Homeschooling is NOT “school at home” & Road- schooling is NOT “school on the road”.
This may sound confusing - what do I mean by this?
Homeschooling and road-schooling are a new type of education and they do not fit into the traditional, unified box of “school” - one where backpacks are packed, lunchboxes are boxed, and recess time is the same time each day. The beauty of schooling-on-the-go is having the flexibility to follow your child’s individual needs and cater to their learning style as well as your family lifestyle.
Where To Start?
This is the biggest question with families that are just starting to consider schooling their children at home, on the road, or abroad. The best place to start is looking at your state homeschooling laws and getting to know the rules, regulations, and options that your particular state provides. You should choose the state that you pay taxes in (this can be confusing for full time nomads). Each state is different; for instance, Nevada requires a letter of intent prior to age 7 years old or after taking your child out of school, but South Carolina has an option for joining a homeschool association for accountability. Find out the following:
What age am I required to enroll my child? Most states do not need proof of home education until 7 years old.
Do I need to do state testing quarterly, monthly, yearly, or not at all?
Are there options to enroll with a charter school for extra funding? California and a few other states/districts allow home education through a charter school and you are able to receive a yearly stipend for each child’s education. This does come with the trade-off of having to check in monthly with a teacher so it depends on what works best for your family and how much involvement you want.
How do I enroll my child? There should be clear instructions with that link above, or you can call your local school district office for further clarification.
How do I teach my child?
Okay, you have the state laws figured out, now you need to figure out your teaching plan. Before starting each year of school with my children I think through these bullet points:
What are the national and state standards for their grade level? In all honesty, they have usually surpassed these standards before starting the grade, and it reassures me that we are on track while also letting me know which areas I need to focus on.
What are their current interests? For example, my daughter is very interested in horses at the moment so we will be doing the Beautiful Feet History of the Horse Pack.
How do my children learn best? One is all about rules and memorization, the other is all about hands-on, tactile learning. My eldest does Teaching Textbooks for math and my youngest will be starting Math-U-See to cater to her learning needs. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to learn - but do not fall into the trap of thinking that everyone learns the same, what might have worked wonderfully for one home school mom might fail miserably in your household. That’s okay, the first year is all about learning with your child and a trial-and-error of different techniques.
The bullet points above will give you a basis for choosing lesson plans and curriculum for the year. Some families prefer to have a bundled curriculum and others prefer to pick-and-choose different curriculum. The greatest benefit to picking and choosing is that you can base it on your child’s learning level and cater it to their interests. Maybe your kid is a little ahead in math, you can jump to another grade level, but maybe they need some extra time with spelling so you can stick with the previous grade level - the choice is all yours! Once you start researching all the different programs, styles, and resources it is easy to feel VERY overwhelmed and conflicted. When picking the right learning resources do NOT over-curriculum !!! Burying yourself and your child in work will be frustrating for both of you. Here are some good things to remember:
Start with the basics : math, english, science, social studies. You can always add-on once you get into the groove :
It can be easy to get carried away with all the amazing options - music lessons, STEM boxes, second-language, dancing classes, ect. Once you get into a routine with the basics you will have more of an idea of time commitment and how much more you can handle. Incorporate a new lesson or an extracurricular activity when you and your child are ready.
Play is the best teacher, joy is the best way to teach.
Make learning fun! There is no need to sit in a desk or color with boring crayons. Get up, get moving, and have fun together. Your child will learn more through playing games than doing worksheets. When either you or your child gets frustrated - STOP and take a break. Walk away and do something different.
Subjects do not need to be SEPARATED.
In traditional school you have a “math teacher” and a “social studies class” but homeschooling is one-big-happy-family of subjects and the teacher (you) wears many hats. Combining lessons can make it more practical to real-life.
So now you are all organized with how to set up the school year (a clear mindset is key)… but how do you do all of this while traveling?
National and state resources
Each national park (and some state parks) have junior ranger programs that are educational and fun. They get your kids exploring and learning in nature, and teach about the local animals and habitats. They also have packets that your child can work on at-home and mail in for badges. The badges and pledge are an exciting incentive for everyone!
Geography on the go !
Purchase a world map or activity book that allows your child to follow-along with the road trip. Oh, we just passed through Texas, what state are we in now? Learn a few facts about that state (capital, flower, look for license plates, ect) and what states border it.
This might be the trickiest part of homeschooling on the road. Minimal space for storing all those great books and art materials. Keep it simple and lightweight. Do not shy away from using video and online learning resources, here are a few ways to outsource to the internet without losing quality of education:
The Libby app is a GREAT resource for library books sent to kindle or ipad as well as audiobooks for the long drive days.
Teaching Textbooks is an online math program that records progress and grades. A math lesson each day online is very convenient and user-friendly.
Typesy is a great typing program that allows multiple students under one account.
National Geographic Kids has online subscriptions for magazines.
Art for Kids Hub is a little drawing class subscription setup by a dad for his kids.
The Brave Writer program offers online classes as well as PDF downloads for their lessons.
Join the Wild Explorers Club to earn badges and unite with other wild explorers.
Start a journal so that your child can write about all the exciting adventures!
This will be fun for everyone to look back on. If it is a personal journal, try not to correct their spelling, grammar in the journal - allow for creative writing and draw some spelling words for the week based on the trouble areas you see in the journal. This is a great way to gauge progress.
Most everything has a dual purpose when living tiny - the same goes for educational materials. Most all of the toys and games we keep are learning resources. Remember, kids learn best through playing! Learn animal tracks with a matching game, use the legos to create letters, play-dough for anatomy models or number molding, math incorporated in most all card games (we love sushi-go), and all these bingo games are great!
You are learning alongside your child!
This is not a one-way street. You need to let go of how you were taught and how school looked for you as a child. Redefine education and lead your child down a new path where learning is interactive, fun, and unique to them! Join homeschool co-ops, sign up for Wild and Free Conferences, reach out to fellow home-educators for support and reassurance! You got this!