It’s a lovely morning.
You wake up to the soothing sounds of raindrops falling on the roof of your RV.
Everyone is stirring.
You look out the window, not remembering if you are in Colorado or Arkansas.
As soon as you see that breathtaking mountain ridge, you remember – Colorado.
The kids are stirring and together you look out the windows.
Identifying the mountains you are looking at, what ridge is that again?
You start talking about the environment around the RV – is it a grassland? desert?
Someone grabs a tablet and the researching begins.
The conversation continues through breakfast.
Books get pulled out, YouTube videos play, and you discuss where you’ll be hiking and what kind of scavenger hunt you’ll have.
You, my friend, have just done some Roadschooling.
Updated December 30, 2018. This article contains affiliates. We receive a commission for purchases made via these links.
Time to Wake up, Or is it?
Ok, that may be a bit romanticized, but it can be amazing and it can be easy.
As parents, we are constantly bombarded with messages and ideas about learning and education.
It can get very confusing and overwhelming even when we are following along with public or private school…and now we have decided to go RVing!!
Yeah, suddenly we are drowning in the opinions and ideas of anyone and everyone that thinks that we are ruining our kids and that our kids will be illiterate drop out welfare recipients (I actually heard that one).
So the first thing we need to do is realize that RVing with kids isn’t for everyone. I’m assuming that since you are here that you think it’s for you (or something you think would be cool to explore).
The opinions of people that don’t get it or don’t have any interest in RVing with school-aged kids doesn’t matter!
RVing with schooled-aged kids gives you the opportunity to not only spend time with your kids, but also allows you to help them learn in the way that is best for them.
I understand that it may be more of a challenge with multiple children, but it is doable.
The most important thing about Roadschooling – It is any type of learning that happens along your travels.
Running on the lawn and counting the buildings
Sitting on the lawn and mapping out the various buildings lining the area and discussing when they were built and what they house.
Sitting on the lawn sketching and identifying the buildings
Discussing the neoclassical buildings and their history as you visit them
Now if you are thinking, Jessica, I don’t even know what neoclassical means. No worries, you have the world at your fingertips right on your phone.
None of us know it all, that’s why we use the resources we have, and the biggest, baddest, and most efficient of them all is the internet.
Please note, I’m not saying books are bad, I’m just saying that when you are outside of a classroom, you have to do and use different resources. Not to mention that carrying a bunch of books while walking around DC will get really, really tiring after a bit.
Actually headed to DC? Check out this quick guide:
What about Curriculum
Roadschooling gives you the freedom to choose any curriculum you would like – from a box set of everything and everything you need (including scripts for the teacher) to keeping random workbooks around for when it’s raining outside and the internet is down.
I’m joking about that last one, but that’s pretty much the kind of curriculum we have.
We do not sit down at the kitchen table at 8 am and work until noon out of workbooks.
Most days the kids aren’t even awake at that time.
Our days completely ebb and flow based on how we are feeling that day, what the weather holds, and where we are.
Yesterday, for example, we woke up and had breakfast and then immediately walked over to the clubhouse.
We spent a good hour putting together a puzzle of the United States.
Lots of geography, state capitals, Cardinal Directions, and Primary InterCardinal directions.
We also talked about cheating…what does it mean?
Were we cheating because we were using a map for reference while putting the puzzle together?
When we completed the puzzle, we also retraced some of the routes we have taken on our adventures and began sharing some of the awesome things we saw and did on our travels.
We also discussed all the places we still want to visit
That was a lot of learning and discussing – bonuses, no one had to be forced or coerced into participating and we learned together.
Again, your family is your family, and my family is my family. Just because we don’t use a curriculum doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.
I’m just trying to encourage you to do what works for you and if you don’t enjoy rallying your kids to the table and making them fill out worksheets or test or whatever…if the time spent homeschooling is a horrible drudgery…why are you still doing it?
We are unschoolers. You can Roadschool and Unschool or Roadschool and traditionally homeschool.
Unschoolers = child-led learning. Following children’s passions and interests and learning that way. Stuff doesn’t happen because we (the parents) think it is best for our children without any consideration for whether or not it is something our kids are interested in. The learning happens naturally and at the pace of the child.
First off, I must let you know that I am not an attorney and I do not know all the laws in all the states to keep you legal, but I know who does!
You can Click Here and get a nice little map that you can click and find out what the state laws are for each and every one of them.
Now you might be thinking, Jessica, am I supposed to stay up to date with all the laws in all the states?
Yeah, see, that’s the thing.
Technically (remember, I am not an attorney, but they are) you are supposed to comply with the laws in whatever state you are in…even if it’s for a day or two.
If you stay in a state for 30 days or more, then make sure you are complying with those laws.
Having said all that, the likelihood of you or someone you know being questioned about homeschooling (or roadschooling) your kids is very low.
We have been on the road for nearly 3 years and the only person that has ever voiced a whole lotta concern was my mom.
For the most part, folks that we have met have applauded our efforts to take our kids out of a broken and dying education system and taking responsibility for their education.
Going back to legalities…
First, comply with the states in your home state/domicile.
If you are in a state with very strict homeschooling laws, I would suggest setting up your domicile in another state – Texas, Florida, South Dakota are popular.
