Travel and homeschooling are a match made in heaven! Less-is-more is the key to success. Set reasonable goals and focus on exploration and your family will have an awesome experience.
I don’t want homeschooling to ever be the reason you hold back from taking a trip. EVER! Fear of falling behind your schedule or your kids suddenly forgetting everything you’ve taught them or that you won’t have space for your whole curriculum are not reasons to miss out on adventure. If you can arrange your circumstances and budget to take a trip, I want you to be confident that you can absolutely arrange your learning to work on a trip as well.
Before leaving for our road trip down south I had plenty of planning work to do. Beyond the obvious stuff that a family of four (and a 70# golden retriever) needs for three weeks away from home (clothes, food and in our case must-have kitchen equipment) I’ve also been planning for our family learning while we’re away.
Tim and I love planning. (Like, we plan things we’ll never actually do just because it’s fun. Call it exercising our imaginations…) We also love looking back over previous plans to see what worked and what didn’t. We enjoy improving upon plans, implementing the changes and reveling in little successes.
Weird? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.
After completing my planning and packing I decided to look back and see how my planning for this trip compared with what I did for our trip out west. (That whole improving/implementing/reveling thing.) Back in September I wrote “My 10 Must-Haves for Homeschooling on the Road.” Admittedly, I made that list based on conjecture. I imagined what learning would be like on the road and which resources were worth taking up precious cargo space (and with airline weight limits, I really had to be careful!) and then planned accordingly. It was fascinating to look back at that list. Honestly, I couldn’t even remember what was on it. (Seriously, I have written SO many articles since then!)
As I read through my Must-Haves, I was mentally ticking off the boxes of which ones I had already packed into our school bin.
“Kindle? Yep, got ’em both. Tablets loaded with audio books? Check. Headphones? Uh, yeah, like 5 or six pairs of varying type and quality. Colored pencils? Two sets, freshly sharpened along with my pencil sharpeners. Nature journals? You bet. Binoculars? Mmm hmm. Magnifying glass? Yessir. Paper? An entire ream! Clipboard? One per kiddo. Homeschool planner? While it’s a different animal than the one I used in years previous, I have my current incarnation all packed up.”
Crazy — I love when well-thought out plans actually work! Each of those ten items made it onto the list for this trip too. I made only a few small changes to my packing list of learning resources. And these were mainly due to the fact that we’re driving the entire trip. I didn’t have to worry about airline weight limits, so I could throw a few more fun things into the mix. (Can you hear the heavenly chorus? I can!)
I brought along a few books that we’ve been reading for school that I have only in hard copy. (Several of these are books that are just plain fun and not necessary at all, really.) I also tossed a few small games into the mix (Banagrams, Go Find It!, and my Sibley’s Bird cards), along with our watercolor palettes. Even with these additions, all of our school supplies fit into a bin measuring roughly 20″x14″x10″. It’s fantastic!
Everything we need for learning and educational entertainment fits in one compact bin. Between this bin, wifi connection on occasion, nature exploration and maybe hanging out at the local library (because, books!) we’ve got our learning for the next three weeks covered. And seriously, it took me about 20 minutes total to plan what I wanted to bring, locate the stuff, and pack it all up neatly.
Why am I sharing all this with you? Again, I want you to be confident that you can successfully take your homeschool on the road. Both practically and fundamentally, the idea is sound.
Practically speaking, space is your biggest limitation. But it’s a limitation with a solution. If you haven’t yet, check out my post on my 10 Must-Haves to get an idea of what kinds of resources have a wonderful size-to-educational-value ratio. If you’re traveling by air, you can pare down your resources to a single adult-sized backpack. If you’re traveling by car, one medium-sized bin can handle your supplies. In both instances, most of these resources are being used for multiple kiddos, so even if you have a crew bigger than ours, much of it can be shared. Totally doable!
Educationally speaking, travel also has tremendous value. Even if you set aside your entire curriculum (assuming you use one), your learning will continue, for sure. If you can mentally approach learning-while-traveling as an educational detour instead of a traffic jam you’ll understand that your family will still be making progress, even if it’s in a slightly different direction. It’s just a matter of being flexible and adjusting to your new circumstances.
Tim has been writing about what our plans look like for our trip, what interesting learning possibilities we’re looking forward to as we travel, and how we adjust our expectations and goals both for parenting and learning while away from home. I encourage you to read his posts — they’re definitely useful tools to help you put together a travel-friendly learning plan for your family.
His posts will get you thinking about how to take your at-home parenting and learning goals on the road successfully. Your approach will no doubt be different than ours, but I’m confident that you’ll find the way that works for you. With a little forethought and intentional planning, you can take your homeschool on the road and have a valuable, enjoyable and memorable traveling experience with your family.