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Home Schooling on the Road

5:11 PM

Homeschooling on the road or Roadschooling as some call it has been a lot of fun, though not without its challenges. We have Homeschooled off and on over the years and have used a variety of methods. We tried using a Montessori derived Homeschool method, but it is quite extensive in its material requirements as well as its guide/teacher requirements. Though I love the method dearly it did not work for our situation. We also tried the online K12 program. For those of you who don't know it is a free online public charter school. It is a great program in that they provide you with all the materials you need, books, workbooks, even a computer and printer if you need it. It is quite structured and the child has an online teacher with whom they have virtual class sessions. They also have a set assigned path in each course that they complete and test/quiz in before progressing on in the subject. There is some flexibility however in the course work. The child can move at their own pace and can test out of sections as well.

There were things I loved about this program as well as things that I was not so into. I loved the set structure but not so much all the testing. I loved having a teacher to work with and not being completely on my own. I wish there had been more control for the parent in choosing how and which subjects to teach. All that aside I felt like the program was a pretty good, but in our new lifestyle it physically does not fit. There are boxes and boxes of materials involved. It also does not fit our schedule. Each day for us is drastically different. Some days we have internet and some days we don't. Some days we are in the car pretty much all day and some days we are held up in our camper. Some days we are in a new place and we must spend the entire day exploring! I know it's a rough life!! K12 simply did not fit our new lifestyle.

I also knew I did not want to purchase a big curriculum as they can be quite pricey and often have several books to store. Many of them also have a Christian bent to them and though that may work for many families I prefer a completely secular education for my kids. I started doing some research and found Time4Learning. It looked quite promising and was very reasonably priced. We tried it out for a while. I liked the lessons we tried and the girls really liked it too, but we ran into a couple of logistics problems. One, it depended on the internet which left us high and dry on non-internet days. Two, the tablets I had bought for the girls to use for their school did not support the website, bummer! It meant that they would have to take turns on my computer and that meant that I could not get my work done as quickly. So ultimately we decided that it did not fit our needs either.

I thought perhaps Unschooling was the way for us. Wikipedia defines Unschooling as:

 "an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including playhousehold responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction."

I love the idea that the child is the director of their own education, and I think that following the child is the key to reaching the child in a meaningful way.  I am however not ready to completely give up all control to the girls. I think that they do need some guidance along the way and a bit more structure too. So I can not call us Unschoolers either.

So where do we fit in? I am still not sure, lol. Here is what we are doing and what has been working for us thus far. On the days we explore, we learn hands on. We have a lot of great field trips that way! Like the salmon spawning

or the tidal pools

On the days we are traveling we play car games like spelling skittles...a favorite for my little sugar junkies!
The girls also have some great learning apps on their tablets like First Grade Learning Games (They also have other grade levels.)

When we are stuck in the camper we do a lot of workbook lessons or research places we have been or are planning to go. We take advantage of libraries as much as possible too.
On days we have an internet connection we have found some amazing resources. Here are links to the ones we are using and love!

  • Adapted Mind has free math and reading lessons as well as a more extensive paid membership package. The skills build on themselves and the child earns points and badges as they work.
  • e-learning for kids is for children 5-12. It is a free program with lessons in the subjects of Math, Science, Environmental Skills, Computer Skills, Health, Language Arts, and Life Skills. The lessons are animated and engaging. 
  • Webrangers is the National Park Service's website directed at kids. It is pretty cool and a wonderful extension to the National Park Service's Jr. Ranger Program which is available for free at most national parks and is an amazing program. I wrote a little about our first experience with it here.  In the online version the kids get to set up their own ranger station and earn virtual badges by completing various lessons.
  • Khan Academy is one of our favorite sites. It is a free website for all ages...even adults! Students complete online assessments and lessons. They have instructional videos to teach them new skills, and the skills build on themselves keeping the student on track and at the correct educational level. So far we have only used this for math but there are other subjects available as well, including test prep for high school kids. As a parent coach you can monitor your child's progress along the way. The kids love it as well because they get to earn points which unlocks various avatars. It is a really cool program and I look forward to trying out some of the classes as well!   

Our schooling is an ever changing dynamic way of learning, and though it may not be conventional, it works for us. Our girls are always learning, we don't take weekends or holidays. We have no such set schedule. We strive to provide them with as many types of educational experiences as we can and each day looks a bit different. I am sure it will change even more as we progress through our lives because as circumstances change so do our educational needs and our available resources. For right now though we have found our groove! 

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