There’s Road Schooling, Homeschooling and Unschooling, which is the right choice for our travelling family?
Our version is a variety of all three, mixed with learning new languages and traditions as we travel around Europe. We have no home, and on the road, therefore for all purposes here, we will call it Road Schooling.
Road Schooling Top 10 List
1.Be Organized – I have to admit, as organized as I am in my world of motherly chores, I lack an understanding for teaching. That is why teachers go to school for a long time to learn how to teach, right?
I have given each of my kids a backpack with their years worth of curriculum in it. They know exactly where it is, how to find their last opened spot, and know where their pencils and pens are. We have shown them what a chapter looks like, how much is expected each day, and where to find the answers if they are stuck (at the back of the book). Keeping this portion of the project organized is the key to get them through the not so fun part of road schooling.
2.Be Consistent – It is hard for us to find consistency when we don’t know where we are going to be from one day to the next. For us the rule of thumb is every second day we are in one spot we take a moment to learn a few things. Some days we just focus on Math cards and Angelina’s site words. Other days we let Daniel have a leadership opportunity and teach Angelina from her workbooks. Lastly, we let them play educational video games. Repetition for the basics can work well for our kids. Flashcards for simple math, now that they understand the Montessori basics using beads, for us, is not a worry. Where once I was completely against memory parroting, I now understand that it does have its place. And for Daniel, knowing the answer gives him the confidence he needed to start expanding the concepts.
3.Make It Fun – Angelina loves to draw and color, so after she does a lesson she found not so fun, we give her a choice of what to do next. Still on topic, we let her natural interests direct the class. We do the same with Daniel. He wanted to learn about the galaxy, so we found an iPhone app that shows all the planets and constellations, moon phases and stars, and all you do is point it in any direction for their exact locations. Then we let them express what they learned. Sometimes they make up songs, draw, or play pretend. Learning can take many forms.
4.Listen To Your Child’s Interests – Daniel loves animals, so if we pass a place with a zoo or aquarium we usually stop. Angelina loves music, so we loaded her iPhone and iPod up with songs she loves to listen to. Then when we stop somewhere, we get out the iDock, and the kids put on dancing and singing performances for us.
5.Give Them Chores – Kids learn so much from us, and having responsibility in the home gives them a connection to us, and makes them feel proud. Our job as parents is not just teaching them math and spelling, but how to be good people. Chores give children an inner sense of what the family has to do to run smoothly. They have pride on completion of the task. They respect their things and us more when they know how long it takes to take care of them. With everyone responsible for their work, our family shares the responsibilities and the rewards.
6.Let Them Help You – This is a tough one for me. I have watched my friends let the kids stir the pancake batter, and it gets all over them and all over the kitchen with huge smiles on their faces. At the time when I tried, all I could think about was how long it will take me to clean up the mess, with barely enough time to get the wash, dinner and shopping done. In controlled circumstances, I have learned to let up. No I am not cool, but cooler. Daniel’s helped me with cookie dough and Angelina helps me; put ingredients in soup, and put groceries and laundry away. They make our beds, straighten the shoes, and hang up clothes left out. They learn about life from watching us, and they like it when we are pleased with them.
7.Use The Internet To Explore – Books can only give us so much information. If Daniel doesn’t understand his schoolwork, we try to explain it to him from different angles. If he still doesn’t understand something, we look it up on the Internet. We usually run off on different tangents, and start by looking up lets say the functions of a windmill and end up looking at cannons of medieval times, but they are still learning. And learning how to learn is a lesson in learning. It really isn’t about how much information you can retain anymore, but how quickly you can find the answers to the question at hand, and offer up your own solutions and opinions. Teaching our kids to think is the best education.
8.Maps Are Our Friends – Yesterday, Alfonz got our map of Europe and with Daniel and Angelina they charted our path out, thus far. They got to understand how large Europe is, how far we have traveled, and how many countries we have seen. Alfonz got them to remember different locations from memory, and it was impressive how and what they remembered from our trips when referring to each area.
9.Let Them Help In Making The Plans – In Verona there was a huge outdoor Roman Arena. If Daniel had his wish we would have spent hours in there, climbing all over every square inch of that place, where he would pretend he was Caesar defending his land. If only we had planned a little better, we would have had the time. By letting the kids help in the planning, we can work what we are seeing into their curriculum. They are already absorbing language, words they normally wouldn’t hear, they get to try different foods and see how other people live throughout Europe. Daniel wants a fishing rod as soon as we settle down. His birthday is around the corner, and it would make him so proud to catch our supper. In turn we will all learn how to catch a fish, kill a fish, gut a fish and cook it over an open fire in butter. Let’s hope it happens!
10. Give Them Praise – My kids are under a bit of stress on this trip. Everything is new, and different, comfort isn’t always #1 on our list, and we don’t always get to eat a hot meal. A little praise goes a long way on the road, to settle a mood, to let them know we understand that not everyday is a textbook day. I praise my kids when they think outside the box, or make up stories before bed or when they give up their snack to a homeless dog. I watch them and try hard not to miss an opportunity to give them praise, not only for their completed road school homework, but when they prove to be good people. We want them to grow up good and happy. Isn’t that our job?
We are learning as we go on this journey. I would love to hear your tips and tricks too! Any advice is welcome.