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Homeschooling “on the go” can be a lot of fun when you let it be. We find that we have the most fun when we are away from the house. I guess we don’t “homeschool” as much as we “on-the-go-school”. The idea of being away from the “classroom” is awesome and brings about a renewed energy. We may take too many “field trips”. Our “trips” don’t always go along with one of the bee’s (my nickname for the kids) curriculum. Some trips are more for us (the parents) or they could be planned just for one of the kids. Regardless of why or where we are, we always end up catering the trip so the kids learn while we are on the road. In the last month, we’ve road tripped to two states; one was for Bubba’s (my oldest child and only boy) martial arts tournament and the other one was for us to simply enjoy the destination. You can read about Bubba’s tournament and our sightseeing in Tallahassee.
Road Trip Homeschool – Destination: Biltmore Estates
My family is known for our cool road trips. What most people don’t know is that they are usually last-minute plans. For the trip to the Biltmore Estates, we left on a Thursday morning but came up with the entire idea a mere 12 hours prior to leaving. Our schedule isn’t very flexible even with my desire to be away. We have martial arts, dance, co-op, boy scouts, MOPs, and neighborhood friends. Sometimes being away isn’t easy but for some reason, we made this trip happen without missing a beat or an activity.
Packing is dreadful to some. Maybe most. I am not a fan of packing my crew. Usually I leave it up to Marty (my husband). If I lay out my stuff, he handles all the rest. It’s amazing. He may pack the suitcases and car, but I try to handle the schoolwork. Marty teaches for a good chunk of the year but I do most of the prepping for each week and the main teaching. Teaching on the road isn’t hard. Sometimes it’s easier than teaching at home because my bees constantly find distractions or excuses to go do something.
Let’s start off with packing. First, I read our schedule. If the week is laid back, it makes packing a breeze. If it consists of more than average reading or note booking, then it can get disorganized quickly. The first to be packed is the schedule. Bubba and I would be a hot mess without that. We’d probably just stare at each other if we didn’t have it. The next to go is his little computer. It’s a tablet/laptop combo thing. It’s strange but we got it for less than $200. It’s great for his math and history (I will explain in a minute).
The little computer and laptop go in his book bag. His bag has a space for computers so it works out great. We then grab his binders. I have separated science and history into 2 separate one-inch binders. It makes for easier transporting and gives him something to bear down on. We grab the science books he needs for the week which are all thin textbooks and lightweight. History is on his computer via the World Encyclopedia with the note booking binder. Math is on his computer via Teaching Textbooks. Language Arts is in a workbook so he will pack this and my teacher answer key in the bag. He grabs his pencil and pen case and voila we are done! Seriously. That’s an entire week in a book bag that isn’t heavy at all. His work for the week is contained. I am not a fan of loose paper flying about everywhere. This is another reason the small, one-inch binders work so well for us.
What about Rea? My kindergartner’s curriculum was ripped out of the workbooks and placed into a 3’’ binder at the beginning of the year. It made it easy for me to separate her subjects and keep them all together in one place. It saved us a lot of shelf space. When it comes to her work, I go over her schedule for the week as well. I pull all the sheets she will need to work on for each subject. I place them all in a manila file folder and voila, she is packed. I will bring my teacher guide for her so I can have answer keys to any quizzes or tests she may have. It also helps me teach each new lesson.
Where do I teach?
The kids have enough space in the car to do work without hitting each other. They also know I mean business in the car too. I don’t feel like dealing with any shenanigans in super close quarters. Plus they don’t want to have to redo sloppy work when they can be having fun. With that said, the drive we spend on lessons. I prefer for Bubba to work on math at this point so I can work with Rea on Language Arts. Teaching Textbooks is a good fit for us and he only needs me if he really didn’t grasp a concept. By the time he wraps up a lesson in math, we are wrapping up her language arts for the day. He will read his history lessons and answer the note booking questions on his own. We go over them later but the questions make him dig for more in-depth answers so it takes him about 45 minutes to an hour to complete a history lesson for the day. This gives me plenty of time to teach a math, social studies, and sometimes a “think and learn” lesson to Rea. Once she has finished her set, she will move on to reading. She reads quietly but out loud. She sounds out each word so I know what she is saying and can help correct from the front seat. When Bubba wraps up his history, he moves on to science. Science is fun to him so he enjoys reading the textbook and answering questions. Depending on what is happening in the car at the time, he may or may not read out loud so I can hear what he is learning. I prefer for him to read out loud because it gives me a better understanding of his learning, how he is processing information, as well as giving him skills he will need later in life-like public speaking. Depending on our destination will determine how much is done in the car. I prefer to be next to him when we do language arts. Language Arts isn’t easy nor does it come natural to everyone. I want to make sure he is on track.
Teaching in the car or hotel isn’t hard?
The drive to another destination or the drive home schedule is just like the one above. While we are at the hotel, our family or friend’s house, or in a tent, we do it a little differently. I don’t want them (or myself) to be swamped with so much work that we can’t enjoy our getaway. So wherever we are staying has a more laid back routine. In the mornings, Bubba will complete a lesson or two in math. If we have time to knock out two lessons then we will. It frees up the next morning a little bit. I will have him eat breakfast and get ready. Marty and I go over what we have planned to do for the day and that will dictate what goes with us in the car. If we know we will have long lunch, then at least one subject is going with us. If it is going to be a full day, I don’t freak out. We will have driving time to complete everything. Even if I drive, Marty takes over and teaches the lesson. I don’t stress at all about Rea because picking up new concepts comes easy to her. It may be that it’s kindergarten, but she just gets it from the start. She will fly through her work, know it’s correct, and try to grade herself. She is funny. I truly hope this continues with her.
But seriously? You said you went to the Biltmore Estates! Yes! Okay. Now let me get to the really good part. When we travel we plan to stop at state parks, national parks, eccentric “hole-in-the-wall” places, diners we see on the Travel Channel, “roadside Americana”, etc., etc. We usually try to get off the beaten path to see part tourist areas and part local areas. At the Biltmore Estates, we stayed on their property at The Biltmore Inn. It was beautiful and luxurious. We were walking distance to the little farm and village. We drove around the estates and then into Asheville. The entire time one of us is reading the background to the area from a guidebook I bought. It was mostly about the Biltmore house and the grounds but it covered Asheville as well. We try to prep the bees with information before going somewhere so that at least have a foundation of what we are about to see.
The next day was spent at the Biltmore. Ah. It was grand. The bees had their own audio headsets (just for kids) to listen to as we went from room to room. Who knew my 6-year-old would enjoy listening about the details as we went along. I am pretty sure she didn’t understand the majority of it but she remembered a few things. Bubba has been to and remembers our last trip to New York City. He was shocked to find out that the person who designed the landscape for the Biltmore Estates is the same guy who laid out Central Park.
Please road trip with your kids. Homeschooling can seem hard enough on it’s own at the house, but don’t let it beat you into the ground. Get out there and see what’s near or far with the kids. The schoolwork will get done and they will learn more from the trip than you would expect (unless you go to a theme park like Disney – then that’s just a whole lot of fun).
Don’t get bogged down trying to teach every bit of a curriculum. When you are out there experiencing life there is something new around every corner to teach and learn about.