We have always homeschooled, even before we started traveling full time in our RV. Homeschooling the traditional way...from your house, is one thing.. But homeschooling on the road from your RV presents a whole new set of challenges.
I love this lifestyle though and all the opportunities it provides us all to learn and grow. Homeschooling while on the road is so rewarding and I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach my children in this way. I made this video just to share a few of the challenges we face and how we overcome them.
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One Small Problem...Space
Where on earth are we supposed to do school in 389 square feet of space?
ANYWHERE of course! Most of our homeschooling on the road happens around the dining room table, just like it did in our sticks and bricks home. Our RV's table is a tad small. but for 2 or 3 kids, it works out fine.
Some days, we do our schoolwork outside. Some of it, especially our Bible reading and history lessons, are done while piled on the couch!
We do as many lessons as possible outside in the fresh air. Many days, we read outside sitting under the awning.
Storing homeschool supplies for our family DOES have it's challenges though. When we first started out, I had TONS of books, different manipulatives, and learning games. Many of them did not get used but once or twice a year. So I got rid of most of the things that wouldn't be used on a day to day basis.
We currently use a curriculum called My Father's World. It is a Christian classical curriculum that is very centered around reading and loads of books. Instead of purchasing all the books we might want to read throughout the year, we visit the local library wherever we are. So far, we have not had a problem checking out books or getting access them online.
One of the best things however about homeschooling on the road, is that the world is our classroom! We can learn anywhere. At the museum, the aquarium, the National Park, or even just playing around a campground!
Younger Siblings Not In School
"Mommy! here are your unicorn peanuts!"
This is usually what happens throughout our morning while we try to do school. With little sister being the only child not in school, we have to find ways to keep her entertained and occupied so that the boys can get their work done.
Most days, this means giving her coloring pages, a video to watch, or a game to play in another room. Now that she is getting a little older, she has started asking to "do school" too. Many days she sits and listens to our Bible and history lessons and then does a coloring page.
Since I made the video above, she has started using a few iPad games that are educational and she really enjoys that!
There are TONS of resources out there for younger siblings that can help keep them entertained while the older ones do school. And whenever possible...just let them join in!
We Are Not On A Permanent Vacation
One of the biggest problems we face is distraction. Lots of people think that full time travel means we are on a really long extended vacation. That is not the case at all. We still have to work, do school, and chores just like if we were living in one location.
When we are in a new location and there are things that we are really excited to go do and see...it can make having to do school first a challenge for not just the kids, but us as well.
We have to get work done We have to do our chores. But boy, can it be tempting to just drop everything and go have fun. So we have a little rule in our house...
"You can't do the fun thing, til you do the real life thing!"
We also homeschool on the road school year round. Our kids don't get a 3 month summer but we do take A LOT of days off. We plan ahead, and if there is going to be a day that we take off from school, we will make it up later. Luckily, we are domiciled in a state that has very relaxed homeschooling laws. We do not have to document hours, subjects taught, or test at the end of the year. This makes taking those days off easier.
Am I Doing Enough?!
This is a question that EVERY homeschool parent asks of themselves throughout their homeschool journey.
In the beginning, I thought that I needed to do everything that the kids in public school were doing. We had art time, and reading time, and wall charts, and on and on. But what I didn't know is that homeschooling, and especially homeschooling on the road is NOT "school at home." It is very different and it doesn't look the same for any two families.
That is what is GREAT...homeschooling on the road, or "roadschooling" can be customized to what works for your individual family.
Do I have days where I feel like I am not doing everything right? OF COURSE I do!
If I have a child that is struggling in a certain area, I can start letting myself think that I haven't done enough. I haven't helped enough, or I missed something that they were needing. But the truth is that many parents feel this way, not just ones that homeschool. We always feel like we haven't done enough for our children.
I also have doubts about bringing them on the road. Sometimes I wonder what they are missing by not having a steady group of friends, or a baseball team, or a Sunday School class that they grow up with. But THEN, I see how they interact with the people we meet. I see the way they are instantly able to make new friends, and how they thrive on learning about all the places we go...and all those doubts fly out the window!
I just have to regularly tell myself..."I am equipped for this. God has given me what I need, and when I doubt myself, I just need to turn to Him and ask for help."
Everyone needs a community to belong to. (But a real one...the mannequins at Target definitely don't count!)
When we were living in one place, we were able to find that through work, church, and other local homeschool families.
But when you decide to hit the road without a real home base to go back to, it makes finding community a bit more difficult. The desire to have a community though is really great for me. I like to have other people to bounce ideas off of and to go to when I need just to vent to another like minded person.
We joined several groups when we went full time that have made this easier.
First off, we joined Fulltime Families. FtF for short, is a group of other full time traveling families just like us. We are able to meet up with other families and our kids make instant friends! And I...get to connect with other moms! They hold several rallies and meet-ups throughout the year but its also just fun to be able to find and meet others as we travel.
We also are members of Escapees/Excapers. We have yet to go to a rally because of timing but look forward to this in the future.
There are many Facebook groups for full time RV families. However, my word of warning: be careful what you post. Many groups are public. We are really careful about what we post about our family/where we are/how long we will be somewhere.
One of the best ways for us to stay connected is to make plans to meet up again with other families we have met along the road. It's so much fun to meet someone we have never met and become such good friends that we make an effort to meet up again.