How to Start Roadschooling
Once you’ve hatched a plan to start roadschooling (a.k.a. homeschooling on the go), it’s time to start thinking about roadschooling packing essentials. What do you need to bring to roadschool your children and what can you leave behind?
If you’ve followed my roadschooling, worldschooling, and coffeeschooling life with my four children over the years, you may have seen the interview where I talk about travel essentials during my 50 States Tour of the USA by Motorhome in Wanderschool: Julie & Her Four Kids over at She Explores.
Creating a Roadschooling Packing Essentials List
How to Homeschool on the Road
Roadschooling doesn’t require a motorhome, RV, or camper van.
I’ve road tripped and roadschooled in my car (or in rental cars) over the years with my children. Like that time I spent weeks solo mom (+ kids) road tripping Europe, with my four children and their backpacks crammed into an adorable Volkswagen Polo.
Depending on your homeschooling style, roadschooling may require more or less planning. When I toured the USA in my 31 foot motorhome with my children, I was ‘mostly’ unschooling. I say mostly–and to some unschooling purists, they may say there is no such thing as mostly, believing that unschooling is all or none–but I did along bring Saxon Math Homeschool books and assigned daily math problems. Everything else was basically self-initiated, self-directed, self-interested learning.
As you may know, Saxon Math Books are heavy and aren’t exactly a roadschooling mama’s dream. I’ve complained about this before over in Homeschool Curriculum. But on several of my roadschooling adventures, those books made the roadschooling packing essentials cut. Oh, how I love those Saxon Math books.
Consider Your Roadschool Storage
Your means of roadschool travel are going to be a key factor in your packing. Storage is going to play a big role in your roadschool travel essentials list.
However, whether you have a little or a lot of storage space, I highly recommend that you think minimalist.
Trust me, you’ll acquire things on the journey. If you’re crossing seasons or come upon unexpected weather or major child growth spurts, you’ll probably acquire extra clothing and gear, for starters. And you’ll come across so many cutesy shops, cozy bookstores, vintage sales, and farmer’s markets, that you might find yourself buying more often than you expected. Of course, you’ll also pick up gear and gadgets that you never anticipated and you’ll need to find space somewhere for those items.
You’ll appreciate having a little or a lot of extra space. You’ll also appreciate having storage compartments and bins that are easy to look through, rather than having them jammed full with stuff.
Plan and Pack, But Don’t Overdo It
On that epic motorhome adventure, I had a lot of storage (yeah, yeah, relatively speaking considering my sweet house on wheels was housing four active and growing young children). The one glaring packing mistake I made was packing TOO MANY BOOKS.
Yep, I said it. Too many books.
And I L-O-V-E books and generally think you can’t ever have too many.
When I pack for short roadschooling adventures, it seems that books continuously get axed from the roadschool packing essentials list.
Plan and pack well, but don’t overdo it. Seriously, you will use a fraction of what you bring. So, weed things off your packing piles.
Instead, focus on simply bringing the roadschool essentials.
Pack These Roadschool Essentials
Over the years, I’ve become a minimalist travel packer. So have my four children.
However, when it comes to packing I almost always initially want to bring too much. I think it comes from a fear that I’ll need to waste money on buying stuff that I already have…so why not bring it?
To get to the essentials, I tend to make a giant messy pile of everything I want to bring and slowly pull things out of the pile. When I’m packed, I usually go through my backpack, suitcase, or bag to see if there is one more thing (or two or five) things I can live without. And so it goes…
Until I get my luggage down to the essentials.
This includes getting to the roadschool packing essentials.
