There’s just something about the open road that inspires people, piques the imagination, and calls for adventure. Whether taking a solo road trip or a family vacation, travel is an excellent way to gain insight into the world around us. As a bonus, traveling is a hands-on chance to learn more about geography and topography!
For those who choose to unschool, travel and learning come together seamlessly to create an ideal version of experiential education. Children and parents both get to experience the freedom in scheduling and learning style that unschooling affords, while also experiencing the privilege of seeing new places, cities, and sites. This type of unschooling is generally referred to as “road schooling” and it can be either a temporary choice or a more permanent lifestyle.
Roadschooling presents a plethora of positive opportunities for families but may also include a few challenges. With preparation, these challenges can be easily overcome. In order to make a smooth transition to road schooling, we’ve compiled some helpful tips on how to get the most out of this exciting unschooling choice.
Involve Family in Planning
Once your family chooses to road school, the entire family can participate by helping with advance planning and coming up with ideas. This can include deciding which locations to travel to, points of interest to visit, researching accommodations (including RV parks or campsites), a schedule or itinerary, supply lists, and creating a budget. Preparing for the adventure bolster collaboration, critical thinking, and life skills such as financial planning and organization.
Not only does family involvement in planning a trip offer valuable teaching moments but it allows the whole family to feel they have a say in the overall road schooling experience. In this way, road schooling becomes tailored to the needs and wishes of the entire family.
Most unschooling families are likely to be familiar with the wide array of free or budget-friendly experiences that public resources offer. As you plan your itinerary, check out the programs that public facilities such as libraries, museums, and national parks have available. Keep in mind that some museums offer reciprocal membership programs. This means that if you already have a membership to a museum, you may be granted entry for free to those in other locales. As a bonus, a number of these public resources may also offer special “homeschool” days or events.
Local non-profit organizations also offer wonderful opportunities for volunteering, academics, and extracurricular activities. Consider contacting the local visitor’s bureau to get more information on events that may be planned, such as festivals, farmer’s markets, conventions, concerts, theatre performances, and much more.
Don’t Forget Roadside Attractions
One of the most memorable stops along a road trip journey can often be the roadside attractions. Many are well-known for their quirkiness, beautiful scenic viewpoints, or unique shopping experiences. On top of all of these, they can be the perfect chance to stretch, get fresh air, and a bite to eat.
There are entire websites and books dedicated to the most famous or most interesting roadside attractions. Some families find joy in allowing their children to each pick which attraction to visit. For those who enjoy collecting souvenirs, these roadside attractions often have fascinating one-of-a-kind items.
Bring a Journal
Don’t forget to document the experience with a travel journal and fun photos. A travel journal lets children have a reflective and fun activity to complete while on the road. In this journal, they can share their favorite places visited, what they learned, and where they hope to travel in the future. Artistically-inclined children can draw scenes of the different cities and people they’ve experienced while on the road.
Parents can help make journaling even more engaging by providing a daily prompt or question or by including scavenger hunts of the places visited.
The gift of traveling is that adults and kids can learn just as much from a planned trip as they do from spontaneous outings. Road schooling allow for families to be flexible in their travel plans. While many children thrive off of scheduled activities, don’t forget to leave time and opportunities for those unscheduled field trips and adventures. You may even choose to dedicate one day a week specifically to spontaneous excursions.
Seek out Socialization Opportunities
Traveling together as a family often helps to form strong bonds and creates lifelong memories. But don’t forget to plan for times where your kids can meet new people, make new friends, and learn and play with others.
Doing some planning in advance for local unschooling meetups or other kid-friendly organizations will help to reduce any concerns about socializing while road schooling. This also gives children something else to look forward to and the potential to make new pen pals.
Turn Your Travel Situation a Learning Lessons
Consider the different ways that your family may be able to travel and how those can offer unique learning experiences. Whether road schooling via a train, plane, car, or RV, each allows for families to become involved in what it takes to make a “home” on the road.
Capitalize on the natural learning that occurs through being exposed to chances to cook, make repairs on a car or RV, doing laundry at a laundromat, and trip planning. Traveling helps to teach adaptability, how to be proactive, and how to roll with the punches when things don’t quite work out as expected.
Roadschooling on a Budget
Based on scheduling, money, and learning needs, road schooling may be a privilege not afforded to every family. However, it can also be done on a budget. There are a number of organizations, attractions, accommodations, and businesses that may offer discounts to educators or homeschooling families. Check into these as you plan your trip and adjust your budget accordingly.
Remember that road schooling can be planned for a weekend, a year, or any amount of time in between. Because the experience offers so much flexibility, it can be customized to meet the needs of almost any family.
Saving money for a road schooling journey can also be an important part of unschooling. The entire family can help to create a budget and ideas for how they can save money for the trip. This project will instill pride in children, help them gain a clearer understanding of finances and budgeting tactics, and will showcase the power of teamwork and dedication.
Road Schooling is a Perfect Fit for Unschooling
Road schooling has gained popularity for the accessibility of learning opportunities, the chance to slow down and allow families to connect, and the way that it tends to help balance personal time and learning time.
With these tips, your family can be on their way to preparing for the road schooling adventure of a lifetime!