As my family prepared to hit the open road for a year-long RV trip, I knew providing my kids with an education on the go would be crucial. We were “roadschooling” – taking our school on the road while traveling full-time. When you live a nomadic lifestyle crisscrossing the country and exploring new destinations daily, traditional brick-and-mortar schooling isn’t an option. While this unique educational approach appealed greatly to our wanderlust family, I had many questions and concerns regarding making sure we legally covered all the state regulations for homeschooling on wheels.
Selecting a Home Base State
One of my first steps was selecting a home base state that was legally friendly to homeschooling families. This would determine what guidelines we needed to follow. Requirements differ greatly per state, especially regarding enrollment statuses, curriculum choices, testing protocols, and compliance reporting. The research was critical in determining where to claim residency. After an in-depth review of all 50 states’ statutes, we opted to be Florida residents for our trip’s duration due to their flexible, parent-self-directed homeschooling laws with minimal government oversight.
Complying with Enrollment Policies and Exemption Options
Florida has fairly open public school enrollment exemption qualifications, with several routes to choose from. The home education statute simply requires notifying the county school district with a written notice of intent prior to starting an alternative non-public program using a state-issued form. Standard protocol is then submitting an annual evaluation documenting student progress to maintain exempt public school status.
Since we wanted to preserve the ability to easily transition back into our original California school district upon return, I decided to file a ‘temporary private school enrollment’ rather than a typical homeschool notice. This distinction meant legally we were enrolling the kids full-time in our own parent-founded and self-directed private school while traveling, rather than exiting public education. It was the best option for re-enrollment ease later, preventing any gaps in their academic records had we needed to show continuous grades for high school transcripts for example.
- States, where no notice is required (Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas), have no oversight and are very roadschooling friendly.
Researching and Complying with Curriculum Requirements
Florida is considered a “low regulation state”, meaning curriculum guidelines are flexible with parents given autonomy in choosing materials that best fit their student’s learning styles and educational philosophies. There are no state-mandated subjects, approved texts, or syllabi required for home educators. Families have full discretion in tailoring their course content and schedules. While fairly lenient, parents must provide an annual educational evaluation documenting their children are making adequate progress with their individualized curriculums year to year.
With curriculum oversight lax and customizable materials encouraged, I revealed designing engaging, multidisciplinary project-based units incorporating our expedition’s experiential hands-on adventures meeting objectives for language arts, math, social studies, and science credits simultaneously. Daily real-world applications cemented retention beautifully. Utilizing a student-directed interest-led approach interweaving both structured workbook assignments as well as practical life learning worked well in capturing formal credits I later logged submitting our portfolio for our private school’s annual review.
- States with low regulations (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) have few legal restrictions beyond submitting intent paperwork, which is relatively easy for roadschooling families.
- States with moderate regulations (Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.) require more assessments and record keeping but roadschooling is still possible.
Documenting Progress with Standardized Testing
While we weren’t required to administer formal tests, I opted to have my kids take a nationally normed standardized exam annually as an independent assessment tool useful for comparing their progress to grade-level peers. Florida recognizes a variety of national tests, including versions of the IOWA, CAT, or Stanford 10. As a certified teacher myself, I valued tracking comparative data quantitatively especially for core subjects like reading and math. It also prepared them for higher level exams like college entrance tests later. We enrolled with an accredited homeschool academy granting high school diplomas that had testing facilities nationwide that we could access conveniently on the road.
Researching Part-Time Public School Options
While we primarily roadschooled self-directed full-time, I did want access to supplemental courses at local public schools if beneficial. Many states allow homeschooled students to attend public education part-time for select classes, sports, or extracurricular activities. However, policies differ extensively per district on availability and eligibility requirements.
