Homeschooling while traveling is what is known as Roadschooling! So we decided to create an article dedicated to homeschooling on the road called Roadschooling 101: How to Homeschool While Traveling.
For most of us, school meant growing up with the same bunch of kids in a traditional classroom setting for twelve years. We would sit quietly at our desks that were lined up perfectly in organized rows, while the teacher wrote our assignments on the chalkboard.
Our typical school day would consist of all the basic subjects like Math, Science, English, Social Studies and Spelling, lunch in a noisy cafeteria, and outside recess if we were well behaved that day.
Well, those days are long gone for many students and for many good reasons, one of which is the current COVID-19 pandemic has forced many parents to look into alternative schooling options such as virtual school, remote learning, homeschool, and roadschooling.
You may be eligible for homeschooling financial aid from your state. To find out if you qualify for financial assistance, check with your state agencies to learn more. The states hit the hardest with COVID-19 will get funding first.
As a former public school teacher, homeschooling mother, and full time RV gal myself, I feel I can openly and honestly discuss the pros and cons of all the above.
So, sit back with a good cup of tea or coffee, and let’s learn about roadschooling together!
What is Roadschooling?
Traditionally homeschooling means an alternative to traditional brick and mortar public school education. Homeschooled students learn inside their own homes, which is most often led by their parents. This brings about a lot of positives in a child’s education, but it does come with some challenges too.
The term “roadschooling” refers to homeschooling on the road – mainly those families who are full time RV living with kids. With the current state of our world, many families are selling their brick and mortar homes for a simpler and minimalist life in an RV. Whether it is for financial reasons or a simple lifestyle choice, roadschooling is here to stay, and honestly, it’s more popular than ever!
Is Roadschooling More Fun?
In my personal opinion, YES!
Think about it. You get to nurture your child (or children) not only as their parent but also as their teacher. Most parents do not think about how much of an impact a teacher can have on a child, but I am here to tell you that I know firsthand the influences I have had on all my former students as well as my own daughter’s education.
As young minds soak up information like sponges, it is the responsibility of teachers and parents to be conscious of what we put into those precious “sponges”. In many ways, we literally have the power to guide how a child thinks, behaves, and what things they gravitate towards just by the subject matter and experiences we give them in their education.
Let’s take a book, for example.
One roadschooling family may opt to have their young child read Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss because they want their son or daughter to think creatively and look at the world in an alternative way in which they reach for new heights and seek to see new sights.
Contrast that book choice to one that is more nonfiction and science based, such as What If There Were No Bees by Suzanne Buckingham Slade, which addresses our fragile ecosystems and how losing just one animal species such as the bees could significantly impact our world.
The two students will have completely different experiences and even mindsets from one another just by this one difference in book selection.
When you are in control of your child’s education, you will be able to modify and nurture them in a way far different than what a public classroom teacher can. Please don’t get me wrong. There are many great public school teachers out there (I used to be one of them!).
But with overcrowded classrooms, forced standardized testing, and many other demands put upon teachers these days, many students do not get the extra attention they need when they need it.
Lastly, there is something very special about seeing your child grasp a new concept that you just taught him or her. When their face lights up because they understand a new math concept, for example, is priceless!
Is Roadschooling Legal in Every State?
Yes, it is perfectly legal to homeschool (or roadschool if you are a full time RV living family). You will need to check your local state homeschooling laws to see what you need to do to comply, but as long as you follow them, there should not be any problems whatsoever.
There is also a Homeschool Legal Defense Association you may check into should you feel the need.
Every state is different when it comes to laws, regulations, and requirements for homeschooling or roadschooling families. Here in Florida where I live and have taught in the public schools as well as homeschooled my daughter in the past, you need to do the following according to the Florida Department of Education (fldoe.org):
- Send a written notice of intent to your school district superintendent.
- Maintain a portfolio of educational records.
- Make the portfolio available for inspection by the superintendent upon 15 days’ written notice.
- Provide an annual education evaluation of the student’s educational progress, usually by a Florida certified school teacher, which can be chosen by the parent.
- Preserve the student’s portfolio for two years
- Submit a letter of termination and annual evaluation upon completion of the homeschool education program to your local school district.
Some states, such as Texas, do not have any regulations or requirements for full-time RV families choosing to homeschool on the road. In June 1994, the Texas Supreme Court guaranteed Texas homeschooling families the right to teach their children at home without fear of prosecution. For RV roadschooling families, the state of Texas would be a great home base state!
