Roadschool: if pressed, you can define it as “homeschool on the road” – teaching your own children while you travel. While roadschooling, you may or may not follow a set curriculum, but integrating aspects of travel and learning from the road are what fundamentally sets it apart from homeschooling.
We roadschool. We follow some curriculum materials, we are consistent about certain things (- journal writing, reading, art and math in particular), but when pressed, experiential learning trumps even the consistent pieces.
Roadschooling is hard. It requires you as the parent to be present with your child (ren), it demands constant guidance and nurturing. So why do it?
1. Coconuts: Education in a nutshell
Or, “coconut water comes from inside coconuts and not the box sold at Trader Joe’s?!”
When you roadschool, everything is an opportunity.
Driving, you see a coconut water stand? Stop, get out, watch, talk about what is happening, watch some more, shake the coconuts (“can you hear the milk sloshing inside?”) and drink!
Bonus points for when you can springboard it to talking about additional uses of the coconut (-copra, oil, “meat”), coconut water as a perfect fluid, and the uses of the coconut tree (- houses, brooms, etc).
This was a whole lesson driving by, then we got lucky and caught up with them at a roadside Oxxo (- convenient store).
Farming, livestock, and ethics right there.
3. Map skills
But not kidding about showing Micah how to navigate the subway in Mexico City (‘DF”) and then allowing him to take the lead and show us where we needed to go.
He did it. He’s 6.
We involve him in most mapping endeavors and he also works on a book called “Map Skills” along with his compasses (both homemade and store bought). We are trying to help him so that he can navigate his way through the forests behind our yurt on the Lost Coast AND the large subway networks. Which dovetails nicely with our parental goals of teaching our kids how to grow their own food AND code their own websites.
4. Economics, Human Rights and Fair Trade
Things sold in the market were beautiful, yes, but because we’ve already been to many artisan markets in Mexico, most in more rural areas, the experience in that particular market ended up being a lesson in economics, human rights and fair trade for Micah.
What can be eaten, where and why? How does it taste? How is it made? What about it is nutritious?
All of our kids eat EVERYTHING. We are the “gotta try it at least twice” kind of parents and we lead by example.
These permeate everything, of course. And they can permeate everything regardless of whether or not you are on the road.
The difference between roadschooling, homeschooling and regular schooling is that when you roadschool, your road may lead you to places where you see things like this:
– men climbing up really high poles, some while playing musical instruments, to dance in circular styles hanging upside down and floating slowly to the ground. In front of tall, modern buildings
We had such a great conversation with Micah about that! The world changing, meaning, symbolism, religion, jobs, art. Even globalization.
The difference between roadschooling and visiting museums and having your child visit museums as a school field trip, is that when you go while roadschooling, your kid can watch you get overwhelmed at the Frida Kahlo museum, and/or tear up over Lucy’s bones (LUCY!!!! omg, the LEAKEY’S!!!!) at the National Museum of Anthropology.
You can then spend one entire hour trying to explain the sun disc (struggling to tell the truth about it but tame down all those human hearts and gory sacrifices) to your wide-eyed little one
Oh HELL YEAH
It. Is. Hard.
But we’ve got a 6 year old now who has a fairly complete history of Mexico floating around in his noggin’. And a 2 and 4 year old who spent hours gazing at anthropological treasures.
Hopefully some of that richness seeped in.
The point of it to us is SHOW the kids that while different countries have unique, intense and rich histories, we’re all interwoven. We’re all part of this rich fabric that makes us a human family. Our destines are entwined, our mistakes affect each other, consciousness is a gift and a responsibility.
The benefit to roadschooling is being able to take your child to the museum and actually explain things to your little one. You are able to spend as much time crying in front of Frida’s pictures or Lucy’s bones as you want and you know with surety that your child is affected by your own love and passion for the subject. Right as rain.
It’s not for everyone. It’s hard. It’s demanding. You have to be oh, so very present with your kids. You have to be on the lookout for learning experiences and opportunities.
The test of how well you know something seems to be how simply you yourself can explain it, and roadschool sometimes feels like one endless test of e-ver-y-thing that Mikey and I know.
So why do it?
Coconuts. Pigs. Map skills. Economics, human rights and fair trade. Food. Conversations. Museums. Roadschool is a real-life, actual and practical application of skills and knowledge that your child is likely to use in their life. Roadschool is one way in which a parent can nurture the learning of their child – and even guide their child through the actual place in which a moment of import occurred.