Roadschooling 101: Homeschooling on the Road

Roadschooling - Learning about Mt. Rushmore

Roadschooling is Homeschooling on the Road

Do you wish you could travel full-time but have children in school and are concerned about their education? Have you heard about homeschooling but are unsure of how to make it work on the road? Many traveling families choose to educate using a form of homeschooling called roadschooling, which is the term used by those living, learning and traveling, primarily in an RV.

Like homeschooling, roadschooling can range from strict “school at home” (full curriculum for every subject, sitting at a table at specific times of day with a parent playing the role of teacher) to unschooling (a philosophy of child rearing that eschews all coercion, including in education). Most roadschoolers fall between those extremes, and nearly all add a component of learning based on local resources as they travel.

Roadschooling Learning at a National Park

An RVing lifestyle lends itself to a more relaxed, organic style of learning. Some families use traditional curriculum three or four days a week, with the other days being set aside for field trips. Other families use an interest-led style and base their curriculum on the area they are traveling to, using the local attractions as a springboard for all areas of study. The more child-led and unschooling families learn through daily life, along with visiting attractions that pique their interest. Often children will want to learn more about a particular topic that was introduced, and parents will facilitate that learning, using resources on an attraction’s website, ebooks and materials ordered online.

While it is understandable to have concerns about moving into an RV and traveling the country with school age children, the benefits are numerous.

RV Travel Opens Up Many More Opportunities For Learning

The biggest thing that distinguishes roadschooling from traditional homeschooling is the ability to take advantage of the traveling lifestyle. While there are obvious learning opportunities like National Parks, science museums, zoos and historic sites, it is important to also look for hidden learning opportunities. When traveling, children can plan routes and navigate, research small towns passed through, call campgrounds to make reservation and write emails or blog posts to update family and friends on their adventures. Living in an RV also provides a unique opportunity for learning home and auto repair and maintenance. Even young children can have moving day responsibilities, while teens can learn all aspects of RV care. While families full-timing is becoming increasingly common, RV parks are often filled with retired people, many of whom have skills and knowledge they would love to pass on to interested children.

Roadschooling at Gettysburg
Learning about the Civil War from reenactors at Gettysburg National Park

Is Roadschooling Legal?

Possibly the most frequently asked question by those researching roadschooling is about legality and proper procedures. This varies by state, with some requiring no reporting and others requiring a variety of recording keeping and test-taking. Many full-time RVers with children choose to domicile in Texas or Florida. In addition to the reasons many RVers without children choose these states, parents often pick Texas because of its lack of mandated reporting or Florida because it offers umbrella schools, requiring roadschooling parents to merely report attendance four times a year to maintain compliance.

Where do you store all the books?

Another common question asked by prospective roadschoolers is “where do you store ALL the books and curriculum?” which is generally answered by experienced roadschoolers the same as most “where do you store” questions – don’t look for storage, look to minimize. You need much less than you think. The most valuable homeschooling resource is a reliable internet connection, a laptop, an e-reader, and a compact printer. Thrift stores are a great place to purchase books and then donate them back. Connecting to other roadschoolers is a great way to share supplies, either when meeting up or by mail. Some people leave books and supplies with family who periodically mail boxes. Where to store the books and supplies you do have will vary depending on RV layout, but common places are the cabinets above the couch, in the dinette benches, and under the bed.

Roadschooling Group Learning at RV Park

How can you afford to roadschool?

Are you wondering how families afford to roadschool? All these books, electronics, and admissions to attractions can add up. As mentioned previously, books can often be purchased used or exchanged. A simple tablet can be purchased for around $50 and used as an e-reader and for online learning. 

Free Roadschool Learning Resources

There are free resources online for nearly any topic or location:
Khan Academy for academic subjects
Fulltime Families Roadschooling Guides for learning more about the places visited.

National Park America the Beautiful pass, allowing a family to visit all of the U.S. National Parks for only $80 a year.  Many roadschooling families believe that this is the  most important membership.
The Every Kid in a Park program allows fourth graders to get a free America the Beautiful pass for their family.

Reciprocal Memberships

Many museums and zoos offer memberships with free or reduced cost admission to other museums and zoos around the country for $50 to $150 a year. Here are some of the reciprocal organizations families find the most valuable:
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)
The Association of Children’s Museums
North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM), which has mostly art and history museums
Time Travelers, which is primarily history museums.

Will my child get enough socialization?

Socializing is often a primary concern for roadschooling parents. Unlike homeschooling in a sticks-n-bricks, children can’t join sports teams, take weekly classes or attend co-ops. The internet allows for children to maintain contact with friends but spending time in person is also important. The winter is a great time to make and spend times with friends, as most RVers tend to spend time in Florida or the southwest. From December through March there are usually 50 to 100 families wintering in the Thousand Trails parks of central Florida. Some families enjoy traveling with other families throughout the year or meeting up for a period of time alternating with time spent as a family.

Roadschool socialization at Thousand Trails park in Florida

Preparing them for their future

Frequently, parents feel comfortable roadschooling younger children but worry about their ability to properly prepare their older children for life after high school. Online classes can fulfill the need for middle and high school age students to study higher level subjects while still traveling. There are a variety of private options, paid for by families or the home school, depending on state laws. There are also online public schools, such as Florida Virtual School, which provides public school curriculum and teachers completely online for state residents. Both Florida and Texas (along with several other states) offer free or reduced dual enrollment, allowing high school students to take college courses online, earning college and high school credits simultaneously.

Roadschooling isn't as scary as it seems and you aren't alone!

While it is understandable to have concerns about moving into an RV and traveling the country with school age children, the benefits are numerous. Families grow closer, siblings become friends, and all members of the family will form new and diverse friendships. Children (and parents) will learn from seeing and doing as they explore the country and spend time with people of different ages and backgrounds. There is no education like a roadschool education, so get out there and start exploring…with the kids!

Roadschooling 101: Homeschooling on the Road 1

Author

Jill Denkins - Owner of Fulltime Families

Jill has been full-time RVing for 5 years with her husband, Dustin, and their four children (ages 12, 11, 9 and 5). Dustin and Jill are the owners of Fulltime Families, a community that connects and supports traveling families with family events, education and discounts. Find out more at www.fulltimefamilies.com or join them at www.facebook.com/groups/FulltimeFamilies

2 Responses to “Roadschooling 101: Homeschooling on the Road

  • Jill Denkins
    Mary Lou
    7 months ago

    Great information! My daughter has always wanted me to homeschool and I always said I would, if I could make an income while doing it. Well, we finally have an opportunity to get started and she brought up traveling the country while we do it! I had no idea “road schooling” was even a thing until I started searching! Great information in this article and not the same old info as every other article! Thanks a bunch!

  • Jill Denkins
    Albert V.
    3 months ago

    Very informative and great advice.

    I am still in the researching phase and this article is a wealth of good intentioned material.

    Thank you

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