Not every state is as easy as Texas, however. The strictest states for homeschooling while full time RV living are considered Ohio, North Dakota, Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania. They are all known for having more restrictions and regulations for families wanting to homeschool.
What is Unschooling?
One of the pioneers of homeschooling was John Holt. He coined the phrase “unschooling” to describe the opposite of traditional public school education most of us grew up with.
When homeschooling started to catch on, many labeled it as radical and unorthodox.
To those who are not familiar with this lifestyle, the term “unschooling” may seem like you are not going to educate your child at all. However, this could not be further from the truth!
One of the most beautiful things about homeschooling / unschooling / roadschooling is the child isn’t stuck inside four walls, but rather their education far exceeds the limited boundaries set forth by our public education system.
Often, families who full-time RV are giving their children natural learning environments where other students’ negative influences are removed, and a loving one nurtures their intellectual minds to expand naturally.
Many parents and teachers also have a difference of opinion when it comes to styles of teaching and learning processes. Some believe hands-on is best, while others believe traditional reading and writing books are the optimal way for children to learn.
In my opinion, I think a combination of all is ideal. That way the child gets to experience learning through all of the different learning modalities, and the parent can evaluate which way their child learns best. A cookie cutter approach is the way of the public school system, and it does not work very well for many children.
Of course, every family and every child is different. What one roadschooling family believes is a “pro,” or an advantage may not work for another. This is why I recommend trying different approaches and teaching styles with your family to see which fits your lifestyle and your child’s learning style. Part of the fun is figuring out what works and what does not!
And remember – parents are their children’s best teachers.
Where to Find the Best Roadschooling Curriculums
There used to be only a few options for homeschooling families, but fortunately, with the rise in virtual and homeschooling demands due to COVID-19, we have many more options than we used to. There are many curriculums available to choose from.
As a mom who has taught both public school and homeschooling, I would say do your research on curriculum. Because every family’s values and goals are different, as well as every student’s learning style, the curriculum is definitely one of personal choice.
Christian Based Roadschooling Curriculums
If you are looking for a Christian based curriculum, try looking into the following sites:
1️⃣ Alpha Omega Publications offer K-12 Christian Curriculum packages such as LifePac, Switched On Schoolhouse, Horizons, and Monarch
2️⃣ My Father’s World publishes curriculum for all twelve grades and they offer a free sample download on their website mfwbooks.com
3️⃣ Bob Jones University offers a classical Christian curriculum that has been around for a long time.
4️⃣ Veritas Press offers a self-pace program that is packaged in class subject matters like Grammar, Greek, Bible Studies, Art, Math, Reading, and Writing.
5️⃣ Abeka Academy is a long running Christian curriculum program for over forty years. Their students receive an accredited online program with a long history.
Secular Roadschool Curriculums
Secular homeschooling or roadschooling is definitely on the rise as well. By secular, I mean it is not written from any religious view or overtones. As a former public school teacher, I have spent years in the secular arena, thus vetting and researching much of this topic.
I have put together the following as the ultimate guide to non-religious or secular curriculums available with good reviews and reputations from users:
1️⃣ Singapore Science and Math Curriculum
I personally like Singapore Science and Math Curriculum a lot because of their use of grounding concepts through the use of manipulatives. Young students, in particular, often need something they can touch and feel to make a concept concrete enough for when they have to think abstract later on in their schooling years.
CK12 is an online source for secular Science, Math, and Social Studies. They offer “flexbooks” and cater to each student’s needs and goals.
3️⃣ Laurel Springs Homeschool
Laurel Springs Homeschool is an online accredited private school. They do a great job of preparing students for a more college preparatory experience. If your child happens to be an athlete, Laurel Springs has a long history of being a good choice due to its asynchronous courses. This means the student can complete their work when it is convenient for them.
4️⃣ Khan Academy
Kahn Academy is a unique option as it is an American non-profit educational organization created in 2008 by Sal Khan. It is a completely free option that may appeal to some roadschooling or homeschooling families. Its organization’s unique approach is one that provides short lessons in the form of videos. They do provide some supplemental materials for reinforcing skills and concepts on their website. They also provide their materials in several different languages.
Be sure to check out my homeschooling at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground and Walt Disney World ideas below. Khan Academy even teamed up with Disney for a cool learning opportunity, so be sure to check that out later in this article!
Pros and Cons of Homeschooling While Traveling
As a former public school teacher and veteran homeschooling mom, I will not sugar coat the advantages and disadvantages of roadschooling (homeschooling while traveling with your RV full time).
Traveling can feel like a permanent vacation to you and your children! So this is a distraction and perhaps a disadvantage to some degree because you may feel like the “bad guy” when you have to enforce getting school work done.
