If you are like most parents, one of your biggest concerns is your children’s wellbeing. Not only do you want your child to be emotionally healthy, but you want them to be well educated. As soon as you pull your child out of school or decide to bypass school and hit the road, you are suddenly surrounded by parenting “experts” telling you want you need to do. And like most parents, you probably start questioning what you are doing.
I would like to encourage you to take a deep breath. Ignore all the people outside of your roadschooling family and think about your learning goals. Take a look at your children, see what they like, what are they interested in, how can you make this roadschooling journey the best that it can be for them.
My children, ages 7 & 10, have never been to school and have been Roadschooling for almost 4 years. My husband and I have struggled with the idea that our kids aren’t learning enough or falling behind or won’t be able to integrate back into the school system if we ever decide to go a more traditional route. But you know what? We have seen our children learn to read and write, develop their artistic skills, venture down amazing learning paths without “school” or even a set roadschool schedule.
A lot of people have a hard time letting go of what they should be doing versus what flows naturally with their children. When you are RVing fulltime, there are so many days aren’t neatly packaged to include a “school day”. There are travel days, sick days, stormy days, days when you just want to be outside all day and go for a hike, and days when you find the perfect family at the campground and everyone plays for days on end. A lot of RV living is experiencing the moments as they come and if you are all stressed out about “school time” you may miss these moments.
So how do you move beyond the stress of balancing “school time” with your RV lifestyle?
Letting Go of the Fear
The first big step is to let go of the fear. It’s what’s holding you back. It’s what holds us all back. If you really take a hard look at your fear, you will probably realize that it isn’t based on anything concrete.
Unschooling isn’t unlearning or uninvolved or uneducated. It simply means that you, as a parent, support your child’s interests, talents, curiosities. Your role changes from attempting to impart knowledge into an unwilling or uninterested child to someone who sees a fire in their child and helps keep that fire alive.
Unschooling doesn’t mean you can’t use workbooks or curriculum or take tests. You can as long as your child enjoys them. My son loves quizzes and trivia challenges. My daughter loves worksheets. However, if I bring them out and they aren’t interested and I make them complete the quizzes and worksheets, then this is not unschooling.
For example, your child looks out the window and sees mule deer grazing on the grass near your RV. There’s your in. Start talking about the deer. Why they are there. What they are eating. Depending on the child’s age, you can discuss digestion, how they react to weather patterns, prey/predator scenarios, what we can do ensure healthy deer populations.
You don’t have to have the answers. Just have the conversations. You can grab your phone/computer/books and look up the answers. It’s less about right and wrong and more about thinking, expressing those thoughts, and then finding the answers. It’s about becoming researchers.
What About the Basics, Like Reading and Math?
Parent’s get all stressed out thinking their kids aren’t going to learn to read or struggle with math. I want you to let go of that stress.
Your child lives in the modern world, where reading happens everywhere and is necessary to function. My son rarely sits down with a book to read, but he reads all day. Every time he plays a game (video or board) or messages with friends and family and every time we are a museum or nature center and he reads the displays. Reading is reading is reading.
Math is another subject that can be learned in everyday life. Cut those sandwiches in 4’s and talk about fractions. Cook with your kids and do measurements. Take a measuring tape with you everywhere and just measure things. Make estimates before, explain why those estimates were made, and then measure the item and see how close you were. It becomes a game. If your kids are older, you can do the same only use real-life examples that are harder.
Some examples: Estimate fuel costs and MPG so they can see how your vehicle calculates this value. Estimate miles your family will cover in 3 hours. Calculate how much your grey and black will last if you skip showers and boondock for 4 days.
Of course, every state has homeschool requirements. (Well, maybe not Texas.) So how do you stay legal when you are traveling throughout the United States? How do you prove your kids are learning and that your family follows these homeschool requirements when you aren’t following a set curriculum or don’t have workbooks to show?
First, know what the homeschool laws are in your home state and follow those (Click here for a handy map). Next, be aware of the laws in the states you’re traveling to. If you are there for more than 30 days, you are technically required to follow the laws in that state.
Now that you know what the laws are, how do you document your Roadschool journey when you are embracing unschooling? I recommend maintaining a simple spreadsheet like the one in the photo below.
Document your activities and fit them into the appropriate subject/skill required by the school board. Keep photos, videos, notes of activities you have done. Find an unschool-friendly homeschool evaluator in your hometown. Make the evaluation part of the appointments you conduct each year to maintain your home state status.
Another option, the one my family uses, is to enroll your children in an umbrella school. Depending on the umbrella school, they may even maintain all the records you need.
Need more help Embracing Unschooling on your Roadschool Journey? Here are some helpful articles:
About The Author: Jessica Meinhofer
I’m a Latina blogging, YouTubing, RVing, roadschooling mama of two. My magnificent hubby has agreed to this crazy and fun adventure. Together we run Exploring the Local Life. It’s all about RVing, but it’s not always rainbows and campfires. It’s real life every day as we navigate love, unschooling, and breaking free from the mold in our 26ft home on wheels. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here or follow us on Instagram here.