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More and more, homeschooling is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional in-school education. In the United States, places like Washington and Pennsylvania now offer state-funded online charters as public school alternatives.

One of the benefits of this approach to education is the many ways it frees up families to bring learning on the road. Rather than remaining shackled to the local school calendar, students can learn at their own pace and tackle curriculum as they actually see the world they are learning about.

Homeschool Made Simple

Homeschool Made Simple

Making things even more convenient, there is no shortage of material available online to help support students as they engage with new content. Many parents opt for prepackaged digital curriculum systems to help ensure their children are keeping to a learning pace comparable to their age-group peers.

However, road learning is about more than just doing schoolwork on the road. Traveling families have the opportunity to make learning come alive in authentic ways – ways that cannot be mirrored in a classroom (virtual or otherwise).

But what happens when a student is struggling with a particular academic concept? It is bound to happen, regardless of the learning pathway a family may choose. When learning hits a roadblock far from home and online resources aren’t cutting it, it may be time to reach out to a tutor.

Finding Tutoring Help

When most parents think of tutoring, they picture the local college student or friendly neighborhood teacher sitting down with their child and plugging away at homework, test prep, and practice problems. This one-on-one approach to academic support is very much alive and well; many families call in tutors to help their children for a wide variety of reasons.

On the road, this type of support may seem out of reach. The reality is it may be more feasible than you think.

If you conclude that some outside academic support may be what your child needs, start by finding a reputable online tutoring database that allows you to search tutors by location. Search your current location (or next destination), and a list of eager educational professionals will be at your fingertips.

With a little effort, you should be able to coordinate with a tutor and get your child some help with that nagging concept. Sure, you will need to coordinate a time and place based around a local tutor’s home base and your temporary location (local coffee shops and libraries are always great options!), but it is  doable!

Know What Help Your Child Needs

Part of finding the right academic support comes down to knowing what type of help your child actually needs. When calling or emailing prospective tutoring candidates, be prepared with tangible examples of academic work or particularly troublesome problems.

Simply stating, “My child is struggling with algebra,” may be enough for a typical, ongoing tutoring relationship, but on-the-road tutoring is typically more of a triage-type scenario. Something along the lines of, “My child is having difficulty with trinomial factoring,” will help ensure a tutor is equipped and prepared to deliver the targeted help you are seeking.

How to Screen Candidates

There really isn’t any magic shortcut for finding the best possible tutor; put in the required energy, and you will be sure that you aren’t wasting your time and money.

The thing to remember is that you are trying to evaluate a candidate’s qualifications and potential fit. It is a waste of time to bring a tutor into the picture that cannot teach the concepts your child needs help with. Similarly, no learning will happen with a tutor that is unable to connect with your child on a personal level.

Because of this, evaluating tutors while traveling is probably the hardest part of the tutoring equation for road learning families. That being said, it is also the most important.

All tutors are not created equal. Even if you are seeking a tutor for a one-off help session, still take the time to read a candidates résumé and call their references. There is no substitute for actually putting in the due diligence to screen your choices.

Online testimonials and reviews can only tell you so much. Similarly, the highest-priced tutor in town may not be the best. Talk to the real people who can attest to tutors’ strengths and vouch for their results before deciding to make a hire.

The Potential for Ongoing Support

Just because your family may have moved on to the next stop on the journey, does not mean you need to sever ties with a particularly good tutor. If in your travels you come across someone who is especially helpful, inquire about the possibility for future virtual sessions. These sessions could be in real-time using chat or video conferencing software, or they could be asynchronous conversations over email. Most tutors would be appreciative of the continued business!

Some tips to consider when pursuing a distance tutoring relationship:

  • Be mindful of time differences – While it may be 2 pm where you are, your tutor’s time zone may be drastically different!
  • Find an optimal time for future sessions – Make sure you ask your tutor about their work schedule and when they would typically be available for an on-call session. Your best bet may be to schedule times that line up with when students in the tutor’s local area are in school (less competition for attention!).
  • Avoid waiting until the last minute – If there is a potential need for a tutoring session, do not reach out expecting to be accommodated within 24 hours. These types of flexible arrangements require flexibility on both sides!
  • Maintain the relationship with check-ins from the road – If there is a chance you will need a tutor’s services down the road (pun intended), make sure you are maintaining fairly regular contact. Keeping the relationship cordial and alive will make it more likely that a tutor will be able to accommodate your future needs.

Don’t shy away from getting tutoring help for your kids just because you are away from home. No matter where you are, there is likely a handful of great tutors to choose from ready and willing to serve as your helpful learning pit stop!