But, this can also be looked at as an advantage. Because you are not confined to a five day public school schedule, you can literally set up your own school schedule or, if you like, be totally flexible and let things flow naturally when a learning opportunity presents itself.
As a homeschooling or roadschooling family, you are completely responsible for your child’s education. Again this may be considered an advantage or perhaps a disadvantage! In a public school classroom, this would fall on the teacher as his or her responsibility.
But when you are the teacher and parent, you get full control over how and what your child learns instead of being one of many kids in a sometimes crowded public classroom. In defense of my fellow public school teachers, they can only do so much with large classrooms with over 30 children. In many cases, they are dictated to about how and what to teach.
When figuring out your school schedule, you will quickly learn what your child’s workload and attention span can handle successfully. It may take some trial and error. But this will come in time, I promise! And let’s face it, we all have our good and bad days, so adjust as needed but don’t feel guilty about it. Think of it all as a law of averages – some days, your child will get more done than others, and that is perfectly acceptable.
Teaching on the road presents so many wonderful learning opportunities. Let’s say you go to Walt Disney World and stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness RV Park. It can turn into not only a great family vacation but a fantastic learning experience too.
How you ask? Here are some actual lessons I have done:
Homeschool Lesson Examples
Lesson Idea #1
One of the holistic lessons I created for my daughter in 5th Grade was based on England, located in Epcot. I made up lessons for Math, Writing, Spelling, History, and Social Studies for that day. For the Math portion, I had her do currency conversion from the United States dollar to the Euro on several purchases we made, including our lunch tab!
Lesson Idea #2
As I mentioned earlier about Khan Academy, they have partnered up with Disney’s Imagineering to bring you Imagineering In A Box! Pretty cool, huh?
The really awesome part is that Disney Imagineers from around the world share how they came up with some of the famous attractions, animatronics, and more.
To find this unit, simply go to Khan Academy and search for the “Disney Imagineering In A Box” curriculum unit.
Disney has provided this online curriculum completely free of charge – yes, free! The series offers 32 videos that showcase skills and information provided by the Disney Imagineers, which I believe most roadschooling youngsters would really love.
Lesson Idea #3
While staying at Disney’s Fort Wilderness RV Park, make up a fun science lesson based on the plant life found around the campground. Have your child research what types of trees and vegetation grow there. They can also create an Art project by doing some leaf rubbings.
How to Make Leaf Rubbings at any Campground:
- Collect as many different types and shapes of leaves around the campground.
- Cut large sheets of sulphite paper into squares. You can find sulphite paper on Amazon here.
- Remove the paper wrapping around a few crayons that you wish to use.
- Place a leaf one at a time under the cut sulphite paper in the arrangement you wish to make, or just do one leaf per paper sheet.
- Turn your crayon onto its side lengthwise and rub over the leaf with some light pressure until you get the desired effect.
- Paint or color in the leaf with a crayon color of your choice.
- Hang up your child’s beautiful artwork in your RV so he or she can be proud of their assignment.
Any and all of the above lesson plan ideas I used at Walt Disney World could be applied to almost any destination. Whether you are visiting a museum, state park, or roadside attraction, you can adopt the above lesson ideas to fit the current location.
Is Roadschooling Affordable?
There are so many free and low cost options available these days. It used to be several years ago you’d have to be very creative, but now with the pandemic forcing many students to learn at home, the options are virtually endless!
Some ideas to consider when keeping within your budget:
- Consider renting or buying used textbooks
- Look on Pinterest for homeschooling ideas
- Join one of the many Facebook Homeschooling Groups
- Meetup with other full time RV families and divide up lessons according to your strengths. For example, you may be great at teaching Math, but a roadschooling parent you’ve met at the campground may be a Science whiz. So team up and take turns teaching those subjects. You will enjoy it, and so with the kiddos!
Some other free roadschooling curriculum resources you might like, such as Easy Peasy, Hippo Campus, Freedom Homeschooling, and The Classical Curriculum, are all worthy of checking out as well.
How Many Hours a Day is Required for Roadschooling?
There are no set hour or scheduling requirements that I am aware of in any state. As I stated before, you must find out what your local school district rules and regulations are when it comes to meeting education requirements.
The worse thing to do is not follow state guidelines and find out that your child has to repeat a grade because you did not follow the proper requirements.
Don’t let this deter you from roadschooling and homeschooling! It’s usually not as daunting as it may seem. I always recommend talking to other families who are teaching and find out the scoop in your local area. Joining forces with other homeschooling parents is a great reassurance and will help you feel confident.
