Mary Carlton and her family are roadschooling across the country.
Mary wrote to us, wanting to share the following information/advice–
We are a family of 5 with three kiddos (11, 7, and 4). About a year ago we decided to remove ourselves from the expectations of society and start a family adventure across the United States in a 32 ft. travel trailer! Our goals were simple. Live simply and experience life! Homeschooling is a challenge no matter what. It can become quite the conundrum on the road! It gets easier because the world is your lesson book. The hard part comes with the discipline to do work and not just play. I have come to realize that the biggest thing to understand is that you will never be done figuring out your schedule and curriculum. It seems to be a living, breathing thing that is always being tweaked. And while it will continuously evolve into something that suits you as you grow, it will never be perfect. With that being said, here are my tips for homeschooling on the road:
1. First and foremost make sure you understand the laws of your home state and follow them! Each state is different. A good site to find out about your states homeschooling laws (and other great info) is: http://www.hslda.org/default.aspx.
2. Get the right equipment. I use my laptop and printer almost every day! Size, noise level, and ease of use are important (as is a good supply of paper).
3. Get an e-reader. Weight in the trailer is an issue that we have to be conscious of. So carrying around a lot of books is not feasible for us. Enter the Kindle! It’s a great way to offer lots of book options to each child! Its easy to use in all atmospheres and is lightweight and small. One book that we do have hardback is a good children’s dictionary. It gets a lot of use!
4. Organize! Each of my children has a tote that has any notebooks or folders they need on a daily basis. It helps with the clutter! They also have a check list that hangs on the cabinet door. Once they are done with a subject, they check it off so I can see that it’s completed and can go over it when I have the time.
5. To cut down on paper needs, my husband turned our dining table into a white board! He cut a sheet of white board to fit our table top and used heavy velcro to secure it. Easy to do and very helpful to use throughout the day. It also doubles as a place for the kids to draw on instead of having to keep a lot of scratch paper on hand.
6. Try to stay at state parks, they have a great Junior Ranger program. Lessons and such for the kids and then they get a pin to show that they did it! You can even find some vests to put the pins on as a keepsake!
7. Invest in a Federal Park Annual Pass. It’s $80 for the year and all the proceeds go toward visitor recreation services for federal parks. Plus the pass means you get in free 🙂
8. Take advantage of your environment and don’t forget to multitask! On laundry day have them do their writing assignments or math worksheets. If it’s a nice day then head out for a nature walk or a bike ride. Remember that school doesn’t have to happen from a book! On travel days have them bring some work in the truck, listen to books on tape, or have them map out your route using a map!
9. Don’t forget field trips! Even though you’re life is a living breathing field trip, don’t forget to make time for the great libraries, museums, and zoos that each state has to offer. Guided tours of cities count too!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning said: Earth’s crammed with heaven.
Relax and take each day slowly, allowing yourself and your children to absorb all the miracles that God has given us on this earth. Each moment has a lesson and they don’t come from books. Our children are sponges and learn and absorb more than we can imagine. Life is the greatest teacher…all we have to do is allow them to experience it!
Mary’s blog can be seen here.
Fun! And fun learning is forever learning!