We recently spent some time with family out-of-state, and we brought school along with us. My husband has the flexibility to work remotely at times, and since we have always been home schooling, we know that we can do school anywhere we want to. In reality, you can learn anywhere… you don’t have to be “doing school” to say that you’ve learned something…but you get what I mean.
We were gone for about 14 days total and we did lessons for about 12 of those days. I wanted to share the resources that I brought with me, what we ended up using, what we ended up studying and how that all worked out. Let’s get right to it!
I brought three bags/baskets (four if you count my laptop bag) with us on this trip for school related items. One basket solely for library books, one bag for our extra books and resources outside of purchased curriculum, and one small carry on sized bag for everything else. I pulled out my planner and started by looking at what I wanted to focus on in science for the remainder of the month as we tend to do themed months. I had already checked out all of the books in the days prior to leaving that we would need while away. We were going to focus on seeds, plants, and trees for the remainder of the month. I was taking the lead from Exploring Nature With Children’s seed week in September. I then looked at what I could take from our owned resources like our Julia Rothman books, various picture books related to the topic that we already owned, and our Louie Giglio science related devotionals. I then looked at our Mystery Science lesson options related to seeds specifically. I found three that I felt would work out well with the other resources I would be pulling from. I went ahead and printed whatever we needed for those lessons and gathered any materials we would also need. The rest I would purchase from the grocery store once we arrived.
I then moved on to history. I knew that we would be traveling on the day of September 11th, and I cannot read in the car as I get carsick very easily. So, I had planned to cover the details of this tragic day and the aftermath with my children once we had arrived at our destination. I took recommendations and picked up these books from the library: Fireboat, 14 Cows for America, and September Roses.
Speaking of history, I knew we could cover about two chapters in our Story of the World book in the time we would be away, so I went ahead and printed what I needed for those chapters (coloring pages, maps, and my teacher reference pages). I again had already picked up the books I would need from the library and borrowed a couple from friends. We were finishing up some books and audiobooks from our chapters on the British in India, and we were going to be discussing the American Civil War and then Canadian independence.
As for our morning time items, I couldn’t bring everything, so I just brought a few items including our current Bible devotional, my morning exercises book, my daughter’s MFW Bible Reader, a sweet early reader for my six year old, and our bluetooth speaker. I like to use this for classical or worship music as ambient noise and to amplify any audio books, YouTube videos, our science lessons, etc.
We were finishing up Grandfather’s Journey with Five In A Row and were going to begin Very Last First Time which coincidentally takes place in Northern Canada (going along with one of our history chapters). I didn’t know what things we would cover with this book, but I kind of do that on the fly anyway. Sometimes it involves a craft, sometimes it’s just more conversational about different elements of the story, the illustrations, or the literary concepts.
I had three different picture books that were just random selections from the library, the Tales of Shakespeare book by Charles & Mary Lamb (more for my review before anything), a Vincent van Gogh picture book, and our current fun read aloud, Pippi Longstocking.
I knew that I would have to keep open hands with this trip because it’s tempting to want to take everyday as a vacation day while somewhere different than our home. I told the children ahead of time that we would take some time “off of school”, but that my plan was to continue our lessons just like we do at home. I brought all of my 1st grader’s math sheets she would need along with the lesson DVD, but I left her manipulatives at home. My 3rd grader’s math goes wherever we go, so I didn’t need to bring anything for that besides my laptop. As mentioned before, I brought what I thought we would need for science and history (besides a quick trip to the grocery store). As for everything else, it’s all fairly portable. I didn’t bring our All About Reading tiles, but did bring a smaller whiteboard and dry erase markers. Handwriting, language arts, phonics…all contained within the books. I wrote what I thought we could get accomplished down in my planner with pencil for easy movement of lessons. Normal math and language arts lessons per week, a chapter in history per week, a couple science lessons per week and sprinkled in the other fun stuff.
(If you missed it, I have a simple Customizable Homeschool Planner in my shop. Lots of options to make it work for your family, simple enough so that it isn’t overwhelming to use, and easy on the ink as it has a minimalist look and feel.)
So, how well did it go? As I thought it might, the kids were excited to be with family (and their puppy cousins), so gathering for school everyday was a bit of a struggle. I reminded them that we were here to visit, but that we needed to fit in some lesson time as well. The motivation was strong some days and not so much on other days. Can you take a wild guess at what activities were motivating?
You guessed it…food and fun related activities were very motivating. ha! We had a blast, learned a little, got messy, and enjoyed being with those we love. We didn’t get to all of the science lessons, nor did we do more than one chapter in history. We did math everyday and language arts, took a day off one day for a fun park playdate, had other random tea parties, nature walks, whiffle ball sessions in the front yard, and movie breaks a few times. I always tend to set my expectations too high. When we are out of our normal environment I need to learn to be a little more relaxed and understanding. I probably didn’t need to bring ALL. THE. BOOKS with me, but I was afraid my kids would need something to do. HA!
All in all it went well. My children were still learning and growing. They loved the change of scenery and so did I. I’m so thankful that we have the opportunity to take school (and work in my husband’s case) somewhere else for a while to keep the sanity a bit. Especially right now. This year is just weird. And it’s okay to admit that things aren’t going as smoothly as you’d like them to. For me, it’s better that I just embrace the things that are sometimes out of my control, because it’s harder to fight them.
How is the school year going for you? Are you distance/virtual learning in a public school? Are your kids in-person schooling in public school? Are you homeschooling for the first time this year? Are you continuing traditional homeschooling? What’s working? What’s not? Leave a comment below!