Here Are the Essentials to Pack for Your Roadschooling Adventure
1. School Supplies Kit.
Depending on the roadschool adventure and transportation, this will vary in size. Now that most of my children are into computers and iPhones, much of any ‘school work,’ curriculum or classes are online, I bring fewer supplies. But here’s what I suggest for bigger roadschooling adventures:
- colored pencils
- kid scissors
- glue sticks
- journal, composition book, or notebook
- construction paper
- basic white paper
- mini stapler
- pencil sharpener
- charcoal pencils, erasers artist pencils & sketch book (for artsy kids)
- a pencil case, bag, or pencil roll to keep pencils together
- a plastic tote, old wooden wine box or milk crate, backpack or bag, or something else creative to keep everything contained (so you can simply pull out the supply kit)
An absolute must if you have young children who like them. My children spent hours and hours building things out of Lego, sitting buckled at the kitchen table while we drove around the United States. They still talk about their creations and special ‘RV Days’ Lego projects.
But don’t feel compelled to limit your family to legos. Building kits and blocks are also great things to pack. Blocks can double as math counters when it comes to math homework, too!
3. Cards & Games.
- Traditional playing cards. Get fun ones…the kids will love them, such as donut cards!
- Uno or other card games.
- Boardgames and other games. Travel friendly multi-age kid favorites include Boggle and Yahtzee. Monopoly is also a hit if you’ve got more space–can keep the kids occupied for hours and the play money can be useful in working on money math skills.
Depending on your homeschool style, these essentials will vary. For example, if you are a radical unschooler, you probably won’t pack workbooks.
- Counters (for younger children learning math). I used rolls of quarters and spare change. 🙂
- Workbooks and/or creative activity books (like Maze books)
- A special book or two, such as favorite bedtime book, chapter book. You can always get books or podcasts along the roadschool adventure, download books via your library, Amazon, or online. You may find little libraries or book swaps along the way (if you’re RV’ing, you might find book swap bookshelves at campgrounds).
If you have older kids, they will probably prioritize these items as essential without your help. 😉
- Laptop / iPhone / iPad / Tablet / e-book reader
- Headphones. In Awesome Travel Gifts for Teens & Tweens, I listed the reliable, comfy, and affordable headphones my kids love to use.
- Chargers, USB Cables, Outlet adapters (if applicable), Back-up Batteries / Bricks
- SIM Card (depending on location of roadschool adventure, you may be able to purchase in advance or buy when you arrive at a Kiosk, in the airport, or Tobacco shop).
- Video camera / camera / tripod – for making YouTube or Family videos.
Just For Learning Fun
- Paper Map. A big ‘ol paper map that you can sprawl out on the table, floor, or ground and look at together as a family and talk about where you are and where you’re going
- Beach bucket / shovel
Roadschooling Schedule & What to Teach
When you’re roadschooling (and homeschooling), you ultimately get to decide what to teach your children. Of course, you may have standards or requirements that you must meet depending on where you are registered to homeschool.
However, the beauty of roadschooling is in the flexibility. And endless learning possibilities and opportunities. There’s no rule against sitting around an evening campfire reading with your child (or your teens writing essays while sitting on logs) or hanging out in a posh coffeeshop while your child tackles her math assignment.
There are plenty of fulltime families roadschooling who have already discovered the scheduling and learning flexibility of roadschool.
The same holds true if you take roadschooling up a notch to the worldschool level… as in taking roadschooling global. A world schooling itinerary is yours for the making based on learning goals for your child, your child’s needs, your child’s level, and where you happen to be in the world.
For example, while roadtripping through Spain one year, I went out of my way to go to the Salvador Dali museum. Why? Just so my children could learn about his art first hand. The side excursion was a spontaneous learning (or schooling, if you prefer) adventure–and one that my children remember well to this day.
So, grab what you need, pack it, and hit the road on your roadschool adventure!
Ready to Roll
I hope this list of roadschooling travel essentials helps get you ready and excited for your roadschooling adventure. Homeschooling on the road is one of my parenting highlights and some of the best moments my children and I have enjoyed with each other.
If I’ve missed a roadschool essential, drop a note in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
Oh, and for those of you thinking about homeschooling in your RV, you can read more about homeschool RV travel and my experience Roadschooling the USA in RV’ing 50 States.