At first glance the terms “hitting the road” and “hitting the books” might appear mutually exclusive. But if you home school your children and have access to a motor home, read on.
Your One Room School House on Wheels
One of major concerns of parents who decide to home school their children is that their child is not exposed to the wide array of mental stimuli encountered by children who participate in a more conventional education. Children who go to public and even private schools are exposed to many different cultures, personalities and diverse beliefs. However, children schooled in the home sometimes are not exposed to a wide variety of other children. Co-operative home schooling, which brings a number of families together to share the work in educating their children, helps somewhat but home schooled children still, may not experience the plethora of mental stimuli experienced by their more traditionally schooled counterparts. One way to ensure that your child has access to these stimuli is to pack up your motor home and hit the road.
As you head down the highway in your one room school house on wheels, opportunities for teaching abound. In addition to the regular daily lesson plan, you can incorporate trip specific lessons into the daily work. For example, the math lesson begins when you stop at the neighborhood filling station to top off your tank. Consult the owners’ manual of your motor home and find out the capacity in gallons of your fuel tank. If age and grade appropriate have your young student convert this measurement from gallons to liters. For younger children, a fun activity is to let them watch the pump through the RV window and count the gallons or even tenths of gallons that pour into your motor homes fuel tank. Of course with the current price of gasoline, this activity will be much more fun for them than for you.
Once you’ve filled your tank, get out the map and sit with your student to study your route. Consult your motor home’s manual again and find how many miles per gallon you can expect to get. Help your young student compose a formula to find how far down the planned route you’ll be able to travel before your motor home requires fuel again. You can help your child use the map to help navigate as you travel along. Plan a side trip at the spur of the moment. Ask your child to tell you how this side trip will affect your timetable and fuel bill?
Plan your trip so that you follow an historical route. Follow the Trail of Tears, maybe the Oregon Trail. Travel the dusty path the cowboys rode in cattle drives from Texas to Dodge City, Kansas. If you’ve got the time, follow the route of Lewis and Clark or, explore the vast expanse of the Louisiana Purchase. What ever path you choose to follow, make sure you have plenty of supplemental materials for your young student to study. Many motor home parks have high speed internet available to their campers. At the end of each day, have your child connect to the Internet and gather information about the history of the places you’ve visited.
Take a trip through Appalachia. Venture some distance from the Interstate into the heart of some small town. Stop at a small store or local diner. Observe the people who live and work there. Listen to their accents or, eavesdrop on a conversation. There is no better way to discover how other people live than to explore these microcosms of America. You might even want to contact local parents who also home school their children and arrange a visit to learn more about each other and compare home school curriculums.
Many home schooling co-operatives hold events at various motor home parks to compare and refine home school curriculums and provide new experiences for their home schooled students. An Internet search for these home school meet ups will yield many entertaining and informative events. If you choose to make one of these trips, be prepared to have a good time and be sure to bring your favorite covered dish.
Exercises such as these are entertaining and exciting to your child and if properly presented, your young student may not even realize he is in school. But remember, as entertaining, exciting and educational as these road exercises are, they are not a replacement for the well planned curriculum and lesson plans available to parents home schooling their children.