If possible, enroll your kids in an umbrella school – this is generally a private school that will allow you to homeschool your children. They will, at a minimum, maintain records regarding attendance. Some umbrella schools will do more.
Our kids are enrolled in an umbrella school that maintains attendance records.
We also have yearly evaluations for our kids with an unschooling friendly evaluator.
So we have a lot of pieces of paper saying we are legal and that our kids are learning, even without binders and binders or completed worksheets.
What about Falling Behind?
Have you ever thought about what that really means?
It means that there is this arbitrary academic standard that someone made that is now applied to everyone.
This standard takes no account of the individual.
What does it matter if your child reads at 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9??
Does it really impact their overall life?
What if your child isn’t ready to do geometry or algebra?
Why should they be compared to some standard out there?
Your child is gifted at something.
What is it?
Roadschooling gives you the freedom, if you choose, to help your child find their genius.
I did fantastic in public school.
I attended a private university on a scholarship and made the Dean’s List every year.
I could study and memorize and apply the information I learned.
I was ahead.
I can tell you little to nothing of the things I learned.
Because they had no meaning after I took the test or wrote the essay.
They had nothing to do with me or my life or who I was.
I can only imagine where I would be now if I had had the freedom to learn at my own pace.
I would have actually had the opportunity to learn the things that I was interested in.
To still enjoy reading for pleasure because I never had summer reading lists or assigned reading and essays about things I had no interest in.
Tracking Your Roadschooling Experience
Hopefully, you have made it this far.
I’ve covered roadschooling, unschooling, staying legal, curriculum, falling behind…
Now I want to talk to you about having proof of what you learned.
This kind of goes along with staying legal, but goes a bit beyond that.
This could be the first step to letting go of more traditional homeschooling to roadschooling (whether you decide to be eclectic or full-on unschooling).
Documenting Subjects Covered When you aren’t Teaching by Subjects
So this may be your first hurdle.
How do you track the stuff you are doing and learning if you aren’t sitting down at a table to learn math first, and then history, and then science?
The easiest way to do this is by starting a simple spreadsheet.
Here’s an example from several years ago. My child was 5 at the time.
List out the subjects you must cover by law.
Go about and enjoy your roadschooling day – let’s go back to that DC example.
Running on the lawn and counting the buildings (little ones)
Subjects Covered: Physical Fitness, Math
Potential Subjects Covered:
Colors (grass, trees, buildings)
Alphabet (what does green start with?, what about buildings? What does that start with, etc.)
Science (what kinds of animals do you see?)
Sitting on the lawn. Identify the buildings lining the lawn. Discuss when they were built and what they house. Journal about what you discuss on paper or electronically (elementary school)
Subjects Covered: Reading, History, Social Studies
Science – Just discuss the weather, environment, plant life, etc.
Math – Create and solve fun word problems based on what you see
Sitting on the lawn sketch and label buildings, estimate the distance between where you sit and where the front door to the buildings are. (middle school)
Subjects Covered: Art, Math, Social Studies
Critical thinking – Describe the outside of the buildings and why you think they were built that way
Science – What is the impact on the environment based on the level of traffic and congestion seen during the visit.
Discussing the neoclassical buildings and their history as you visit them (high school)
Subjects Covered: Art History, US History, Architecture
Photosynthesis – You have trees around ya, talk about them and how photosynthesis works, not sure, pull out those smartphones
Civics & economics – Should be easily sparked by just being in the US capital
Geometry – Discuss how buildings are laid out relative to the lawn and one another…what angles, distance (formulas like all that hypotenuse/Pythagorean theorem stuff – Not a math pro? Google it!), midpoints, etc.
Again, just look up what your kids need to be legal and fit into your everyday life or look at your everyday life and see how it fits into all the subjects.
I tend to do the latter.
Remember, the internet is in your hand 24/7, use it.
Look up the stuff you don’t know too!!
Learn right alongside your child.
That’s what we do!!
What if you try Roadschooling and You Fail?
I think this is a common fear.
All of us want what is best for our children.
If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have written it.
So how do you fail at roadschooling?
What standards have you set up?
Has someone else said you have failed?
The biggest thing about doing things differently is that you are judged by others (and sometimes yourself) more severely.
The reality is that you don’t know how it will turn out.
This is true for all things in life though.
Think about all the people that homeschool by the book and it didn’t turn out like they thought?
Or what about those that have their kids in school and it still doesn’t go as planned?
There are no guarantees in life and there are no guarantees in Roadschooling.
All you can do is your best and to be there as a family and walk through those moments together.
If you end up with a mathematical genius that gets a full ride to Harvard at the age of 16 you will have obviously succeeded.
How do you measure roadschooling success when your 17-year-old is still not sure what direction to take? Doesn’t want to go to college?
Is that a failure?
Here are my thoughts –
You have only failed your child if you :
Have not supported them
Are not there for them
Don’t support them as they figure out their lives
Haven’t given them the tools to find knowledge.
If your kid knows how to find answers, then you have done your job.
If you have helped them navigate their feelings and you love them, you have not failed them.
Don’t let fear keep you from learning, growing, and creating a wonderful life with your kids.
Roadschooling is more than just book learning…
If you made it this far, I think you know that I believe roadschooling can be an incredible journey for children and families.
This article took some loops and turns I didn’t expect while I was writing it.
It came straight from my heart.
I hope it encourages and helps you.