Sheldon Soper is a ten year veteran of the teaching profession and currently serves as a junior high school teacher in southern New Jersey and as a writer for The Knowledge Roundtable, a free tutoring marketplace. His primary focus is building reading, writing, and research skills in his students. He holds two degrees from Rutgers University: a B.A. in History as well as a M.Ed. in Elementary Education. He holds teaching certifications in English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Elementary Education. Thomas has also worked as a tutor for grades ranging from second through high school in a wide variety of subjects including reading, writing, calculus, chemistry, algebra, and test prep. His core educational beliefs stem from the notion that all students can be successful; it is the role of educators to help facilitate growth by differentiating and scaffolding student learning on a personal level.

BEFORE THE TRIP

A few weeks before the trip, you should begin the planning of your trip. Some questions you should be asking yourself are whether the area is suitable for young kids, is the hotel kid friendly, or is the campsite going to be okay for the kids? So when booking accommodation, it is essential to check if they are kid friendly or even better if they offer activities for kids. Additionally, you will want to plan out activities that are safe for children as well.

Since you’ll be traveling with your most precious cargo, your kids, first things first – check your vehicle. A few days before going you should either check your vehicle if you know how to or take it to a mechanic to make sure that everything is working fine. A few things you should check are tire pressure including the spare, the brakes, lights, windscreen, car seats, and be sure to pack jump cables. Otherwise, you’ll be spending more time dealing with road assistance than time with your family. Speaking of, you should also take a list of important numbers like emergency contacts, and roadside assistance just in case.

Source: Flickr

If this is your first-time road tripping with young kids, let me be the first to tell you, you’ll be packing a whole lot more than you would if you were with your friends and it’ll take a whole lot longer to get there. Kids need a lot, so you’ll need to start packing a few days in advance as to not forget anything. Starting with the basics, you’ll need a GPS or at least a map with a pre-planned route to make sure you don’t get lost. You’ll definitely need an entertainment device for the kids and chargers for all your devices. On that note, don’t forget your kids’ favorite toy/blanket/dummy because it’s the small things can make the difference between a peaceful trip and a chaotic journey.

Travelling with friends you’re probably not prepared for the worst, but with kids it’s different. You’ll need a first aid kit that covers all the essentials, most new cars will come with one, but if yours doesn’t, it’s okay. There are plenty of DIY first aid kits online, or if you’re in a rush just buy one.

When you’re packing be sure to pack some snacks and make sure they’re not sugar loaded. Some good healthy alternatives include muesli bars, frozen grapes, fresh fruit, and cheese sticks. If you get stuck on ideas, there are plenty of ideas on the internet.

My final “before the trip” tip is to get on the road early, kids are a lot happier when there is no traffic, and in the morning they’ll spend the first few hours sleeping for a quieter drive. You’ll also need a bit more leeway regarding time as they’ll need a few more breaks during the trip.

DURING THE TRIP

So it’s the beginning of the voyage, all is relatively calm in the car as you’ve probably left in the morning and the kids are still catching up on sleep. This is the easiest part of the trip. Take this time to set your car on child lock, and placing rubbish bags, paper towels, and wet wipes where they are easily accessible.

Source: Flickr

When the inevitable snack time arrives, this is where packing healthy is going to help. Like everyone else, when kids eat sugary, highly processed foods, they are going to go on a sugar high but this time they’re… trapped in a car with you. This can ultimately lead to more distractions, and when the sugar wears off, the kids can become easily frustrated. So healthy and balanced snacks will help in avoiding this sugar high and crash.

Source: Flickr

If you don’t want to hear the question “are we there yet?” about a hundred times, keep your kids distracted with a fun game. It doesn’t need to make a whole lot of sense or particularly have a scoring or winning system just make it up as you go. For example, a game of count the koalas (or another animal) you’ve seen may not seem like a lot, but for kids, it’s like a competition of who can see the most. Next thing they know, it’s been an hour or two driving already. Other alternatives for entertainment include plain notebooks and pencils, Where’s Wally books, sticker books, and more!

Make sure you take both short and long breaks in the trip, this will ensure that you and your kids can get out and about for stretch, and clear your minds. During breaks make sure you take your kids to the bathroom once when you get there, and just before you leave. Breaks are great for feedings, diaper changes, and to get the kids out for a runaround.

If you just need a break for that final leg of the drive and your kids are still up, it’s time to pull out the devices. No one is blaming you for wanting some peace and quiet, especially if it’s a long trip, so iPads are the go to. Paired with a pair of kid friendly earphones, your children will have their eyes fixed on the screen, and you’ll be able to drive distraction free for a bit. However, bringing out the electronics should be a last resort because road trips are a great time for family bonding, and should be enjoyed together.

