Some people call me crazy…some people ask me how we do it…it is called roadschooling. It’s the concept of homeschooling while traveling on the road. There really is no secret. It simply takes a willing heart, some good old-fashioned support (my husband is my constant supply) and a whole lot of flexibility.
Anyone who has ever researched homeschooling knows that there are a bazillion different ways to do it. Well, the same is true for roadschooling. What works for me, may or may not work for you. However, I do know that information is as vital to success as practice is. My kids would never have mastered their math facts if they had not received the information or been given instruction on how to memorize it. When I decided to homeschool from the road, I took the same approach that I did when I began to homeschool my kids two years prior…I researched. I often tell friends, I don’t know if I would be doing this without the support of the internet. Between Instagram, Pinterest and Google…I can find everything that I need. The problem however is time….I don’t always have an abundance of time…and well, research takes plenty of time.
When I began to research full time RV living, my husband and I both made the same observation: dozens of families had created blogs and websites and began journaling their adventure….yet, very few continue to post and write after their first year. This made it challenging to learn from their wisdom and gain insight when we were just starting out.
Thankfully now there is a new wave of traveling bloggers who consistently write…but it can be hard to find them. There are some great resources out there, but there is never enough. I want to throw my two cents out there…for anyone who might be searching for options…because I certainly appreciated every single piece of “fulltiming” advice that I found when we were searching for it in the beginning.
After two years on the road, I know what works for my family and what does not.
Here are some of the key components in our roadschool journey (in no particular order):
For a family that lives on the road, geography becomes as important…and fascinating…as math or reading. Prior to launching from California in 2015, we had been part of a Classical Conversations community where my love for classical education and mapping began. Through our travels, we have all come to understand the importance of reading my Google Maps app, as well as the good-old print maps that we pick up from AAA…both are a must and one cannot replace the other.
There is a common understanding in our home: we must all learn the geography of this country…and of the world. I will say that the most utilized non-electronic/non-book tool in our rolling classroom and home is our $6 map of The United States that is mounted across from our couch (purchased from Target). It really is quite nice, especially for the cost. We plan our trips with it…we use it for discussion in almost every subject of school…as a reference when researching genealogy…my kids can track where Daddy travels for work…he plans his business trips with it…we locate National Parks on the map…discussing history….I could go on and on. We placed our map at sitting level so that we can sit around it, touch it, point to it and read it up close. It sits on the backside of our kitchen island so we can use it from the couch or sit around it on the floor.
Incorporating geography into our life daily, gives structure and understanding to current events, ancient history and world events, in history and science. It is a vital component of our homeschool.
We all love books. We love the feel of holding the book and prefer not to read from a device…even the kids. To make this work, we have had to find creative solutions to the weight-limit issues of living in a fifth wheel. With books for all three of the kids, my husband (an avid reader), my homeschooling essentials, and our math text books….this adds up to a lot of books!
What we do is typically purchase used books and then donate them along the way. This actually works better than you might think. I intentionally seek out very large used bookstores and thrift shops in my travels…places where I can find quality books for 25¢ to $4.
When we finish the books, I donate them along the road…either leaving them in the book exchange library at a campground or I donate them to whatever thrift store and charities we find along the road. We do keep a collection of favorites and we have been known to ship a box of “must keeps” to grandma to store at her house, as my kids can’t part with certain books that they find on the road.
So keep your eyes open for books…whether you are at one of the campgrounds where we have left our treasures, or driving through a random place like Las Cruces, New Mexico (the gold mine of used books….we found the most amazing selection of books for kids and young adults there).
More commonly known as Switched On Schoolhouse, which is created by Alpha Omega Publishing. This is a computer-based curriculum for students in grades 3-12. My kids are each doing at least 4 subjects with SOS this year.
No curriculum is perfect, but these products do a fantastic job of meeting our needs on the road. It is a Christian-bassed curriculum. We download the software on a computer for each child. The program does not require an internet signal. The software automatically grades most of the work for the teacher, leaving me only with a portion of the grading. We back-up our work on a thumb-drive and it keeps all the records for me….so, it is paperless!
