Homeschooling while Traveling

I am VERY, VERY blessed to have a husband with a job that allows me to travel. We use that privilege a lot and it’s one of the [millions of] reasons why I love homeschooling so much.

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Math during a layover…

That being said, if I used our ability to travel as much as we do, and never got schoolwork done, it wouldn’t really be a blessing to my family. For the record – I am not talking here about a family that rarely travels and dumps the books for a week at grandma’s. I would say we travel for at least 4-6 weeks during the “school year” (usually in 4-7 day chunks) and more during the summer, so it would have a significant impact on my kid’s schoolwork if we just dropped a week at a time.  Now that we’ve been homeschooling (and traveling) for 7 years, I feel like I can give my “best of” tips for traveling while schooling…

We school year round. There are a lot of reasons why I do this, and travel is a big one. I don’t want to stress out about taking a week off here or there and not getting math done for the year. So, if we’re home, we school. During the summer we usually hit math and writing, or do fun science stuff, but our “norm” is a couple of hours of schoolwork. The kids TOTALLY see the pay off, so it’s not (usually) a huge deal.

We school on the road, usually. Travel days are, to me, a waste. You’re usually cooped up somewhere (a car or plane, usually), and you have to entertain kids. Since my kids were little we would use those times to knock out a lesson. Assuming we travel for 5 days, and 2 we travel on – then at least we get 2 mini days done. By schooling “on the road” I mean a relaxed schedule. Math is easy to pull a couple of pages out of book… CLE (Christian Light Education – a favorite of mine) is simple to take anywhere (usually one light unit book)…  reading is a great way to occupy time and get some assignments done… keeping a journal/scrapbook/blog can cover some writing…

Usually we have no more than an hour or so of work a day, unless we’re visiting family. With family it’s a little more because the other kids are in school when we’re there, and we do it so often I have to compensate the lost time a little. Really though – 2 hours a day won’t kill the vacation and there is always great incentive to get the work done. 😉 Yes, some trips we drop everything and just relax, but my norm for casual travel is to “do something”.

FIELD TRIPS!! Ok, I am a field trip snob. To me, a trip to the mall is fun, but it’s not school. We make an effort to enjoy the educational aspects of where we visit. Tours, parks (local and National), events, museums – we try and hit a few every trip. It doesn’t need to be huge or expensive (though we’ve done some of those) but it does need to be instructional. If you’re at a loss as to what to visit – google the area and “field trips” and you’ll likely find some great options. Also, check to see if any museums have kid’s programs. LOTS of art museums have really cool kid audio tours, find it hunts, etc. Just ask when you buy your tickets. Lastly, the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger program is totally awesome and well worth your time to earn a few badges.

Ted William's flight jacket - cool museum stuff iseverywhere!

Ted William’s flight jacket – cool museum stuff is everywhere!

Involve the kids in the trip planning. We’ve used trip planning for scouting advancement requirements, but it’s also a great way to get any kids involved and thinking about travel. This summer we’ll road trip nearly across country – and the kids will do most of the planning. Yes, it takes longer to do this, but they’ll be way more into the trip and excited about educational stops if they’re the ones who planned it.

Let the kids work while traveling. We’ve traveled enough that the kids are now fully qualified to fly into a large airport, navigate around, find and buy a meal, and deal with changes. If you land, read the gate board, and drag everyone with you – they’ll get nothing out of the experience of traveling. If you have time – let the kids manage the airport/finding a rental car desk/picking up baggage. This is life skills 101 and it’s an awesome learning lab. I do this with all trips now, and with public transportation, etc. Yup, with time, I get lost too. Nothing unsafe – but if the kids are leading – let them lead!

Limit electronics while traveling. I am generally anti-electronics anyway, but limiting them during travel makes schooling on the run so much easier. My kids are older (finishing 5th and 6th grades), so they now get a list of stuff to finish by the end of the trip. It works great. When they were younger we’d do school on trips to keep them occupied and quiet. Limiting screens always made it easier to get work done when they were little, and it’s a great incentive now that they’re older and can manage screens better.  If there’s a DS nearby, math looks a whole lot less interesting. If there’s a dvd player in the car, then books on audio are less appealing. My kids read, and read, and read, and read in the car and I am certain that wouldn’t happen on long trips if other things were available. It possible, limit or closely manage electronics.

I hope that helps a little.  Traveling with kids and homeschooling on the road really isn’t hard. It’s a great way to get all the adventures in – without any of the missing school guilt!

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