This year has found us (ALL of us) putting a lot of plans on hold. Not just vacation plans, but school plans, too. Feels like we’ve been waiting for someone to give the all clear so we can put those old plans in motion. But what if instead we put new plans in motion now. There’s a lot to be learned from living in the right now, current conditions and all.
MEET THE ROADSCHOOLERS
We’d like to introduce you to some folks who are doing just that. They’ve brought along the kids and the curriculums, the beds, books, dogs, bikes, roadmaps, and of course, the kitchen sink. It’s called roadschooling. And it’s not just a lifestyle option for Captain Fantastic in the movies. It’s a real option for real families, right now. And these families were kind enough to give us a peek into their roadschooling lives.
“My husband and I are traveling with our three kids in a RoadTrek. They are 3, 5 (kindergarten), and 9 (4th grader). We’ve only been road schooling since mid September, but we plan on continuing until at least next summer.” – Tara Shambaugh, @theclassroomlesstraveled
“We have two boys; ages 15 and 13. We have been roadschooling for almost 2 years in our converted school bus.” – Tina Wann, @weliveonabus
“3 young road students, road schooling now for one month. We are schooling in a Ford E350 Van and a vintage 1973 24′ Argosy Airstream.” – Melanie Raver, @ourtinywander
“We have been traveling and roadschooling our children, Jackson (6), Maeve (4), and Margot (1) for 6 months and are taking off in our 2019 Mercedes Sprinter 2500 4×4 this week!” – Matt and Sarah Elder, @eldersaway
“My husband Mario and I have 2 kids (5-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy). We have been road-schooling all throughout Preschool & Kindergarten. We have been traveling with our kids since they were babies. We just rebuilt/renovated a four-wheel camper. We like the flexibility of being able to use it where 4WD is needed and it works for us right now while the kids are little.” – Gaby, @journeyandlearn
LIVE AND LEARN
Why would a family decide to squish all together into a smaller space and buck the status quo of what school looks like? We wanted to know why these families decided to trade in the stationary school life for the open road and open-ended learning.
“Like many families, 2020 rocked whatever sort of plans we thought we had. Living full time in a van, roadschooling our children, and seeing as much of the U.S. as we could was always something we had dreamed about, but thought it would be farther in our future. With the current state of our country and the pandemic, nervousness about the uncertainty of what an in-person school year would look like, and many other personal reasons, we decided to take the leap and live the life we had been dreaming about.” – @eldersaway
“Our decision to road school all started when we took a road trip in a rented camper van during the summer to Olympic National Park. My 4th grader said he didn’t want to do distance learning and wanted me to homeschool him. I told him to just try it out, thinking it would be fine. However, after the first day, I knew homeschooling was going to be the best option for my children. We just had to make a move. So we did; we moved out of our house and bought a van within two weeks of pulling our kids out of distance learning. We had been talking about moving out of the Silicon Valley for awhile and this was just the excuse we were looking for.” – @theclassroomlesstraveled
“I grew up traveling a lot and saw the power of road-schooling and world-schooling. Many of the most important things I have learned in life have been learned outside the classroom. My love for this world, people, cultures, nature, and history among other things was developed by experiencing it firsthand.” – @journeyandlearn
“We wanted less “stuff” and more “experiences”! I felt life slipping by a bit and feeling like I wanted to spend more time traveling with our young kiddos. We took two years slowly renovating a vintage trailer. We left our 3000 sq. ft home for a 200 sq ft. home on the road. We realized with life on the road traditional school would just not work. Therefore schooling had to go on the road with us!” – @ourtinywander
“In 2016 we spent Christmas Day standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial. A trip to Washington DC was our Christmas present to the boys. The next day, we stood in front of the original Declaration of Independence. Rylee had tears in his eyes as he looked at that old piece of paper and said, “Mom, we live in a great country.” I wish I had that moment on video so you could see the guard’s face. We were all a little stunned by his emotional response and it still gives me chills. I have homeschooled this kid since Pre-K. I have been with him through almost every learning milestone in his education. I have seen him light up as he grasps concepts that were too hard a month earlier and I’ve seen his growing excitement over things like Snap Circuits. I realized, as we looked at that document, that the experiences would always outweigh the words in a book. I can never recreate that moment in Washington DC, but I can give him more experiences. In 2017, we made the decision to pull Elijah out of public school so we could transition to this new life. We knew then that we were going to travel full-time.” – @weliveonabus
FINDING A RHYTHM
How does a roadschooling family configure the shared space and consider curriculums? There is no magic one-size-fits-all formula for how to create the ideal roadschooling environment. Creativity, flexibility, and patience come into play as families determine what makes for the best spaces and rhythms for learning on the road.
OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!
Of course a big benefit of taking school on the road is that there’s more opportunity to get out and experience life’s lessons in real time, in person and up close. So is roadschooling all one big happy field trip? We were curious how families incorporate online, curriculum-led learning with hands-on, child-led learning.
THE ROADSCHOOL LESS TRAVELED
Is roadschooling for everyone? Is it for you?
Roadschooling might be considered an “outside the box” idea when it comes to education, but the truth is families have been getting creative with education for generations. The most difficult piece might be deciding whether or not to give it a try. And we get it, it’s not like sampling a new kind of cheese. It’s trying on a new kind of lifestyle. Renting a camper van first is like getting to take the field trip first, and then you can decide if you want to enroll in the “school” of longer-term road life. Our roadschooling families have some tips to share with other families who may be considering trading in the stationary school for a mobile classroom.
“Research is so important! Doing your research, understanding the roadschooling and homeschooling laws for your state, is essential. Some states require a lot more than others so you have to make sure you are following the guidelines. Along with that, researching your travel destinations, having a plan for where you want to explore will make the days flow so much easier. We have found that if we don’t have a good plan we end up doing nothing and sometimes feel like we wasted an opportunity. That is not to say that there needs to be some great experience every day, but researching the area, finding local parks, zoos, science centers, walking trails, and more are all things that can enhance your children’s learning! Also, there are lots of Facebook groups full of helpful people willing to share their experiences! You can (most likely) find these groups by searching “roadschool + your area”, or searching more broadly across the globe! There are many World Schooling groups that we have joined full of information we hope to use someday. We have made so many connections and found many tremendous resources through these groups.” – @eldersaway
“Spend less time worrying about what standards you need to meet and more time finding ways to turn the things they love into educational opportunities. I’ve sat through a lot of lessons that I don’t remember because I was too busy writing a story in my mind. Playing to strengths and interests shouldn’t be overlooked.” – @weliveonabus
“My number one piece of advice for someone looking to take homeschool on the road would be RELAX! I know I was SO worried in the beginning of what needed to be done and when and how, but now I am determined to make the program work for our schedule and OUR life. I think there is SO much benefit in traveling and experiencing new things, there is SO much learning in that. So my advice is JUST CHILL and the learning will come!” – @ourtinywander
“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and enjoy the journey. Try to connect with families online that are also roadschooling so you don’t feel “alone” and can share tips and challenges with each other. Beautiful friendships can be formed this way for the parents and the kids. When I roadschool, I always ask myself “What is something that I wish I could have learned or experienced when I was little (age of your children) and how can I make it happen for my kids?” I also like to ask myself “What can they learn on the road that they cannot learn in a classroom”. Don’t miss this opportunity of roadschooling by trying to imitate what they would be doing AT school. Because then, what is the point? Finally, enjoy this time as a family and just look everywhere for opportunities of learning as you go. You can have a curriculum as a guide but don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things.” – @journeyandlearn
“Taking this year to spend as a family on the road has brought us closer and given us so much more opportunity for uninterrupted quality time. Since schools and a lot of the extra curricular programs were shut down we decided this was the best way to take advantage of these unprecedented times. If anyone is even considering doing something like this, I really recommend just going for it! If you have any reservations, rent a camper van and see if it’s for you, but if you have an adventurous and flexible spirit, I have no doubt that this could be an awesome experience for your family!” – @theclassroomlesstraveled
Rent A Classroom
There’s no way to know until you know, ya know? GoCamp has camper vans in all shapes and sizes and they’re ready for you and your little (or big) learners to head out on the field trip of a lifetime. If you’re not sure what kind of camper van would work best for your brood, please reach out! We know camper van rentals better than just about anyone. Go on, test us. 😊