Homeschooling On The Road
Both Casen (7) and Calista (6) were in public school when we decided to hit the road full time. Casen was in second grade and Calista was in kindergarten. They LOVED their school and their teachers, and we had nothing but positive things to say about their public school experience. However, when we made the decision to move into an RV and start traveling full time, we realized that meant we would need to become a home school family… which we call “road schooling” since we do it on the road!
I was a little intimidated, because I felt like the kids had such great teachers and so many wonderful opportunities in their school. They learned SO many things and had SO many friends at school. Art projects, science experiments… how would I be able to replicate everything they were getting at school??
I’ve come to the realization that I CAN’T duplicate the experience they were getting in public school. Their school life is DRASTICALLY different than it used to be.
Is it better now? Is it worse? I have no idea! I just know it’s different.
I do my best and try to provide them with the best education I can. The hardest part for them in changing lifestyles was leaving their school behind. They do appreciate the flexibility that road schooling allows though! Im sure homeschooling looks different for every family. I’ve been asked many times how WE do it, so I’m going to share with you what it looks like for our family!
How We Homeschool
On The Road
WE HAVE NO SCHEDULE.
I used to be a very scheduled person, so this has taken some getting used to. We don’t travel on a consistent schedule, our jobs aren’t consistent, our days are never consistent, therefore our school work is built around where we are that day and what we’re doing. This can be challenging but it keeps things interesting!
Preparing for homeschooling before we hit the road
We didn’t! At least, not as much as we would have liked to. When we left our sticks and bricks home, I had no concrete plan of what road schooling would look like! I had written down some some websites and curriculums people had recommended, and I had STACKS of workbooks that friends and family had given us. We had been working so hard getting rid of stuff and getting moved out of our house that school stuff had become somewhat of an afterthought! The kids were doing great in school though… Casen was in advanced math and reading and Calista was thriving in kindergarten. Knowing this helped me not stress about them falling behind as we figured out what we were going to do!
Our First Couple Weeks of Homeschooling in an RV
Our first week I used workbooks a lot. I started them out one grade level above their technical grade, since they had been doing advanced work at school, and this worked great for Casen. Calista, however, needed help reading a lot of the directions because she wasn’t a proficient reader yet. I wanted to them to be able to do things without needing me constantly, so I realized that teaching her to read at a higher level a priority.
Within the great assortment of workbooks we were given, we have quite a variety of types of exercises.
They’re great for practicing specific grade level skills.
They’re actually doing one of the third grade books together! It’s great because Casen reads it all to Calista and they take turns answering the questions. I have to keep an ear out when they’re doing that though, because Calista can become frustrated if she doesn’t understand something, and I’m quick to jump in and help. I don’t want her to get frustrated over third grade work when she’s only 6! There’s just so much of it she CAN do, I love challenging her with the work! (She loves it too).
Several people recommended the book “Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons” and I checked it out, loved all the positive reviews, and bought it from Amazon. It says that your child will be reading on a second grade level by the end of the book. This excited her more than it excited me… and I was pretty excited! She loves reading and the thought of reading like a second grader was super motivating for her. She couldn’t WAIT to get started. We are almost halfway done with the book and she’s still loving it! She looks forward doing it every day. If a day comes up that we don’t get to do it, we double up and do two lessons the next day.
For Casen’s reading, he reads a book to Calista each day to practice reading out loud. He also works on reading comprehension and grammar using workbooks.
Writing is something we do often. Calista is still working on consistently writing all letters correctly and neatly. She has a few sight-word workbooks that are great where she practices writing sight words and also making up sentences with the words. We have journals that we write in when we leave an area. I sit down with the kids and we brainstorm about some of their favorite things from that place. They make a list so they can remember what they want to write about, and then write a journal entry about it. They also draw a picture to go along with it.
They still ask me OFTEN how to spell words… I haven’t figured out if I should always tell them the correct way to spell things or if they should be sounding it out and doing their best…
We also are learning about using descriptive words and ways to make our writing more interesting. Calista is still working on consistently using capital letters when necessary and remembering punctuation marks. I’m hoping the more writing practice she has, the more she’ll remember! We write letters to friends sometimes too for writing practice…and to keep in touch with people “back home.”
For math, they both enjoy Kahan Academy online. It’s free and its really wonderful. I like it too, because it teaches you a math lesson, gives you practice problems, then tests you. If it recognizes that you’re having trouble with one type of problem it will recommend you watch or rewatch the lesson on that topic. We also have math workbooks we use. We do math every day. Both kids really like math. I ordered some flash cards from Amazon for time and money for Calista, and multiplication facts for both kids.