What if My Kids Gets Car Sick?
As someone who gets car sick, I can totally relate to this question!
I would imagine that most of your child’s education experience will not be while you are driving the car. However, if your child gets green in the face every time they read in the car, come up with some alternatives.
They can talk with you about the curriculum or watch a video on their laptop (this is actually something I can do that does not make me car sick, but everyone is different!) You can also make a fun car game out of the sights they see out the car window and turn them into an educational experience.
My best advice is to get away from thinking “school” has to be just having your child’s face stuck in a “textbook” because that will really limit everything you do!
Will My Kids Get Enough Socialization While Roadschooling?
This is probably one of the toughest questions and dilemmas we face as homeschooling parents. I have personally found that getting kids talking to adults when we are traveling is sometimes the best socializing there is!
Think about it. Let’s say you are visiting a local museum not far from the RV campground you are staying. What better social experience can your child get than by talking with one of the museum workers with some prepared questions you have come up for your child to ask.
Also, many museums and state parks offer children’s programs, so be sure to research their websites to see if you can get your child enrolled in that day’s activity.
Can My Kids Go Back to School After Homeschooling While Traveling?
Absolutely the answer is yes!
This will be a personal choice that will vary from family to family. Some children thrive in a homeschool environment more than others. If you find that teaching on the road or while full time RVing is not working for your family, then certainly going back to a public school is an option.
With the current state of affairs due to the pandemic, many public school systems are only doing virtual education. So now may not be the best time to go back to a traditional school system. But again, it depends on what your family’s needs are and your situation.
How Does Homeschooling Differ for Primary, Middle, and High School Students?
Roadschooling 101 for Primary Grades
Younger students in the primary grades are usually very excited about learning. Teaching this age has been my favorite for the most part. I taught in 2nd and 3rd Grade classrooms for several years and always enjoyed the enthusiasm for learning in this age group.
Usually, in the younger grades, you will find many resources for hands on learning. Graphics, manipulatives, and textbooks are everywhere. You will also be able to find support groups, extracurricular programs, outreach educational programs, and online resources.
Roadschooling 101 for Middle and High School Grades
When it comes to middle and high school students, they tend to be more independent by nature, so in some ways, homeschooling this age group can be easier. Of course, this depends on the individual because motivating this age group can sometimes be a challenge.
But do not give up! All ages are great for homeschooling, and no one knows your child better than you, so find out what makes them tick and remember to not be too hard on yourself or your child.
Along with the plethora of websites I listed earlier in this article, I have found some good ones for the older students. Keep in mind that you may need to be sure you are getting them college prepped so that they can earn their High School diploma. So in many ways, following your local school district’s rules and guidelines are the MOST important during these years.
Here are some websites and resources for homeschooling older students while living full time in an RV:
Cool Math Games – a fun interactive way to reinforce algebra and other math concepts and lessons.
Teachnology – with over 2,000 printable worksheets available this is a great way to get the extra practice your middle school child needs
Study.com – they offer free online accredited and non-accredited writing courses for your older child.
All In One High School – offers literature and composition at the high school level as well as many other subjects like History, Humanities, Math, and Science. It is an extension of the Easy Peasy curriculum I mentioned earlier.
Roadschooling 101 Conclusion
Whether you are a newbie RV roadschooling family or a newly formed parent-teacher hybrid because of COVID-19 (the struggle can be real guys!), there is certainly no shortage of wonderful bonding moments and yes, even challenges. There are many groups out there like Homeschool Follow Trains, which are like a follow loop for roadschooling families to feel connected and share ideas.
Roadschooling, in a nutshell, is hands on, real life, from the source learning unlike any other. Rather than learning everything out of a book, roadschooling families are immersed in real life experiences like cooking together in their RV, taking hikes at the campground, and getting their hands dirty. Figuratively and literally.
Being a homeschool parent is not always easy, but it will be 100% worth it. Having your children around with you full time is priceless. Everything from the smiles and giggles to the little unplanned teachable moments that crop up every day is going to be a gift for you and your child.
Sure, it may be hard at first to figure out everything. But hopefully, with the resources I have listed here and many others out there that are too numerous to mention, you will not be alone in this roadschooling journey!
Try not to replicate the brick and mortar public school education that most of us grew up with. Instead, think of unschooling your own mindset and try to think like a kid again.
We are in this together!
* Special Note: This article was contributed by Melisa Kennedy. Melisa is a former primary school teacher and she is a full time RVer too! Thanks for the great article Melisa!