We’ve been homeschooling on the road for 2.5 years now. Before that, we were more conventional bricks-and-mortar homeschoolers, registered and approved by the Australian government. My boys are now 9 and 11 and they’re doing just fine, so we have a fair bit of experience in alternative education behind us.
You can call it worldschooling, unschooling or homeschooling, I don’t mind. We certainly worldschool, in that we take a lot of our education from the world around us and actively seek out learning opportunities. We unschool, in that I hardly consider the conventional school system at all. My boys, most likely, will not re-enter the school system, unless it is their choice. I am not tied by school curriculums, timetables, or lessons. We homeschool in that we do education, at home. I don’t get hung up over name tags, I tend to use homeschool as an umbrella term. (In the UK they prefer the term home education, to distance ourselves from the school completely, sure, we do that too.)
Yes, we do some written work, but not much. We don’t do lessons, we don’t have a schedule, we just do what we feel like doing, when we feel like doing it.
What Do You Really Need To Homeschool on the Road?
I’ve spotted a few of these posts on Pinterest, shopping lists for new homeschoolers or worldschoolers recommending this travel journal and that i-thingy. They read like shopping lists, because that is what they are, long lists of must-haves to get you to spend money on Amazon.
Amazon affiliate links are all well and good, I use them, but I’m never going to knowingly tell you to buy something you don’t need.
These are our, bare minimum, list of things you need to homeschool on the road.
A Word About Distance Education and Travel
Distance Education is really not considered homeschooling by many. It’s school, without bricks and mortar.
I’ve never tried it, but of all my friends who have, every one of them found it too restrictive to use in a travel environment. You will need materials posted to you, scheduled times and lose all your spontaneity.
The Most Important Thing? Play and Time.
Study after study proves that all work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Give them time for their own explorations in whatever way they choose. Be present, don’t shut yourself off from them with phones and gadgets. Without those two things it just won’t work.
It is absolutely, 100% essential to provide your child with books along with abundant time to read them. This is the number 1 most important thing you can possibly do for your child. From read alouds, to young readers to comics, to meatier books, give them books and time and they will learn.
If you can access public libraries in an English speaking country, perfect.
If you are travelling in parts of the world where English isn’t the first language, you will struggle.
In some countries, for example Sri Lanka, you will find books for kids in English, but they may be hard to track down.
In the olden days of travel, second hand book stores and exchanges were common. They still exist, but they are fewer and of course, children’s books aren’t widely available as hardly any kids escape school to backpack the world.
This is why our family now owns 4 Kindles.
Our choice in the Kindle paperlight. We feel that if the kids were to own a Kindle Fire, they’d spend all that valuable time gaming and not reading. A Kindle is a book and that is all.
Paper and Writing Materials
Carry a stash of pencils, with rubbers ( erasers) on the end. You can’t lose a rubber when it’s attached . You’ll also need a pencil sharpener, small ruler and coloured pencils. Felt tip pens are great but the risk of leaks in a backpack is too great, our felt tips (texters) stay at home base.
Give your kids a sketch pad for their own art and a note pad for their own writing, games or maths.
It is best to carry pencils in a soft pencil case, we started this journey with a plastic box, it was too bulky.
A lot of people will suggest that your child will or should keep a daily travel journal. Well, my boys would rather extract their own teeth than do that, so don’t be surprised if it’s a non starter. Just give them a notepad and let them do what they like with it.
We travel with 3 laptops. Mine is off-limits for kids, I need it to work and to plan, so they need their own and 1 each stops fights.
We prefer laptops over tablets or i pods because we find their use easier to regulate. We don’t WANT to kids to have the option of gaming on trains and planes, we want them to read or be present with us, so it’s easiest if no hand held devices, other than the Kindles, exist.
At one point we bought them a cheap tablet each, it didn’t add to anyone’s happiness and there were frequent cries of ” I’m bored!” Which in kid speak means ” I want the tablet!”. We were glad when they broke, quickly.
Laptops are only for our use in home base of hotel rooms, so, by limiting online access, for all four of us, we remain engaged with each other and what’s going on around us.
My elder son owns a Nintendo 3DS, which is less addictive than tablet gaming. He uses it surprisingly infrequently for that purpose, he’s more likely to use it as a still or video camera or to play music.
What Your Homeschooler Can Do With a Computer
Sorry, I don’t mean to state the obvious to the initiated, but non homeschoolers might not understand how we roll.
Learn to use a computer, pretty essential!
Access You Tube documentaries on just about any topic, from Simple Machines to World War 2.
Listen to music from any era.
Check out artists, historical and modern.
Do their own research on any topic that interests them.
Learn to type.
Learn to code or programme.
Talk to friends and relatives back home.
Create their own blog and start earning some pocket money.
Complete online courses (we like Minecraft Homeschool and Artventure).
Play computer games, because they DO have educational benefit as well as being the most fun, ever.
Follow online learning programmes such as Reading Eggs, Study Ladder or the excellent, and free, Khan Academy
That’s just a taster, there is so much more.
I try to have a workbook or two with us at all times, this means stocking up when we’re in the UK or getting Amazon deliveries whenever possible.
Boo ( now 9) very much enjoys Carol Vorderman’s series of Science workbooks, he whizzes through them in no time and they’re a great way to get him writing. D doesn’t much like workbooks at all, but of those we’ve tried, the Enchanted Learning series was a winner.
We don’t use work books often, they are for down time, or “bored” moments. The boys are usually too busy learning in their own ways.
If you’d like links to the above workbooks, they’re in our homeschool and travel post. You’ll find much more detail there.
Online Learning Programmes
Two we’ve used and found worth paying for, were Reading Eggs in the early days, and Study Ladder, which we still use now. These are available in Au, US and UK versions.
It’s great to have something to fall back on, that we can access from anywhere in the world.
The boys use or used, both, for fun from time to time and now I use them to know that we are on track, we’re up to date, or ahead, of what the schools might be doing.
You Really Don’t Need Anything Else!
Even the workbooks and online learning programmes are optional.
From time to time we’ve carried books with us ( you’ll find some of our favourite educational kids books in this post) it’s nice to have a real book to share sometimes. We tend to treat books as disposable, passing them on or leaving them behind for others to enjoy.
It’s great to have a few other educational props with you, such as,
A small compass to help learn directions.
Binoculars to study birds and animals.
Lego is always good, but beware, Lego collections spiral out of control quickly!
Sewing equipment or other makes.
But really, you don’t need much at all.
Just take a child’s natural curiosity, place it in a whole world of learning opportunities and nature will take its course.
I haven’t put affiliate links in this post, but you will find links to the products mentioned elsewhere on this website, just click through.
Hope you have fun with your learning from the world!