Traveling with kids is usually a cause for stress among parents. There are tons of advice out there on how to travel with kids cross-country, to certain special landmarks, and even how to just take them grocery shopping. Constantly traveling with your child? For many parents, that’d be a nightmare.
While parenting is nearly always stressful, traveling shouldn't be an additional source of anxiety. Rather, traveling with your kids is an excellent way to broaden their minds, provide valuable experiences, and really learn about your kids.
No one is debating whether or not traveling is good for kids, but people usually get trepidatious when it comes to traveling long-term. What about school?
Well, why not learn while traveling? It’s hardly a revolutionary concept. Plenty of parents road school, but aren’t their children missing out on the important social interactions of more traditional schooling? It’d be ridiculous to claim that there are no disadvantages to road schooling, but, if practiced right, they can be overcome.
Problem 1: Long-Term Friendships
Don’t get me wrong. You shouldn’t worry about socialization during road schooling in general. Road schooling can provide lots of socialization benefits that kids who attend traditional school don’t get: interacting frequently with new faces, conversing over a language barrier, and constantly adapting to new social situations, to name a few. Your kids are in no danger of lacking social skills.
However, if you’re constantly on the road, it can be difficult for your children to forge and maintain long-term friendships. While they might be closer to you or their siblings than other children, it’s important that they have long-term interactions with people that don’t have to love them. This is becoming less and less of a problem as time goes on and technology continues to improve.
There are plenty of online communities that connect students around the globe, and with video chatting available on most smartphones and laptops, maintaining friendships can be easy. If possible, make sure that they try to bond with kids that have at least one similar interest, so that they’ll always have something to talk about. You should encourage your child to get in touch with another kid who is road schooling, and then they’ll always be able discuss their travels!
Problem 2: College
Not every kid needs to go the college, but if higher education is in your child’s future, road schooling could make some aspects of college more difficult. You can prepare your kids for the SAT or ACT just as well, if not better, than traditional schools — though they provide easy access to information.
Many high schools have career counselors, and, while you can certainly morally support your child and Google different career paths, career counselors have more resources and connections. It’s literally their job. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t provide your kids with the same resources. It will just take a little more effort. Career counselors typically help graduating students understand how to apply for scholarships, which majors offer the highest payout, and even what certifications will be required for specific career paths. If you do your research and stay organized, you can be just as valuable a resource.
Problem 3: “Real World” Experience
Of course your kids are getting more real-world experience than kids who attend traditional school. They’re seeing more of the world than other kids will probably ever see, and if that’s not real-world experience, then nothing is. Most of the things that they’re missing out on (busy work, petty fights with frenemies, art programs with no funding) are really not worth the headache.
There are a few skills, though, that come naturally in a traditional school setting, but aren’t always included during road schooling. For instance, traditional schooling mandates that you are at a certain place by a certain time, usually ungodly early. This sort of consistent torture might not be a skill that you care to impart upon your children, but many people are expected to be at the same place by 8 a.m. every day. Your child might not choose such a career, but they very well might.
Furthermore, school subjects are taught by a variety of different teachers at a traditional school, versus only a very limited number on the road. This encourages children to learn through a variety of different ways, since every teacher will teach differently. Just because your child is a visual learner doesn’t mean that everything he needs to learn in life will be presented visually.
Additionally, your child might never discover their learning type if you never change it up. You can account for these problems by sticking to a fairly consistent schedule, and occasionally changing up your teaching style. You’ll have lots of hands-on learning on the road, but it’s important to not only rely on that. Art Anderson, a faculty member of Education at Concordia University, states that teaching methods need to assess your child’s proficiency and provide “fair, accurate, specific, and timely” feedback. Even if you aren’t providing a traditional education, these are still excellent guidelines to go by. Change up your teaching tactics. Keep what does work and throw away what doesn’t.
Road schooling certainly provides its own advantages, which should be plenty clear if you’re reading this blog. However, being blind to the disadvantages of road schooling doesn’t do anyone any favors, especially your children. Just keep in mind that these disadvantages are completely conquerable; you just need to be aware of what the potential problems are, and how to overcome them.