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Travel is an Education : Homeschool at Home, Unschooling on the Road

Travel is an Education : Homeschool at Home, Unschooling on the Road

I’ve talked briefly about how we are homeschooling before. The whole concept is a little ironic. I was homeschooled in high school and feel I didn’t receive nearly as good of an education or experience as I would have in public school. It has made me an outspoken opponent of it, and then… I am currently homeschooling our children. Part of the reasoning lies in my husband’s work schedule. Regular schooling would leave little family time and I think my young children would be hurt by this arrangement. I also feel that travel is the best education our kids can receive.

How does that work? I think a lot of our family travel philosophy would fit into the “unschooling” movement. We attempt to support our children’s interests through travel. We took a week long jaunt to Hawaii to visit Volcanoes National Park because Luke wanted to see a volcano in real life. Claire loves plants and animals, so we try to visit different ecoregions so that she can understand the climate in which both grow and thrive.

But the biggest advantage to me is pure exposure to different surroundings. We try to give a lot of diversity, and spark interest in things that are new to them.

For example these are lessons learned on our last trip, a three day trip to Houston/Galveston :

  • The kids were exposed to space and space travel at Space Center Houston.
  • We learned about Texas history at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
  • We checked out the natural science of beaches, bays and bayous.
  • We observed the power of the sea, and after seeing black sand they remembered from Hawaii, they understood how far the ocean could carry even tiny grains of sand.
  • We looked at the port in Houston and talked about how items travel from manufacturer to consumer.
  • The wall of elements at the Houston Museum of Natural Science was a good tool for introducing the idea of elements and their relationship to everyday products.
  • We found a dead shark on the beach and talked about life, death and decomposition.
  • We learned about the assembly line, factories and supply chains at the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory.
  • They saw the inside of a WWI and WWII battleship which taught them about the cramped quarters of the enlisted men, differences in class between enlisted and officers, and asked questions about why the ship was like its own city.
  • A powerful learning experience was when Claire observed a historical farm house that was light, airy and full of beautiful things. Then she found the slave quarters out back and saw the stark difference in quality and size. That one moment was worth 50 hours of reading about it.

Alamo All that was learned in three days. And those are just the big things! I’m sure there were many more tiny lessons and observations my children made without me realizing it. Did we all have fun doing it? Absolutely! But it doesn’t take much work to feed their little brains.

The education is compoundable as well. Having learned about black sand during a trip last August helped them make connections with what they were seeing the following May. Learning the Declaration of Texas Independence was being discussed and written during the siege at the Alamo, which they visited in January, helped them understand the climate and desperation of the times.

They are 4 and 6. As they get older, the observations should increase and the breadth of their knowledge will grow. We absolutely supplement our travels with more traditional book learning at home. They are also in a lot of enrichment classes and Luke still attends church preschool. But I have a feeling when we look back at these years, we’ll all feel the greatest education they received were in the midst of travel.

Saguaro National Park

Sense of scale is hard to learn from a book.

  1. Jessica 14 May, 2013


  2. Jessica 14 May, 2013

    Great post! It looks like you learned some great things in the most amazing way possible.

  3. andahuff 17 May, 2013

    So do you plan to homeschool/unschool as they get into highschool? I think it is interesting that you say you had an inaedquate education but you are headed down this path.

    • Amy Moore 17 May, 2013

      It is not my intention to homeschool in high school – but I guess never say never 🙂

      I was homeschooled through “do it yourself” workbooks with massive flaws in their teaching. Some of the science taught was completely wrong. Evolution was not talked about as a theory, it was disproven on their pages. History was pretty much Baptist history. Math was a horror. I don’t get it easily, yet I was supposed to figure it out on my own. Spanish was learned from a cassette tape. Fine arts were nonexistent.

      My daughter is in homeschool gymnastics, drama, music, art, and karate through enrichment classes. She is in youth sports through the community. She plays outside almost daily with the neighborhood kids. Except for her reading, we do learning as a family in a fun way. She does a few workbook type activities, but she is definitely not sitting in her room by herself working on her own and SOL if she had a problem like I was. And we travel.

      I’m just taking year by year right now.

  4. Yve Chairez 17 May, 2013

    Thought-provoking post. My daughter is only 3 but my husband I think she has learned so much from our travels and adventures, and seems more aware and more observant than her peers. She’ll be going to public school (I’ll soon be a public school teacher in fashion and humanities) but I think her education definitely needs to be supplemented by traveling. You’ve made a pretty strong argument for homeschooling, though!

  5. Jolanta 5 October, 2014

    What a great post! Our kids have been in public schools so far, but we didn’t hesitate to take them out of school to travel. Just like your kids, mine learned a lot more in the days at SeaWorld, visiting the Alhambra, or Stonehenge, than they would had they been in school those days. On another hand, the topics they discuss in school fuel their desire to see certain places. For instance, my son wanted to see Stonehenge ever since he learned about it in second grade. We can’t go to all the places they learn about, but we’ll do our best.