By Gloria Jones Ellis, M.A. – Educational Therapist & Co-Founder of Lighthouse Homeschool Solutions
One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling, for me, is the opportunity that it gives us to spend time together as a family! During the holiday season, as we gather with loved ones and reflect on gratitude, I know that I feel incredibly grateful for the past three years of educating my children at home, on the road, and around the world.
When we began roadschooling as a family of four, in the fall of 2019, I started to appreciate a newfound ability to focus almost completely on my family. It was like we were in a small bubble of our own making, together, navigating new experiences.
This was true as we explored new towns and national parks all over the U.S. and Canada, and became even more true as we began our worldschooling adventures in the early months of 2020, venturing into Central and South America and navigating new cultures together.
We returned to the U.S. in February of 2020, for a short period, with plans to explore new continents and countries in the spring. That “short period” became almost two years of quarantine. During that time, we were lucky enough to be able to do our work and schooling from home, and one of the sharpest pandemic-related realizations I experienced was the knowledge of how hectic and chaotic our lives had previously become. Certainly we’d led busy lives prior to our travels but, even in just a few short weeks after returning to the country, our calendars became remarkably full of work obligations, classes, play dates, and other events. It’s as though, even after the awesome experience of traveling together for six months, once we returned home, we instantly reset to what we believed was “normal” for a family. Our travels were simply a brief, joyous interlude… a short break from “real life.”
When we were forced to slow down and stay home during the height of the pandemic, we suddenly faced a lack of “obligations” and we no longer needed to be doing our “normal lives” of running around in separate directions, in separate vehicles, all day long. We were together at home, and we had very few external pressures.
Because of this new reality, what had started as a unique experience of long-term family travel was later embraced as a totally new way of life, wherever we may be. We take our school and our work with us, wherever we go, and cherish the time together and the new experiences we enjoy as a family.
We carry our novels, journals, drawing paper, and pencil cases with us at all times. We use our Lighthouse Homeschool Solutions units to access history, science, and literature content online. ALEKS math offers us great online, self paced, and mastery-based units for all levels. Most importantly, every activity can be a learning activity, so we are comfortable going days or even weeks at a time with very little structured learning time, but lots of fun and educational activities. We often document these activities with online Learning Activity Submissions; using this online form, our kids can take a trip to a museum, or a hike in the woods, or a cooking class and document when, where, and what they learned. They also connect these learning activities to past learning, share their personal reflections on the activity, and attach photos or videos before sending it to us via email. Finding ways to integrate (and document) their learning activities in everyday adventures gives us so much freedom in educating our children!
At this point in time, it feels shocking that I used to let whole days go by without knowing what my kids were learning, who they were interacting with, what worries they were dealing with, and what emotions they were experiencing! After three years of living, working, learning, exploring, and playing together, I’ve learned that I genuinely enjoy spending time with my family, and I am so grateful that we have had the opportunity to make choices that have taken us out of what is normal and expected and into a daily life of joy and togetherness.
You can follow our current travel adventures on Instagram (worldschool_experience) and read about our past adventures on our Worldschooling blog!