As parents, we always want our kids to do better than we did. That goes for everything, especially education. Whether you send your kids to school every day or whether you choose to educate them at home, we all have that one goal in common. We all want our kids to be well-educated, well-rounded, and happy individuals.
Tips for Planning Roadschooling Trips
Over the past few years, my husband and I have found that RVing has fit that goal. In fact, our travels have become an integral part of our homeschool curriculum. Yes, we are homeschoolers, but these tips are not limited to homeschooling and roadschooling families. These tips can and should be applied to all families that travel with their kiddos. By adding education to our travels, we have found ourselves entering another segment of homeschooling, called roadschooling.
Again, these tips can be applied to everyone, no matter if your kids attend school outside of the home or in your kitchen. As the old cliche goes, as parents we are our children's first teachers. As such, no matter what we are doing, we are teaching our kids daily. We can all be roadschoolers! Roadschooling works to enrich the educational process and make it fun and immersive. If you tend to be a planner like me, then make time for extra-curricular enrichment stops in your travels. Roadschooling will allow you to sneak education into your trips, while your kids are having fun.
Locate museums along your route. Our boys have always enjoyed going to museums but not all museums are created equal and you must keep that in mind as you are searching for stops that will not only educate but also entertain. When our boys were younger, we visited lots of children’s museums. Those museums were used to create entry points for our little ones to enjoy the fun of a hands-on museum experience while learning about the arts and sciences on their level.
Look into getting a membership with a local museum that has reciprocal memberships with other museums across the country or in the areas that you plan to travel to. This way, you can eliminate or reduce the admission costs at each of the participating museums. Our family has used North American Reciprocal Museum memberships (NARM) and (ASTC) Association of Science and Technology Centers Travel Passport.
Do a little extra research on the museums that you plan to visit because many of them will also have workshops, labs, or even homeschool classes that are free with admission for older kids.
State Capital Buildings
If you happen to be traveling through any of our United States Capitals, give them a call. You may be able to schedule your family for a guided tour. Many of these tours will give you a great lesson on the area that you are visiting.
As you are traveling down the highway, stop at the welcome centers as soon as you cross the state lines. There is a wealth of information available for homeschoolers. Staff at the centers are very well versed in the historical landmarks, local foods, festivals, and other culturally significant places of interest.
Study your destination ahead of time to get the most out of your visit. A few years ago, we did a trip up the east coast and decided to stop in some key states to the founding of the United States. Prior to embarking on our journey, we ordered books that centered around the 13 colonies and the civil war. In the months leading up to the trip, we delved into some introductory topics that would make our roadschooling journey come to life.
Our boys were still young at the time, but the information was not lost on them. They were excited about several of the historical sites because they had already read stories about the events that happened there, and the people involved. They had a chance to witness some reenactments and fully immerse themselves in the history that occurred in those states. If I am being completely honest, I learned a lot during that trip as well.
State Parks/National Parks
Don’t forget to add State and National Parks to your road school curriculum. If you have kids that are fascinated by nature and animals, they will find so much to explore on guided nature walks and tours. Our boys found the Junior Ranger programs, which are completely free, to be fun resources while we are visiting the parks. The program allows the kids to have age-appropriate, self-guided experiences in the parks. Depending on the age of the child, the activities ranged between puzzles, a scavenger hunt, attending a hands-on seminar, answering questions about different areas in the park and more. Once the kids have completed the tasks to the best of their abilities, they are sworn in as a Junior Ranger by one of the Park Rangers and given a badge or a patch, depending on the location.
Many towns have factories that give tours to the public. If your kids are interested in the origin of certain things and seeing how they are made, this would be great to add to your roadschool agenda. The key to scoring these factory tours is to plan ahead. Many of the factories that we have come across only give tours on certain days of the week and for limited hours. The worst thing is to look forward to attending a factory tour and then learning that the tour will not be given on the days that you are planning to be in the area. Also, find out if there are any age limits to the tour so that you are certain your entire party will be able to enjoy the tour together.
Regardless of whether you are intentional about your roadschooling journey or not, remember that kids are constantly learning. Whether or not you implement any of the above tips, trust that your kids will learn something. Invite them to help in the planning of the trip; from deciding which states to visit, which route to take, and what meals to prepare for travel. There are lessons to be learned in all of that.
Just keep your eyes open for new ways to connect lessons to your travels and remember to have fun!