Turning an RV into a mobile classroom for homeschooled children creates infinite possibilities for hands-on learning. Following in the footsteps of parents in the U.S., more Canadian families are choosing to homeschool. Sometimes that choice occurs as a result of a parent’s job demands. When Mom or Dad must spend a lot of time on the road, the flexibility of homeschooling gives families more options in reconciling job requirements with a family’s needs. If Dad can’t be with the family, then perhaps the family can be with Dad. A recreational vehicle is one way to solve that problem.
At other times, parents choose to take a road trip with their children with the stated purpose of creating more opportunities for real-world learning experiences. Homeschoolers have the freedom to undertake educational journeys, whether it’s a one-time learning opportunity, or a lifestyle built around creating new ways to enrich a child’s learning experience.
Whether you are a full-time homeschooling parent, or a Mom or Dad who takes a road trip in order to give your child an opportunity to see the real world up close, here are seven tips on how to turn an RV into a mobile classroom.
1. Children thrive on routines. Experienced parents know children may not appreciate the value of exotic locales, and educational, hands-on experiences. That’s particularly true when a child’s biorhythms are off kilter, due to travelling. Make sure you park your recreational vehicle at the same time each evening. Bedtimes should be enforced, with only the occasional exception allowed. Even while on the road, don’t use television or videos as a sitter. In order to make the most of learning opportunities during your RV trip, engage your children in conversations about what they experienced each day.
2. Don’t travel too far in one day. Some children are more prone to motion sickness than others, and you may need to take that into consideration when planning your trip. While it’s often true that homeschooled children are very productive, as they can work through lessons at their own pace, don’t expect to drive your RV long distances each day. Plan for a leisurely pace.
3. Build-in opportunities for hands-on learning. If you are taking a family RV excursion during a summer or holiday break, by all means take advantage of the rich opportunities for hands-on experiential learning. Children’s museums are a great way to expand their horizons. Some notable ones near the U.S. border: The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, in Portland; the Pacific Science Center, in Seattle, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology in Troy, New York.
4. Sharpen math skills. A recreational vehicle trip offers abundant opportunities to hone mathematical skills. Have children calculate the estimated travel time between destinations, the latitude and longitude of landmarks, or the miles per gallon. For the fulltime homeschooling family, a month-long RV journey has the makings for a semester’s worth of traditional schooling, as children thrive in an experiential environment. Be sure to build in opportunities for hands-on learning.
5. Visit historical sites. History comes to life when children have the opportunity to visit historic sites. Before you start up the RV, make a list of places that are on your journey, including any designated historical sites. There are around 1,000 National Historic Sites in Canada. Don’t forget to put science and industry museums on your itinerary. Museums with science and technology exhibits offer children bountiful hands-on learning opportunities. Here’s just a few of the museums worth a stop on your RV trip: The Aero Space Museums of Calgary, Glenbow Museum, Royal Tyrrell Museum, and Banff National Park Museum. An RV journey allows a homeschooling family the opportunity to fully peruse exhibits over several days. Young children, in particular, rarely have the stamina to appreciate the extent of a museum’s exhibits in a one-day visit.
6. Consider charitable opportunities. Few homeschooling families are self-serving. Most devote a substantial amount of time to charitable endeavors. Some families plan RV trips expressly for the purpose of helping those in need. When a tornado touches down, or a hurricane destroys an oceanfront community, a homeschooling family with an RV is ideally positioned for rapid mobilization to bring assistance to a stricken community. Homeschooling fathers with expertise in the building trades can travel to a suffering community and help victims reclaim their lives.
7. Don’t forget learning opportunities for teens. Homeschooling families often have children with ages that span multiple stages of childhood. Sometimes it’s all too easy to turn the oldest homeschooled child into a fulltime babysitter. When planning your recreational-vehicle journey, make sure to build in activities and excursions that are age appropriate for teens.