and experimenting.
This is where learning comes to life…
You can read books about the Statue of Liberty. You can make lap books about the Statue of Liberty. You can create a model of the Statue of Liberty. You can complete worksheets or even write an essay about the Statue of Liberty and these are all great ways for your students to learn about one of our country’s freedom symbols, but there’s nothing like experiencing the Statue of Liberty first-hand. Nothing!
Roadschooling allowed us to travel to New York so we could see the Statue of Liberty the same way the first immigrants did, climb the steps, visit the museums, and experience the feeling of freedom she exudes. Okay… my kids are a wee bit young to really grasp the awesomeness that we experienced this day. After reading books about the Statue of Liberty for weeks before hand, they did enjoy their experience. They even still talk about it today, but honestly roadschooling is just as beneficial for the parents as it is for the kids and I promise… We will be going back! Check out our awesome experience visiting the Statue of Liberty!
By traveling, our children have the benefit of learning through first-hand experiences all across the country! We can both allow our children’s interests to drive the direction of the experiences we choose and we can inspire new interests through the places we visit and things we see.
How did we start Roadschooling?
When we lived in the suburbs, I was a kindergarten teacher and my husband owned his own business teaching CPR to individuals and corporate clients. We lived on a quarter of an acre and enjoyed a little hobby farm right in our subdivision backyard with a large garden plot and composting area, a goat pin, and two chicken pins. There was still plenty of room in our fenced in backyard for our two dogs to run around. Our neighbors, who initially thought we were crazy, began asking us how they could raise chickens in their backyards too. One thing led to another and long story short, my husband became known as the Chicken Whisperer. For the last seven years, his sponsors have been sending him around the country to do what he does best, teach others how to raise chickens in their backyard.
My husband and I always travel together. We made a pact before we got married that we would never spend a night apart. Initially, we would either fly or drive from city to city and spend the night in hotels. After our first child came along, wheeling a hotel cart filled to the brim in one day and back out the next over and over again became cumbersome, so we purchased our first camper, a 24’ Coachmen travel trailer with no slides. Packing the camper one time and sleeping in the same bed, our own bed, every night made life a lot better for us. We enjoyed traveling so much that when we were finished with work travel, we began our own adventures. Over time, we started spending more time in our camper than we did at our home. This year, we purchased a bigger camper, a 36’ Jayco travel trailer with 3 slides and our house is up for sale.
This is our story and our journey. There are thousands of full-time RVing families and more and more people are joining this community. Each family has their own story to tell about how they began roadschooling. Some families planned to move out of sticks-and-bricks living for years, while others jumped in feet first. We got started because of my husband’s job, but eased into the full-time RVing lifestyle over the last three years. There are many families, like us, that travel so they don’t have to be apart from their working loved one. The tiny house movement and living debt free are the driving force for some families who decide to live full-time on the road. While other families just love to travel and want to share the educational experiences that go along with traveling with their children. Whatever the motivation may be to live a nomadic lifestyle and teach your children on the road, the end result is amazing memories.
We’ve lived this life for 3 years now and I won’t claim that it doesn’t come with hardships, because there are many obstacles to overcome. For one, vehicles have weight limits. The weight of books, toys, crafting materials, clothes, electronics, and other things add up quickly. Space is limited. You give up some things to make room for others.
I won’t say that it doesn’t get expensive, because fuel costs money, staying in RV parks costs money, visiting attractions costs money. There are ways to cut costs and manage on a budget, but that takes work as well.
I won’t say that every adventure makes a good memory, because plans fail and life happens.
I won’t say you won’t get on each other’s nerves, because your personal space is barely existent.
When you purge down to your necessities, you’re freed from the burden of an overabundance of stuff to focus on the really important things in life.
When you focus on what you have versus what you don’t have, you’re more aware of how rich you are to be near the ones you love the most.
When things don’t go as you planned, you start over again knowing there’s a lesson learned in every adventure.
When you’re forced to be close physically, through trials, love, and forgiveness, you learn to be closer emotionally.
These are the things that make roadschooling and life on the road with our family worth it all.
If you’re interested in learning more about roadschooling, you can read, What is Roadschooling. I’m Jen Schneider, and I’d be happy to answer any of your questions. You can find leave a comment at The RV Classroom, on Facebook, or Twitter.
God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~