One of the benefits of homeschooling is the way you can take the classroom with you wherever you go. Because the teaching parent is always plugged in to what their kids are learning, school can keep on going at the museum, or on the trail, or even on the highway. Whether it's history, geology, biology, or learning to read maps, a homeschooled family can get real-world experience using and practicing these skills.
Life in the RV gives you a natural blend of hands-on experience and book learning. When you're traveling the country, you can bring history to life in museums and on battlefields, explore nature at wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, and tour great works of art at the nation's great galleries. Your curriculum can be arranged in a unique way, possibly by region. Imagine studying the Louisiana Purchase by actually seeing what President Jefferson bought! From the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to the California and Alaskan Gold Rushes, you'll give your kids a first-hand look at the events that changed our nation.
Of course, RV homeschooling has its challenges. Space is a major consideration, both in terms of space for schoolwork and space for text book storage. As a result, a number of parents have discovered the incredible array of curriculum materials available online. With a computer and wi-fi access, you can tap into a program like Switched-On Schoolhouse, view CD-ROMS, and possibly even connect to the charter school program back in your hometown.
Keeping a Schedule
One of the most important things to create when you're homeschooling on the road is a steady schedule. Because you'll probably spend some days driving and others sitting in one place, your schedule will have to be flexible, of course. But as much as you can, establish a daily timeframe with morning classes and afternoon free time.
On traveling days, see if you can work learning into the drive. You might ask your child to read out loud to you for short spans of time, such as one chapter every hour. Ask older children to be in charge of the map and quiz them by asking the name of mountain ranges and rivers. Have them calculate distances and estimate a time of arrival based on your rate of travel. Older kids can also figure out your gas mileage and do informal tests to see if highways with different speed limits yield different results. Don't forget about books on tape and informative radio shows. And be creative!
Learning Through Living
When you arrive at your destination, set a schedule that lets your kids explore the historic sites, parks, museums, and galleries on a comfortable time frame. If you can, check the attraction's website to see if there are quizzes or scavenger hunts your kids can do while they're there. And be sure to plan for downtime and the chance for your kids to follow their own interests.
Be sure to follow good hiking ethics when you’re out. Always stay on the trail, and don’t take anything away with you—no flowers, rocks, or sticks. Don’t let your child run on the trail or shout, since this would disturb other hikers and wildlife. And most important of all, no littering. Pack out all of your trash, and your child will learn from your good example.
Ideally, let your child set a part of the schedule. For instance, if you decide the Museum of Natural History and Industry should be on Friday's menu, you might let your child pick what happens Thursday afternoon. If you're worried that they'll pick something non-educational, just give them a list of five or six things to choose from. They might surprise you!
Looking for more information and other great articles about camping with kids? KidsCamping.com has a wide variety of articles, activities, games and learning tools to inspire kids of all ages to love camping and the outdoors