AFTER THE TRIP

Take a bit of time after you get home to have a chat with your kids about what they liked and what they would like to see more of next time. This feedback from the kids will be worth it because it makes sure that they don’t get bored of road trips, and you’ll be able to get an idea of where to go next!

The final step is to pack everything back into the house, and get some well-deserved rest because you just survived a road trip with your young family!

Thailand — one of Asia’s most beautiful countries to visit. Indeed, a vacation in Thailand means being able to visit historical destinations, trying out exotic and spice-filled food, and meeting some of the nicest people in the world. But while there are countries in which you can easily immerse yourself in local life and enjoy experiencing their culture, there are dos and don’ts you should be aware of in places like Thailand. To guide you on your trip, here are some of the things you should know beforehand.

Vacation in Thailand

Vacation in Thailand

Thai eating etiquette

In Thailand, people eat with a spoon and fork rather than a knife and fork. You use the fork to stab the food and keep it in place, but you eat only with the spoon. It is considered crude or shows a lack table manners if you eat with your fork. When you are finished eating, always put your fork and spoon at the 6:30 position. The wait staff will take this as a signal to take your plate away.

Additionally, use chopsticks when you are eating noodles. But do not ask for them if it is obvious that chopsticks are not available.

English is widely understood

It would be nice to learn a couple of phrases in Thai sà wàt dii for Hello or Kob kun krub/Kob kun ka for Thank You. But remember that most Thais can understand English, so do not hesitate to ask locals about directions or suggestions on where to go.

Bring a jacket or a cover-up when visiting temples

Whether it is for temples, monasteries, and palaces, always make sure that your elbows and knees are covered up. You can do this by bringing along a jacket, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, or using a long cover-up. So that it is convenient for you, schedule your visits to these places in one day if it is possible. Additionally, if you see that the locals are removing their shoes, make sure to follow suit.

Carry wet wipes, tissues, and hand sanitizers

There are countries in Asia where squat toilets are widely used than sitting toilets, and Thailand is one of them. Do not worry, there are establishments which has the sitting toilet, but just in case you are not near one, squat toilets are the most accessible. If you are uncomfortable with using them but have to go to the toilet, just use your own tissue, wet wipes, and hand sanitizers. And try not to wear shoes which easily slips on wet surfaces so that you will not have a problem when you are squatting.

Do not talk about the king

Thai people have a deep respect for their King. In fact, if there is a scene in a film where the King is shown, they would all stand up, as you should too when you are in the cinema with them. But you are also not allowed to talk about the Kind, you should not even mention them even if it is just in passing. So to adhere to this rule and to show respect, avoid mentioning the King in conversations with the locals.

Be mindful of your body language

You know that in some cultures, there are some gestures that you are not allowed to do. For instance, in Italy you are not allowed to use the horns sign — a common hand gesture used in rock concerts — because it is offensive. In Thailand, you should not point your finger to people. This is seen as a sign of aggression, so if you are calling on someone like a tuk-tuk or a taxi, you should make sure that your palm is down and that your fingers are directed to the ground.

Public transportation is pretty straightforward

If you are worried about the traffic, you would be glad to know that the Subway (BTS) and the Light Rail (MRT) are pretty efficient ways to go around the country. They are also fast and cheap, so you do not have to worry about putting a dent on your budget.

Ride a tuk-tuk during the day

Of course, riding the tuk-tuk will always be part of the Thai experience. However, to fully appreciate the city view it gives you, ride the tuk-tuk during the day. Then you can just go back to your hotel riding the BTS, the MRT, or even a taxi.

Local beer brands also produce bottled water

In Thailand, there are brands who make both beer and water. So do not get confused when you order a Singha and the water asks if it is a Singha beer or Singha water.

Experience hot and humid days in April

If you are planning to travel in April, you should know that it is one of the most humid months in Thailand, in fact, the whole of Asia. It is when you can expect rain or drizzles, but there is no cold wind, instead it will remain hot. You can choose to reschedule your trip on a much less humid month, but if you can take it, then just bring comfortable clothes. In any case, it makes traveling in Thailand cheaper and less crowded in April.

Do not compare local food with their Western versions

We all love a good helping of Pad Thai, but you should know that it might taste different from the usual dish we enjoy at home. Local food is delicious, but it is made with Thai taste buds in mind. Watch out for restaurants or stalls which is packed with locals, because those definitely serve the best local fare.

Eat as many mangoes as you possibly can

Seriously, Thailand has the sweetest mangoes in the world, so do not miss an opportunity to eat them. There is a dessert that has slices of mangoes, sticky rice, and coconut milk — it tastes heavenly, do try that.

These are some of the most important things you need to know before your trip to Thailand. Keep these reminders in mind and your Thai trip will surely go without a hitch.