When I began homeschooling my sons over five years ago at the ages of 5 and 8, I had no idea we’d turn into roadschoolers. In fact, homeschooling wasn’t on my radar at all until I was out of options and desperate for a situation that would work for my quirky kids. Because our transition to homeschooling was fairly sudden, I didn’t enter into it with preconceived notions or even much of a plan.
As we muddled our way through the first year or two in terms of figuring out how to address academics, we continued with our usual nature walk day trips and weekend camping trips to our state parks, things we’d been doing since they were babies. But no longer being tied to a rigid school schedule, we had to ability to leave a littler earlier and stay a little longer. Over time, our trips slowly evolved in length and scope.
I’ve seen these experiences expand the boys’ view of the world around them. It shows up in their artwork and stories. When they read or hear about places we’ve been, they have a real connection, real memories, and real experiences to draw from. It has transformed their knowledge in a way that detached learning cannot. They not only know what these swamps, mountains, beaches, and deserts look like, but they also know how they smell, feel, and sound… a more complete understanding.
On top of the knowledge of history and landscape they now have, our travels have taught them the life skills of flexibility and problem-solving, open-mindedness and self-awareness, perseverance and limits. When you’re on the road far from home, the world is very real and it requires resourcefulness to navigate. It’s a very important kind of education that isn’t taught alongside history, math, and language arts in schools. There’s no replacement for being out in the world… doing, seeing, and living. One of my favorite sayings now as a road-schooler is that books and computers are portable, historic sites and natural wonders are not.
For me, this journey has been surprise in so many ways. Not only that we’re on it at all, but that the joys and fulfillment that come with giving your children the world is so worth the energy and effort it takes to make it happen.
Val Joiner is an outdoor and educational travel blogger based in Roswell, GA. The former geologist turned road-schooling mom chronicles her adventures at Val in Real Life. When Val isn’t on the road with her two boys, she can frequently be found honing her Southern Appalachian Naturalist skills in the Great Smoky Mountains.