Let me just start by saying we are not a traveling family. We have not sold our home and piled into the RV for a year long journey around the country! Although there are many days I think this would be great, the type A in me always wins out, and alas we nestle into the predictability of suburbia each night! We do however seem to venture out on vacation each year. Typically two weeks of sun and sand are penned into our calendar!
Given that we homeschoolers have a quirky little habit of believing there is learning to be had everywhere , and in almost (if not all) situations, our family usually takes our learning on the road with us. That is not to say that our usual school work comes with us, but that we look for opportunities to learn and explore along the way. Last year after returning from Florida, I wrote a post titled Random Things We Learned on Our Trip to Florida. It was comprised of things we saw, tried to do, or talked about along the way. It is amazing what you just stumble upon as you drive down the road of life.
These are the things I would recommend for taking your learning on the road:
1. Look for places near where you are traveling, or along the way, to explore. Look to include things you wouldn’t have access to near your home. Maybe there is some historical site to visit, or a beach, mountain, desert, aquarium, zoo, park, ball field, etc.
2. Remember that learning happens anywhere, anytime. Keep your eyes open for things around you. A great way to do this is to keep an “exploring” journal. Each child can keep a log of things they see that they want to inquire about. Maybe they see a building, a landmark, an animal or a flower that they are unfamiliar with. They can draw a picture, write a description or the name if there is a visible sign. Then they can look it up when they have access to a library or internet.
3. If you are taking a trip that you know will include something specific, such as Washington D.C., Yellowstone National Park, a forest or beach, then be prepared. Do some research and reading with the kids before you go. For example, before we head out on a road trip our son likes to get the state books out of the library for each state we will be driving through.
4. Take books along relating to things you might see. Field journal books are great references for flowers, trees, animals, shells, etc. that you might see along the way. When we headed to the beach I stocked up on seashell and ocean life resources for the kids to read and reference as we found things during our stay.
5. To combat the kids restless car syndrome, consider audio books with the corresponding paper books for them to follow along. Print out scavenger hunt sheets to keep them engaged and looking out at the scenery as you drive. Include coloring sheets, word searches, and license plate check lists too. Mad Libs are always a car pleaser in our family!
7. Print out maps for them to keep track of the roads you drive, the cities you pass, or the states you enter. For smaller ones just have them color the states, for older ones you can print out more detailed maps to include cities and major roads.
8. Let your older children help you plan your trip, either by helping to choose places to go, or to help navigate along the journey.
Heidi is a 35 year old, happily married wife to one self proclaimed computer geek. Through their 14 years of marriage they have added 3 children: Chloe (12), Jayden (9), and Ava (5), as well as 2 dogs: Muffin and Oscar, to the mix. When not totally engrossed in homeschooling, or taxi service for the children Heidi likes to read, blog at Starts At Eight, and chronicle their lives in photos, as well as working at new hand projects like gardening, knitting, and crochet. You can also catch her on Twitter, and Facebook!