SOS also includes some really fun science experiments. We opt to do the experiments (rather than watch videos of other people doing them whenever possible) and this year I ordered a complete science kit for the kids. The kit includes all of the supplies needed for each level of science. You can click HERE to visit the Home Science Tools website and see what they offer and how it supports the SOS program.
For information on Switched On Schoolhouse, click HERE to visit their website.
Classical Conversations Memory Work
As I mentioned earlier…prior to traveling fulltime, we were rooted in a local CC Community in California. Though we cannot bring the community with us on the road, we can bring our memory work!
Classical Conversations is a community built on the ideals of classical education, primarily the knowledge and understanding of grammar, logic and rhetoric. I will admit, this has been hard for me to continue on the road while traveling. I have found endless blessing and value though in the rote memorization of our “memory work” (basically pursuing the grammar stage of education).
The CC program is structured around the memorization of basic grammar in each subject. The strategy is brilliant and it works!
We continue to memorize major historical facts, theory’s and definitions as a family…at our own pace. We have practiced our memory work in a variety of ways, but now on the road, it is mostly done by oral repetition, listening to audio files and singing along. It is amazing to hear my kids recite facts that we learned four years ago.
If you are not part of a CC community, you could pursue obtaining a Classical Conversations Foundation Guide or read Leigh Bortins’ book The Core, to further investigate this philosophy of study.
Old-School Math Text
There are so many options for math curriculum out there and every family seems to like a different one. I have chosen to stick with a traditional math textbook rather than a digital version or a series of workbooks. The more I read about education, the more it affirms this decision for my children.
Math is the backbone to so many areas of study and I want my young students to thrive at it as much as possible. My goal for our kids is that they will soar in the knowledge of their math facts…and I don’t just mean multiplication tables. I want them to memorize and understand operations, so that as they promote into higher math, they have the confidence to work the problems.
I find that doing math with a pencil and paper…and being able to flip through the textbook for reference…allows for a higher level of success with my kids (rather than doing a computer program).
We are on our fourth year of using Saxon Math. I love that it is cyclical. On any given week, at least two of my three children are learning…or repeating the same math lesson, just at a different levels…even in Algebra. This means that they will encounter the same operations and properties over an over again throughout the years and eventually, they will master it. Saxon is a bit more laborious from what I hear…compared to other texts, but it has served us well and my kids are gaining a really solid grasp on math. It’s not real fancy, it is actually quite basic.
We also enjoy practicing math with fun activities on Khan Academy as well, which is a great place when we need help with a particular topic.
During our first year on the road we discovered Reading Roadschoolers Typing Club. It has been a huge blessing for us. My oldest has greatly increased her typing speed, my center child has learned to type efficiently and now my youngest is starting to excel as well.
This is a free, online typing program created for roadschoolers. It teaches the child how to type, shows finger placement and promotes accuracy and speed. I believe a fellow road schooling mom created it for her kids and many Full-time Families use it as well. If you are interested in participating, you may contact me via email for more information.
Music in our home simply cracks me up. We have two adults who love music and who are seeking to raise children whom: love music, can read music and who can each play an instrument. Funny, right? We currently have a teen on the keyboard, a 12 year old on the guitar and an almost 11 year old on the violin. At the moment we are utilizing random YouTube lessons for guidance. I am currently on the hunt though for some effective, engaging and affordable online lessons…especially for the violin. I would love to add a bit more structure to this area of our school. I will say, the violin is the hardest one. It will be super cool when I have a rockstar on the fiddle…but until then…it is a bit crazy!
Junior Ranger Programs
I love our National Parks and I love the Park Rangers. We have yet to meet a fantastic Ranger. These activities are almost always free and they are packed full of educational information. It is so encouraging to see my two two younger kids get excited about earning a Junior Ranger badge. Almost all National Parks and Monuments have this program. We typically start our National Park visit with a stop at the Visitor Center, pick up our JR books and then head out to explore. The kids will work on their books while we are exploring…either while driving or when we stop to take breaks on the hiking trail. When they are complete, we turn them in to the Ranger and the kids receive their JR badge….and they always learn something new and interesting from either the book or the Ranger.
This is how we do it…
Well, there you have it. A small summary of how we roadschool. If you have questions about any of our resources, please let me know. I am more than happy to pass on whatever information I have found.