Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: Road trip tips for homeschoolers

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Road trip tips for homeschoolers

One of the best ways for children to learn anything is to get out there and experience it for themselves. Whether you're learning about art, science, math, history or any subject at all, a first hand experience can make all the difference. But depending on where you live, you may find that the things you want your kids to see and do are not in your own back yard. That's when it's time to consider a road trip!

Road trips can be a fantastic learning experience for all kinds of families, but especially homeschoolers. That's because most homeschoolers have greater freedom to explore, and at different times of the year than their peers, and they have the ability to work learning adventures into their curriculum at any point in the course of their studies. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to make the most of your homeschooling road trips.

Plan ahead for the best deals

I took enough impromptu road trips in college to know that traveling on a whim can be a blast. But road tripping with kids in tow, I have found that planning ahead is not only safer, it gets you the best deals. From hotel rates to admission fees, I recommend planning at least 30 days in advance to find all the best bargains.

Look for school discounts

As a homeschooler, I have discovered that places like zoos, aquariums, museums and more offer discounts for school groups. These discounts are often available to homeschooling families, too. Sometimes popular attractions even offer free admission to school groups, but these discounts usually require advance notice of two weeks or more, so if you wait until you arrive at your destination to start looking for deals, you'll be too late. 

Double check the schedules at your destinations

While you are doing your planning, go ahead and double check the schedules at your destinations. Many attractions set their schedules around the public school calendar, and that can mean shorter hours or even blacked out dates once school is in session. Even though many popular destinations post accurate calendars online, it's still a good idea to double check your dates by calling ahead because schedules can change and online calendars are not always updated. 

Save room on the itinerary for spontaneity

When taking a road trip, some of the best surprises can be found by spontaneously following road signs to points of interest or skimming through brochures at tourist information centers or hotel lobbies. If you save time for unplanned learning adventures during your trip, you might be amazed at the memories you make.

Consider traveling with friends

If you have made friends with other local homeschoolers, taking road trips together can be a great way to save money and have more fun. By carpooling, families can decrease their travel costs significantly, and even just a few families can make up groups large enough to get significant discounts at most locations. Besides, shared experiences with friends are much more memorable.

Leave your school work behind

Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give to you as an experienced homeschooling road tripper is that you leave your school work at home. I know, that seems counter-intuitive, since one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that we can do school anywhere and any time. But unless you are on the road full time, I say leave the school work at home and just experience your road trip for all that it's worth. 

Some folks would suggest printing up animal scavenger hunts to take to the zoo, or taking notes at the museum so you can write up an essay on your favorite artists. But here's the thing. If your focus is on finding the right answers so you can fill in the blanks, you'll miss a lot. 

I've seen kids on school field trips run up to a display at the aquarium, mark off "Jellyfish" on a sheet of paper and run off again in search of the next item on their list. I'd rather have my kids spend as much time as they'd like watching the jellyfish undulate gracefully through the water, examining their strange and wonderful bodies, than make the jellyfish just one more thing to check off a worksheet.

Leave the school work behind and let your kids just learn the way they learn best, by soaking it all in with their senses, watching, listening, touching and even smelling their way through the experience. Let your kids discover for themselves what they think is remarkable, and you'll have a real learning adventure to remember.

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