On the Road: Traveling with Kids

Family on Bikes recently shared with us how they homeschool their sons while biking the Pan-America Highway.

[singlepic=1727,300,,,right]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?

[singlepic=1725,250,,,left]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.

[singlepic=1724,250,,,right]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!

Other comments

7 Comments on "On the Road: Traveling with Kids"

  1. Sherry Ott on Mon, 15th Mar 2010 1:58 pm 

    Since I’m a home schooling novice (and have trouble grasping the non-traditiona classroom), can you tell us more about exactly how you go about finding books for the home schooling courses and what books you recommend? Any websites you recommend in order to get started?

  2. Marc on Wed, 17th Mar 2010 12:26 pm 

    Hi Sherry! We’re still novices, too – and after months of agonizing over what books and curricula to use, we finally realized we were making it too complicated. The writings of John Holt really helped me wrap my head around non-traditional approaches and help me get past some of my hangups. Highly recommended!

    The only formal curricula we’re using right now are math-u-see, which is especially worth a look for kids who find math intimidating, and Rosetta Stone Homeschool edition for Spanish. Both are a little pricey, but so well-designed they require very little work on our part!

    Another great website the kids learn a lot from is brainpop.com (they have a free trial if you want to check it out).

    Though we generally avoid textbooks, Half Price Books (or other used bookstores) can be a great resource for letting the kids find stuff that interests them from the “educational” section. The girls like Susan Wise Bauer’s “Story of the World” series for history.

    Hope that helps. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

  3. Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers on Sun, 21st Mar 2010 4:09 pm 

    Fascinating interview! It sounds like the kind of thing that so many of us only dream about. What memories must have been created for the Hoffmeister family. Thanks for submitting this post to the Homeschool Showcase. I loved reading it!

  4. Pamela on Mon, 22nd Mar 2010 11:15 am 

    We’ve always been a homeschooling family, and love to travel- the world around us is our classroom. We are having to make do with mini adventures for now (as many as possible) Thankfully, there are so many beautiful places to see and fun things to do within a few hours to a few days travel. We’re learning what we can on the way, and still dreaming and scheming towards seeing more and more of the wonderful world in the future. Hope you continue to enjoy your homeschooling journey- it’s a wonderful life!

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  7. soultravelers3 on Sat, 22nd May 2010 6:16 pm 

    Thanks for this! Traveling with kids and homeschooling on the road is so much easier & cheaper than most people realize! I’ve never met a family who did extended travel that wasn’t always way ahead of their classes when and if they returned to school.

    We’ve been on an open ended, non stop world tour since 2006 & it has been the best possible education for our child who was 5 when we began & soon will be 10. We’re monolinguals raising a very fluent trilingual & tri-literate who speaks many languages & we use a combination of homeschool, virtual lessons ( like piano, violin & Chinese with teachers on another continent) and some local foreign schools for deep immersion into a language & culture.

    Schools are dying as many experts like Seth Godin point out, partly because they are still teaching kids for a good job in the 1950’s, but our 21st century global citizens need something quite different in this changing world.

    Travel and education are a fantastic way to go. I write extensively on this subject and have connected with some of the top innovators in education through our travels because it is a passion of mine.

    Just as the new economy is forcing people to think outside of the box with careers, we must do the same with schools. By the end of this decade 60% of ALL schools will be virtual. Today you can work & school ANY where in the world, enjoy your life more at a slower pace while traveling the world.

    The rules are changing & travel and schooling are …and will continue to be greatly changed by this new way of being.

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