We are book heavy in our curriculum. It’s really not good for traveling. Those families who full time travel have mostly moved to online curriculum or kindle versions. We are about 1/3 electronic. But we are still very book heavy. The most obvious way to travel with homeschooling is to go year round and when you find yourself out on a trip, take a break. But for us, we can’t simply take a break every 4 weeks when we go for crew change. If it’s a simple crew change, mostly, we will double up on Monday, Thursday, and Friday, as Tuesday and Wednesday are spent driving. And I really don’t like sitting cross legged for eight hours because the entire floor in front of me is piled high with books.
So, what to do when you’re on a week or more trip and you don’t want to take a break? First, most school is set on a weekly schedule that has a light day. Usually Fridays. Projects are turned in, tests are taken, you schedule your field trips, and in the case for any Well-Trained Mind student, you spend a day outside and journal about nature. For longer trips, the day spend in the car to get where you’re going, I use as my light day. A few notebooks, my laptop, and some pencils. Make sure you stop for longer breaks for lunches. Find a state park or a beach. Let them explore. When you get back into the car, hand out their nature notebooks and let them journal. At the very least, it means 30 minutes of no talking or whining! Tests have been given in the car, written or verbally for younger ones. And the long time spent in the car gives us more time to discuss what we’ve been learning about and let Daddy give some new fun facts we didn’t know about. We might talk about whether Pluto is a planet this month, or talk out exponents with our son who is great with math, but not really book math (he was able to find what the total cost, after tax, was at age 4, but when we started studying multiplication and decimals in school, he was lost until I explained what it meant and what the real work application was.) We’ve discussed how many wars were based solely on one man’s desire for more power. We’ve talked in circles around what Revelation might actually mean. We’ve critiqued books read, and paintings seen. Talk to your kids. Find out what they know and what they don’t. Find out what they like versus just what they are “good at”. Include them in trip planning, map reading, and budgeting for the trip itself. Discuss possible cultures you may encounter at your destination. Discuss differences in flora and fauna from where you live. These are all valuable. This is where the real learning comes in. This is where they can connect the dots of everything you’ve been making them memorize and recite and read and write. One other thing that we focus on in the car is music. We listen to a very wide variety of music. But we have these CD’s that are the life and story of famous classical composures. It’s one of those things that I rarely turn on while we are home, even though my children know the music very well because we listen to a lot of classical. So while we are in the car, I might take one of those hours and play one of the life stories. The other audio thing we listen to in the car is foreign language. At this point it’s getting a bit ridiculous for us because we’ve got three different foreign languages going. And the kids aren’t always tolerant of someone else’s language lessons. But we explain everyone will get their turn. One of the ways having three siblings makes you a bit more patient. You learn to wait.
During the stay part of our trip, we carry on much like when we are home. We have breakfast, do school, have lunch, and then the afternoons and evenings are free to sight see or just hang out by the pool. If there are extra projects for school, we will sometimes do them ahead, or after, the trip. This is partially for space…..I don’t want to bring an entire lab to a hotel room, and partially for time….big projects take up a lot of time and we’d rather be out seeing stuff. If we are planning on seeing something that will keep us out longer than dinnertime, I will just switch lunch and dinner. Have a big meal after homeschooling, pack up some sandwiches for dinner.
As a small anecdote, getting ready for this last trip to NOLA was stressful for me. The day before we left (Thursday) the kids were doing everything in their power to make school difficult. I finally closed the books and said “That’s it! We can do school in the car tomorrow!” Which we all know I hate to do and I’m betting they figured I’d ignore it and we would just double up on Monday. And I almost did. We did the nature journalling on the way, and talked in the car. But I dreaded having to bring a medium sized suitcase full of books into the car below my feet. But I guess God felt it was absolutely necessary to learn that day. We got to Baton Rouge and traffic stopped. I don’t mean stop and go. I mean stopped. We sat in one spot for an hour. There was a major accident and I-10 east was closed until they could recover everything and everyone. 15 minutes in, I got out of the truck, grabbed the suitcase, opened it up on the edge of the truck, and pulled out what we needed for the day. I got many curious looks from the cars around us. Probably because there was nothing much else to interest them. Either way, I got back into the car and started up school. We lowered the windows and turned off the engine (it’s a diesel…..read that $$$$$) and learned all about how atoms are NOT the smallest things and how every time someone finds something smaller, everyone else has to own up that they DIDN’T discover the smallest building blocks of all matter. By the time we got going again, I was able to put half the books back into the suitcase so it wasn’t quite as crowded.
Lesson: In life and in learning, if the tide takes you out, learn to roll with it.