On the Road: Traveling with Kids
Family on Bikes recently shared with us how they homeschool their sons while biking the Pan-America Highway.
The Hoffmeister Family (4Suitcases) had a similar experience homeschooling their daughters while on their 9-month world adventure. They embraced the idea of homeschooling so much that they continue to homeschool their daughters now that they have returned home. They share with us what that experience was like.
What made you decide to travel with your children?
Well, it just didn’t seem like a good idea to leave them behind! Seriously, one of our main goals was to spend more time together as a family, instead of always being off in our separate worlds of school & work. Besides, we think all the benefits of taking a break and traveling apply to kids every bit as much as they apply to adults.
Did you look at this as an educational experience first and foremost? If so, why?
It’s funny – both before and after our trip people kept telling us what a tremendous education we were giving the kids, but we didn’t really think of it that way when we started out. Our main goal was just to have a bunch of new and interesting experiences. The education that went along with that was sort of a bonus – for all of us.
Were your children homeschooled before your trip? How was the transition to homeschooling?
No, we had been considering it, but let the trip force us to take the plunge. We were re-thinking our entire way of life and learning to look at education differently was just another part of that process. It was probably harder for us than for the kids. All those traditional ideas about school were much more ingrained in our minds than theirs, you know?
How did you prepare your lesson plans?
We didn’t make any formal lesson plans or other elaborate preparations. Our goal was not to re-create the classroom abroad with days full of “schoolwork”, and we did not want to lug around a suitcase full of books or depend on good internet connections for an online program. We decided a simpler approach would be better suited to travel: Math, Spelling, and Language Arts workbooks with family fiction and History read-together time. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
What kind of unexpected educational lessons did you find on the road?
The biggest surprise was how the trip shaped our ideas about learning and helped us define the kind of education we want our kids to have. Now the idea of putting the girls back in school is almost as strange as the thought of pulling them out used to be.
How did the girls adapt to life and learning on the road?
They were amazing, adapting much better and more quickly than we expected. Not having fixed schedules and lesson plans probably helped a lot with that.
What recommendations would you have for people who want to travel with their children but are afraid of taking them out of school?
Start by defining exactly what it is you’re afraid of. Are you worried about them “falling behind” or missing their friends? Whatever you’re worried about, there are plenty of ways to deal with it and lots of other families who can tell you how they overcame it. You might be surprised that some of the obstacles and hurdles you’ve imagined turn out not to exist.
You decided when you returned home that you would continue homeschooling. How has that been going?
Even better than on the road, especially since we’ve all grown more comfortable with doing things our own way and at our own pace. It’s been really rewarding to see the girls take a more active role in their own education. They continue to amaze us!