Guest Post by Kelsey Henry. Roadschooling is a life-changing experience for the whole family. As roadschooling parents, you have a unique opportunity to show your child new perspectives that other kids will never see. With any type of unconventional lifestyle, there are a lot of unknowns. The same is true for roadschooling travel families.
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Watch: Roadschool Survival Story – How a formally Roadschooled Kid Navigates Adulthood.
I know the fears of roadschooling parents very well…
- Will my child get social interaction?
- Will they learn what they need to?
- How will they handle living in a small space?
- How will they handle moving around all the time?
- What will happen after roadschooling?
I know these fears because I’ve lived through them, and come out the other side to become a grown-up roadschooled kid. My parents and I hit the road in 2005 when I was eleven. We had no idea how it would all turn out and very few resources on this lifestyle. What we did know was that we wanted to be together and follow my Dad’s job wherever he needed to go. We knew our why and figured out the rest from there.
As an adult, I can see and understand my parent’s perspective of the RV lifestyle, as well as my own, giving me a unique take on what roadschooling means for parents and kids. With this article, I hope to give advice and encouragement to roadschooling parents from a roadschooled kid.
This experience will shape your child’s future.
Whether you roadschool for a year or all through childhood, this experience will shape your children. They may grow up to desire an untraditional life as well or they may want to settle down and seek stability. Either way, they will have different perspectives than other kids. This could lead to clashing with expectations out in the world.
Think about this… your child has grown up with travel being the “norm”, but it’s not for everyone else. They may come into situations, if they haven’t already, where other people will try to force the “reality” of life on them. You can protect your kids from opinions and judgments now, but not when they are out on their own. They need to be prepared and confident in themselves.
I hadn’t dealt with bullying much until I was out on my own and it showed up in unexpected places. Suddenly, I was made fun of for my childhood and judged for my grand dreams. I didn’t realize that I was hanging out with the wrong people. Surrounding yourself with the right people is incredibly important, which leads me to my next point.
You NEED a roadschooling community.
It is SO important that your children have a community of other kids like them as they grow up and go out into the adult world. Even though kids are all different, they will have some shared experiences and perspectives on roadschooling. They can help each other navigate the ups and downs of life.
I didn’t have this when I went off to college and outside perspectives and opinions began to shape my future for me. No one understood where I was coming from or what I was feeling. Classmates who were planning their corporate careers with two-week vacations couldn’t relate to my fears of settling down into a life without travel. It wasn’t until years later when I discovered the growing RV community that I found people with values like mine and realized who I wanted to be.
A community can give your family and your kids courage and confidence, during and after this lifestyle…and help you as roadschooling parents have courage and confidence too!
Make the most of every minute.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that when I look back on my roadschooling experience, I never think, “I really wish I had done more schoolwork.” No! Instead, I think things like, “I really wish I had taken the time to go on more field trips and was fully present in the moment.”
I had no idea how good I had it as a kid on the road. As an adult, I’ve learned that travel, experiences, and a lot of the fun things I want to do all cost money! Who knew? This makes me so much more grateful for the experiences I had as a child.
Do everything you can now to get out of the textbooks and into real life experiences. You can do this whether you are unschooling or using a specific homeschool curriculum, just don’t let curriculum rule your life. Roadschooling is all about having the freedom to adventure, learn, and wonder. Learning can be so exciting, and it should be, especially while living on the road.
Take advantage of this time together. Celebrate when things go right and laugh when things go wrong. Your time on the road will go quickly, so make the most of every minute.
Show your child what is possible.
Think about the reasons why you hit the road. Did you want to escape the 9-5 grind? Have more time together as a family? Did you long for adventure? Maybe you were searching for financial freedom? Whatever your reasons are for living this lifestyle, make sure your children understand them and feel a part of the vision.
Show them how you’ve created this lifestyle, how you make money on the road, and how you’ve created a life that you love. Give them the tools to succeed after roadschooling. They will learn from your example and this knowledge can take them much further in life.
Teach them how to learn.
One of the biggest fears of our extended family was that I would never get into college as a roadschooled kid. I was determined to prove them all wrong. This self-taught roadschooled kid not only got into college but also graduated with honors of the highest GPA in my major and went on to get a master’s degree.
I didn’t get the highest honors because I was the smartest person in my grade. I got it because I worked the hardest and my teachers could see that. Roadschooling taught me “how” to learn and seek out information. When I struggled with Algebra in my first semester of college, I got extra tutoring every week and did all the extra credit to get an A in the class. The same thing happened in U.S. History when I struggled with writing timed essays. I sought out the resources that could help me improve.
If you can teach your kids this skill, they will be empowered to teach themselves anything they need to know. They will also be able to find the people, knowledge, and resources to help them get where they want to go. You can do this by encouraging their passions.
For example… Say your child is reeeeeally into dinosaurs. Help them learn everything possible about dinosaurs. Add dinosaurs into all of their subjects. Count dinosaurs for math class. Read dinosaur facts and books for science, history, and English class! Have them write stories about dinosaurs to engage their creativity. This will make learning so much more exciting and you can do it for all kinds of passions, from knitting to animals to space to mermaids and more!
You can do this.
My final words of advice to you, as a roadschooling parents, are… “You got this!” Who knows your children better than you? No one!! You know them better than the people who doubt your kid’s abilities or questions your judgment/sanity about selling everything to live in an RV. This experience will change your family, but I believe that it can be for the better.
I spent so much time worrying over if I would turn out “normal” and wanted to prove that I wasn’t the “screwed up” or “weird homeschooled kid” that others thought I might turn out to be. I got caught up in the expectations of others and forgot to ask myself who I wanted to be. Forget being “normal” (what does that mean anyway?) or a “weird homeschooled kid” either. I wanted to be the best version of myself and make my inner roadschooled kid proud.
Don’t get caught up in the expectations of others. You want to live this lifestyle for a reason. When you have a dream like that, you have to go after it! It may not always feel like it, but you are showing your kids how to dream big. If you are consumed with the fears and cast your dreams aside, your children will feel it. Choose to dream. Choose adventure, family, and freedom. You can do this!
Kelsey Henry is a best-selling author, singer/songwriter, podcaster, digital nomad, Laughter Yoga Leader, and coloring page creator. She creates happiness resources and helps others achieve a positive mindset at PositivelyDelighted.com. Her passion for positivity and self-esteem began during her unique childhood growing up roadschooled in an RV from ages 11-17. She is a certified Canfield Success Trainer and Happy For No Reason Trainer and uses these programs to teach the habits of happiness. You can find her traveling the country and running her business on the road from her converted glamper CR-V. Her new book Growing Up Roadschooled: Stories, Lyrics, & Lessons Learned from Full-Time RVing & Life After Roadschooling is a coming-of-age memoir, full of with music lyrics, humor, and positivity.