Teaching both kids together
I’ve realized that the more I can teach them together, the easier my job is! Teaching one subject at a time is easier than going back and forth and back and forth between kids doing different things. Calista is great at math, so they love doing math together and are doing great learning multiplication together. My kids are very competitive, so anything we can turn into a game, we do! With the multiplication facts, we play War. With the money flash cards, they add up the money and play War with those as well!
Book Recommendation for Full-Time Travelers
Since we knew we’d be traveling, we purchased an amazing book called “The 50 States” that we study before each new state we visit. We learn cool facts about each state and memorize state capitals as we go. The kids have really enjoyed the book and learning about the US. Being able to experience what you’re learning about in real life has been incredible!
Apps, Laptops, and all things tech
Spelling App: I found a great app for spelling called Squeebles Speeling Test that allows me to make my own spelling lists for the kids, and they can study the lists and then take tests independently. They really enjoy this and have done really well with spelling this way. They have a kindle they do this on.
Youtube: Whenever the kids have a question about something- and it can be anything really- we like to look it up on YouTube. By doing this, we found Mystery Doug. They LOVE Mystery Doug. It’s a fun way to learn a lot of things - mostly science related. Kids call up Doug and ask a question and he does a great job explaining the answers. Casen and Calista often reference Mystery Doug when they tell us about random facts they know! Just a few video topics of his are “How is glass made?” “Where do bugs go in winter” and “What is the coldest place on earth?”
National Park Service Junior Ranger Program
One really cool opportunity we’ve taken advantage of is the Junior Ranger Program through the National Park Service. At each National Park we go to, we stop by the visitors center or ranger station and ask for a Junior Ranger booklet when we first arrive. If we are only in the area for one day, we spend some time there, working on the booklets. A lot of times, you use displays or info in the station to fill out parts of the booklet. Some pages ask you to go on a hike in the park and look for certain things to answer specific questions. Sometimes you have to watch a little video at the station. If we have several days there, we take them home and work on them over the course of several days. They are all different and some take longer than others!
Each park’s program teaches you about the landscape and animals you’ll find in the park. This has been a GREAT addition to our schooling! As a bonus, when the kids turn their booklet back in, they are sworn in as Junior Rangers for that park, and receive a patch or badge! Many times, we look up YouTube videos about the parks/places we will be visiting to learn more about them. Once the kids have learned about the history of a place, the animals that live there, and the landscapes they will see, it’s even more exciting to experience it all in person!
We are a family of faith, and try and start each day with a daily devotional on the Keys for Kids app, followed by a prayer that’s focused on being thankful! As a family, we LOVE music, so we end our time with a worship song that someone picks out (we usually turn it up as loud as we can!) This gets us started on the right foot, ready for whatever our day will look like!
After School education Activities
We try and get all our school work done before lunch so we can explore in the afternoons. We usually go hiking, or do some other outdoor activity, which is our PE! I don’t really “do art” with them, but they DO play in the dirt a lot and make houses and villages out of sticks, leaves and things…so maybe that counts as art?! It definitely gets their creative juices flowing! We listen to music on a daily basis, have dance parties whenever we feel like it, and play lots of board games. Monopoly National Parks Edition has been a favorite. We love it because it teaches them a lot about money, buying things, strategy, trading and negotiating, etc.
Everywhere we go has opportunities to learn about history, geography, and science. They don’t see this as “school”, but the fact is it is BETTER than normal school because they get to experience it IRL (in real life) and they soak it all in. We try and visit state capitols, historic markers, and unique local activities. Even tourist attractions are full of history!
As far as socialization, we always look for other kids at the campgrounds we visit. The playground is a great place to meet friends! We also have met a wonderful network of other full time travel families on Instagram that we meet up with whenever possible! The kids have friends to play with more often than not along our travels so far. I love that they have each other too. They have become so much closer since we’ve been living on the road and it’s so so sweet to watch their sweet bond grow daily.
Roadschooling on travel days
On average, we move every week or so. So a travel day means doing school in the truck. I pack a backpack the night before with a plan of what we will do in the truck. It helps pass the time of driving if they are working and trying to get finished by the time we arrive at our next destination! They know if they work hard, once we arrive they can get out and play/explore, while we set up the RV.
I hear many homeschool moms say they still don’t have it ”all figured out” even after years of doing it. Knowing that takes a lot of pressure off me. I do know that the life experiences they’re getting by living on the road are invaluable and they’re learning so much from our travels!
Our lives are so much less structured and less scheduled than they used to be, and this has been SO GOOD for all of us. We’re more laid back, more relaxed, and all around happier. We love that our days are always different and that our lives are filled with so much adventure! We’re all growing closer to each other and making memories that will last a lifetime!