I researched options extensively for everywhere we traveled, assessing if enrollment was limited to core academics or if electives, performing arts, clubs or athletic team participation was open to homeschoolers. Some states like Arizona allow access quite freely based on available space and principal approval, while others like New York strictly limit enrollment to only academics. Budget cuts also impacted accessibility, as districts would prioritize their full-time residential students first typically. While we attempted part-time enrollment occasionally for things like band classes my son was interested in, we found limited slots. But policies are evolving yearly towards more inclusion nationally.
Complying with State Regulations Short-Term
Navigating compliance with state educational laws for a temporary stay while full-time traveling had added complexities. The length of the visit dictated what guidelines were applied in many locales. We learned most legislation granted a 30-60 grace window before mandating compliance if relocating. Short vacations under that threshold had no tracking or reporting required. But any extended stay beyond 30-90 days often necessitated notifying the state and providing proof of enrollment in a home education program within an authorized school district mile radius.
For example, during a 2-month housesitting gig in North Carolina, I had to file temporary intent to homeschool paperwork and submit prior California transcripts. Typically an out-of-state homeschool verification form signed by the originating school district’s superintendent sufficed. Many states uphold transfer enrollments recognizing continuity. Keeping thorough records and obtaining proper signatures before departing my home base proved essential to have on hand. I learned it’s critical to confirm statutes for every state crossed when temporarily domiciling and moving around full-time.
- States with high regulations (Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have strict rules making roadschooling more difficult with frequent in-person requirements.
Last But Not Least…
Here are the most commonly declared domiciles within each category of state regulation levels stated above –
No Notice States
Low Regulation States
Los Angeles, CA
Las Vegas, NV
Moderate Regulation States
High Regulation States
New York City, NY
I provided the top three most populous cities as those metro areas with larger populations would logically have more families claiming them as domiciles year to year. Let me know if you need any other specifics on commonly declared domiciles related to complying with roadschooling regulations!
Wrapping It Up
While roadschooling seemed an idyllic match for our on-the-go brood, ensuring we ticked all the legal boxes for compliant home education while traversing the country had its fair share of paperwork. Record-keeping was intensive, but planning thoroughly with an analytical lens examining state specifications prevented any violations. Our journey blending travel’s enriching world class with interactive studies sculpted an unparalleled 3D perspective positively impacting our kids’ development exponentially. Despite the regulatory rigors, ultimately our family’s deep bonds and enriched insights gained from roadschooling exceeded any bureaucratic burdens faced fabulously!
Common Related Questions
Do I need to register or notify any government agency if I start roadschooling my kids?
Yes, you typically need to register with your claimed state of residency by filing the required homeschooling paperwork even if traveling full-time. This proves you have established an authorized home education programming exemption criteria. Also, notify any state you domicile over 30+ days.
Can my kids still participate part-time in public school academics or sports if we roadschool?
It depends on the state and district policies. Some welcome homeschooler participation while others restrict access. Budget cuts and capped enrollments limit slots too. Research rules thoroughly wherever traveling to assess if local public school amenities can supplement private roadschooling.
Do I have to meet curriculum or testing requirements if homeschooling my kids in an RV across states?
Expectations differ per state residence claimed. But even flexible ones require annual educational assessments showing adequate progress is occurring with chosen materials. While testing isn’t mandated, have some metrics established that benchmark skill gains aligned to grade level expectations for documentation.
Can roadschooling impact my child’s ability to earn a recognized high school diploma for college admission later on?
No, many accredited homeschool academies grant legitimate diplomas conforming to graduation qualifications expected at university levels. Ensure transcript logging and test scores verify at grade level mastery meeting core high school subject bare minimums. Validate your roadschool’s legitimacy with college advisors too.
Do I need to file compliance reports on my roadschooler’s progress in every state I travel through short-term?
Likely not, if just vacationing for under 30 days. But extended stays beyond 30-90+ days often require notifying the state, confirming home education enrollment status on record back in claimed residency with proper supervision ongoing. Carry documentation and get signatures verifying active oversight by your originating school district if temporarily redomiciling.