It has been said that there’s no greater teacher than that of experience. And when you think about it, that’s a tough point to argue. It’s one thing to sit down at a desk, open a book and read about a tree, with all its different parts, colors, and characteristics. And, maybe, you’ll remember what you read. But it’s a completely different thing to walk out into the woods and see that tree in person. You get a sense of the size of the trunk and branches, and how it seems they touch the sky. You can feel the texture of the bark as you glide your fingers across its surface. Its root system peeks through the ground of the forest floor, giving you an indication of the network of the life-giving structure below your feet. The tree’s leaves rustle as the breeze blows, bringing one floating slowly through the air into your hands. The tree is alive in front of you, and the experience has imprinted the details in your mind in a completely different way than words and pictures ever could.
Don’t get us wrong, books are essential tools for learning and education. And walking through the woods on a beautiful day is not going to teach someone how to read. But the point we are getting at here is that school does not have to happen in a building. In fact, when you travel, the world around you becomes the classroom, and the opportunities for learning becomes limitless!
We began our full-time travel journey in the fall of 2020. At the time our son was three and we planned to travel for a year to see how it went. So, when we packed up our Vacationer to seek adventures across the country, we didn’t know what the future held in terms of schooling for him. We had sent him to a Goddard School in MD from the time he was 3 months old and were very happy with his development through their program. They even provided us with some learning materials to use when we hit the road! So even from day one of our journey, we’ve worked with our son on some of the basics.
Fast-forward two and half years, Kade is now six years old and completing his kindergarten year of Road Schooling! What is Road Schooling, you might ask? Well, it is kind of like homeschooling. But when your home is equipped with wheels and the ability to transport you around the country, you call it Road Schooling. In our case we took it up a notch for Kade and call it Adventure School. Because life on the road is one adventure after another, and the experience of seeing so much of this beautiful country up close and in person has been one of the best teachers we could ever hope for as he grows up!
What we love most about road schooling our son is the freedom and flexibility it affords. We are able to decide the when, where, what and how for his learning. While no two weeks are the same, each one consists of learning both in and outside of our RV.
Within our Vacationer we were able to create a learning center maximizing two adjacent walls next to his bunk bed. In this area our son has a magnetic whiteboard for learning months, days of the week, keeping a calendar, letters and drawing. The other wall holds all of his books.
To help guide us, we chose a curriculum called The Good and The Beautiful which consists of course workbooks for all subjects. On days when using this program, our dinette provides a great workspace. Our kitchen space allows for numerous hands-on learning opportunities such as baking, crafting, experiments and building. Of course, some experiments are best tried outside where our camp mat and picnic table come in very handy. Outside our camp space alone, we are usually able to create scavenger hunts, learn about plants and bugs, incorporate art class with painting rocks or tie dying clothes. Our son also loves to help build fires, assist in upkeep projects like oil changes, and cook on our griddle.
Like we said, the freedom and flexibility give us so many opportunities to make his learning fun and creative. We are also able to evaluate where our son excels and where he needs to spend some extra time. And since we are the teachers solely focusing on him, we can speed up and slow down as we see fit. Each kid learns a little differently and being able to tailor Kade’s education experience to the way he absorbs knowledge best is key to his development.
When it comes to adventure days, we are usually hiking or on the water where we let our son guide the learning. He is naturally curious and wants to know about everything. When we don’t have the answers to his limitless questions, we use an outdoor identification app or the internet to find out. Many times, while searching for information about a new critter or plant, we end up learning something ourselves too!
While traveling through the country we also research the areas and towns in which we visit for unique learning opportunities and activities. Our son has participated in community homeschool days, joined swim lessons, soccer camps and ninja classes, been to a gator ranch, and received several junior ranger badges, just to name a few. Recently, while staying at an RV resort, we were able to immerse him in a bit of history by staying in a Conestoga Wagon and learning about pioneer life and the westward expansion on the Oregon Trail. To say our son has had, and is having, an incredible experience learning through Road School is an understatement. Not only is he learning to read and write and do math, but he’s learning about the world and environment around him…live and in living color. And that experience is a teacher that ranks among the best there is!
Living on the road in our Holiday Rambler has brought us so much joy and opened our eyes to so many amazing experiences! We are learning right along with our son, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. So, go get out there and explore the environment around you. Near or far, the experience will teach you more than you may expect!