Roadschooling is giving your child a homeschool education enhanced through, or focused around, extensive travel. It is the act of intentionally turning your destinations into learning opportunities.
Best of all, you don’t need to be a trained teacher. You just need to look for opportunities and allow other professionals to help guide the experience.
For those of us living full-time on the road, roadschooling tends to be an ingrained part of our everyday lives. It is the accepted definition for those of us traveling in our own country, while world schooling is used for those traveling the globe to give their children the same experience on a global level.
Educational travel gives us unlimited opportunities for our students to learn about the unique flora and fauna of different regions, to experience cultural differences that cannot be fully grasped or understood from book learning alone, and to get a firm view of where and how our nation’s history played out from visiting the actual locations of where events occurred. Roadschooling is more than textbooks, and is almost always hands-on.
Roadschooling can be something that just happens when you give your children the tools (and destinations) to learn for themselves, or it can be a very purposeful act. Just like homeschooling looks different for every family, so does roadschooling.
To get the most out of our roadschooling experience, we utilize the unique destinations, experiences, and activities that are available wherever we are currently visiting. Here are some of the resources that we use frequently:
America’s national parks are incredible treasures, and we have yet to visit a national park that does not lend itself extensively to teachable moments! National parks are located at historical sites, areas with unique natural and geological features, or to highlight areas with strong cultural flavors. The National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program is usually free, and is geared toward children ages 6 to 12, but available for all ages.
The program includes location specific workbooks that the students fills out while learning about the park and it’s history. Upon completion, the kids will take their work to a ranger to check, then receive a Junior Ranger badge. Badges are location specific, and make great souvenirs!
For us, this means mainly science museums, but there are numerous and varied museums out there that provide ample opportunities for academic advancement. For younger students, children’s museums often offer great hands-on educational experiences in math, science, and social studies. All ages will find science museums fascinating. There are also museums specializing in art, history, cities, cultures, maritime, even religious museums, as well as nature centers. With four tween and teen boys, our current favorite is air museums.
Exceptionally entertaining, tours at factories, food venues (candy factories, our favorite!), sports compounds, farms, space centers, shoe factories, mines, dams, or toys are always a hit with our scholars. Taking a guided tour of an ice cream factory, complete with taste testing, is a great way to really comprehend what it takes to put products on the shelves.
Locations like battlefields, reenactment villages, and museums based around a historic event provide rich learning opportunities. These can be extra fun, and exceptionally educational — especially if you center them around a theme, such as Civil War battlefields, the Oregon Trail, or Lewis and Clark’s Expedition.
Zoos and Aquariums
While both zoos and aquariums are enjoyable simply as a fun day trip, they also have the potential to be fabulous sources for spurring delight-directed learning. Our favorites for this are not the largest, most popular zoos and aquariums, but the locations that focus on local wildlife and sea life as they generally tend to be more educational-directed in their exhibits and displays.
Location specific learning experiences
These are one of our very favorite experiences. From asking the deli counter staff about foods unique to the area, to hitting up the visitor’s center volunteers about the best place to learn about the local wildlife, we have found that the cream-of-the-crop roadschooling destinations are not necessarily the stops that are advertised the most. Visit local artisans. Tour the nearby state parks and stop by their visitor’s centers. Look for farm-related experiences. Find out what the local foods are.
Our favorite roadschool “foodie” experience thus far has been southern Louisiana where we tried head cheese, learned that yes, someone does actually makes sausage from nutria (think big water rat), and sucked crawfish heads; to this day, Cajun cooking is often requested in our RV!
No matter if your roadschooling is all encompassing, or a supplement to traditional textbook learning, learning on-site, while traveling, is sure to give your children a greater understanding of our nation and its history.
Keep checking back for followup posts on some of the best opportunities in each category, and how to get the most from your visits there! Or just sign up for a free Let’s RV subscription so that you won’t miss an article. To subscribe, click here or send an e-mail to email@example.com.