Embracing the World as Your Classroom With Vanlife Education
Choosing van life when you’re on your own is one thing, but it becomes a different adventure entirely once you throw a kid into the mix. That said, it can be an equally amazing adventure. Traveling with kids and worldschooling from a van is an incredible way to educate your kids and give them experiences they’ll never forget.
Not sure how to jump into worldschooling from a van? My family has been roadschooling for 8 years now. Here’s what we have learned along the way.
What Is Worldschooling?
Worldschooling is exactly what it sounds like–schooling your kids while exploring the world. Some apply this term only to international travel, and many worldschoolers actually enroll in local schools while in one place for a while, but we think it applies to vanlifers who are homeschooling their kids as they travel as well.
Another term that applies to families schooling their kids on the road is roadschooling. Both terms mean essentially the same thing, and no matter what you call it, wrapping your child’s education up into your travels is a wonderful way to ensure they get a well-rounded, unique education that includes lessons they’ll never forget.
Is Roadschooling From a Van Legal?
What’s the first question that many people ask when considering worldschooling? “Is it legal?” Lucky for us (and our kids), it is!
When schooling your kids from a van, you simply have to follow the homeschooling rules in your domicile state. If your state has very strict homeschooling laws, you might consider switching to a state like Texas, which has incredibly laid-back laws that are easier for road schoolers to stick to. That said, we’ve met roadschool families who domicile in a number of different states, so it is possible no matter where you’re from.
Finding Your Van Worldschooling Style
Now that you know the laws you need to follow while worldschooling from a van, the next step is deciding what your roadschooling style will be. Some choose to follow a very traditional curriculum while also enjoying the things they learn during their travels. Others take a much more relaxed unschooling approach, using their experiences on the road as their curriculum. That said, most world schoolers fall somewhere in the middle.
It’s up to you what kind of roadschooling path you take. Just keep in mind that different things work for different families, and what works now may not work later. You can always change your style down the road.
Incorporating Your Travel Experiences Into Your Schooling
Whether or not you choose to use traditional textbooks and worksheets, you will absolutely want to use your amazing experiences as nomads to further your kids’ education. Not sure how to go about that? Honestly, it comes pretty naturally, but here are some tips to get you started.
Get Outside Often
There is no better classroom than the great outdoors. For this reason, it’s a good idea to get outside and hike, kayak, climb, or just walk each and every day. While you’re out there, slow down and make a point of observing the world around you. Ask questions, have conversations, and take notes about things you’d like to look into later.
Visit Educational Attractions
Our country is chock-full of educational attractions. Be sure to weave these into your travels. Visit museums and historic sites. Go to national parks and wildlife refuges. Again, talk about what you see, encourage your kids to be ultra-observant, and ask questions of the rangers and docents you meet. You never know what you might learn during such field trips!
Talk and Read to Expand Upon Sightseeing
When you get home from a sightseeing outing, find some books to read about the thing you just saw. Watch a documentary on the topic, or just discuss what you saw and what you found interesting about the place. Some families will also add in projects surrounding certain field trips, such as written reports.
Take Advantage of Presentations
A huge number of the parks and museums out there offer presentations on a daily basis. These are almost always presented by somebody who is passionate about what they do, making them wonderful opportunities to get the kids excited about the topic and giving the whole family a chance to ask questions.
Use the Junior Ranger Program
The US National Parks System runs an excellent Junior Ranger Program. This program gives kids the chance to complete fun activity books at each of the NPS sites across the country. Once a book is complete, it can be returned to a park ranger for a site-specific badge.
The Junior Ranger program is a great way to engage kids during national park visits and ensure they are picking up some information along the way.
Note: All national forests and some state parks also have Junior Ranger programs!
Socializing While Worldschooling From a Van
We’ve talked about roadschooling laws and how to go about learning on the road. What we haven’t covered yet is socialization. Many parents worry that without traditional school, their kids won’t be able to make friends. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are tons of ways to make friends while worldschooling, and as long as you’re intentional about maintaining friendships, you will likely find you have deeper relationships than ever before.
Meet People in Campgrounds
The easiest way to make friends on the road is to meet people at campgrounds. Make a point of going outside and saying hi to the neighbors, and encourage your kids to do the same. If you click with someone, exchange contact info and try to meet up in the future.
Use Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome
We’ve made many friends by booking stays through the Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome platforms. These platforms allow RVers to stay on private property, and often the owners of the properties are incredibly friendly people who we keep in touch with long after our stays.
Another option? Join clubs. Clubs that are made specifically for families on the road are particularly good for finding fellow world schoolers. These include the Republic of Nomads and Fulltime Families.
Of course, if you want to meet the people who are part of those clubs, you will need to attend club events. We highly recommend getting to an event as soon as possible, exchanging contact info with the people you befriend, and adjusting your travel plans to meet up with friends whenever possible.
There you have it, everything you need to know to start worldschooling from your van. Now get ready to give your kids (and yourself) the best education anyone could ask for!