For years I told myself I would never home school. I didn't believe that I would be any good at it. It wasn't so much that I feared that I didn't know enough. I was sure there were curriculum and support groups for that. It was that I wouldn't have the patience to be a good teacher. I worried my kids would not like me anymore - as a mom OR as a teacher.
When we decided to do the whole full time travel thing I was so excited for the opportunity that I would do anything to make it happen. Including becoming a home school mom. The strangest thing happened. Over the last 18 months, I have not only gotten over my fears but have come to love homeschooling. Now of course, there are some days when I don't and my patience wears thin but I absolutely love being my kids teacher. Seeing the lights click when they learn something new, observe their hunger for knowledge and come up with things they want to pursue is more rewarding than I ever though possible.
Still, it isn't easy. There are always the nagging thoughts in my head that tell me my kids aren't learning enough, we aren't on track, I'm screwing up their childhood, or I'm not enough to be both their mom and their teacher. But I know those are lies. You might find yourself having similar thoughts. So, here are 5 ways I try to save my sanity AND my kids sanity while on the road.
1. GET OUT OFTEN
The more you can get out of the house, or in my case the RV, the better. I have found that for us we need to break up the day a little. If they were in public school this would be done by going to different classes, specials, lunch or recess. At home, we need to do something other than sit at a table, or in front of a screen, all day. We run errands together, go for a walk, find a park if the weather is nice, explore free things to do in the city we are visiting, or maybe join a local gym with kids classes. We also enjoy going to the library to just hang out or to do our school work in some other place besides home.
2. DITCH THE BOOKS SOMETIMES
We are borderline unschoolers which means we use a loose curriculum for math and language arts but we sort of wing it for all other subjects. That's a very abbreviated definition of course but you get the idea. We do have certain things we need to do each of the 186 school days in our school year. Every once in a while we ditch the plan (and the books) though and focus on a real life example of what they are learning about. You could even do this an addition to your curriculum if you wanted. How does this alleviate stress? Kids understand better when they can see how what they are learning about applies to the real world. Bringing them in on things you deal with on a regular basis might encourage their interest in learning and make them feel like an important part of the family. Everyone's lives get a little easier when we feel loved and supported instead of feeling frustrated, bored or even stupid because we don't understand something. There's a great example in our latest road school video.
3. LET KIDS LEAD - DON'T TRY TO FORCE FEED THEM
Of course there are things they must learn. Part of my job is to help my kiddos learn things like reading, writing and basic math skills and while they might not always want to there are ways I can help make it more fun. As for the other things, it is my opinion that making them follow a curriculum that is uninteresting or frustrating is counter intuitive. I would much rather them want to learn something. In this information age, the question is not, "How much can I get my kid to memorize?" Why do they need that when they can get answers at their fingertips? The question we should be asking is "How can I help my kid ask the right questions and find the answers?" We nurture any questions our kids ask and help them find answers in books, documentaries, websites, or asking people knowledgeable in the subject. The same way we as adults learn about things in our world that is ever changing.
4. BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR SCHEDULING
I know this might be a personality thing. I really hate schedules. Actually, I just like the flexibility of going where I want, when I want, so schedules have always been tough for me. But in this instance, I think it's good to remember that you are in control of your road schooling experience. If you need a day off, take it. If you hate mornings like me, don't start until 10am. If you have plans for a day in the middle of the week, you can move your school day to the weekend. You can choose any days of the week you want. We try to do school each Monday through Friday. But over the last few months this has gotten out of whack and we are just rolling with it. We had seven weeks between John's contracts and as a result traveled a lot during that time. We don't attempt to do school on move days as it never ends well. We basically didn't do school for several weeks and are now playing a little bit of catch up. Even still, it looks like we'll land at Christmas break with the rest of the academic world. Going with the flow helps keep me sane.
5. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
This can look like a lot of different things and may go without saying. It is sooo important to make sure your cup is filled so you can fill those kiddos cups. For me that means grocery shopping or laundry on my own and sometimes a full day away to do whatever I want.
Do you have any ideas on keeping your sanity? I'd love to hear them! Leave me a comment here or pop over to our YouTube channel and join the conversation.
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