Back to School (or Schule as we call it)

Last updated: September 27th, 2023 | Originally published: September 15, 2023
Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings

In our artice about roadschooling we discussed how excited we were to put into practice a new way of homeschooling, one where we would utilize the changing environment of our lifestyle as we moved from state to state. This included local history, geology, culture, etc. Part of the decision making process was researching what the other full time families were doing with their kids on the road. So I dove in headfirst, gathering all the information I could.

Probably the best piece of advice I picked up was, “You can’t expect to live a non-traditional lifestyle and keep a conventional style of education for your kids.” It wasn’t going to work to have our children sit in the motorhome six-hours-a-day while we “educated” them. And driving to the library each morning would be a tragic life to lead for all. Besides, the alternative of roadschool was way more exciting!

Our roadschool education lasted about a year. There were victories and there were challenges.

Kansas City Zoo

We kept Parker in his regular online school because he only had one year left until graduation, but roadschool was fair game for the youngest two.

I’m basically a hippy down in my soul. I don’t worry about my kids learning to read and write (and they do rather well). The premise of roadschool is kind of like unschooling, where the kids find their interests and learn to learn about the things that interest them. They then develop a lifelong love of learning because they figure out how they learn best and can seek out the things that naturally inspire them.

That’s a super idealistic way of looking at it.

Royal Gorge, Colorado

The reality is, as long as Youtubers are available on the cellphone, they will forever disallow our kids from getting bored enough to explore their interests. So we take their phones sometimes.

The other reality is, my husband and I are VERY different people. Remember how I said I’m a hippy down to my soul? Well, he’s not. He super admires my free-spirited nature, but that’s not him. He keeps us grounded, keeps our bills paid, stresses all of those things that I don’t have to because he takes care of it all. It works really well for us, but not in a homeschool/roadschool way.

When he was at work we might cover some Good and Beautiful curriculum in the morning, go to the thrift store, go to piano lessons, maybe meet up with another homeschool family. It was super fun! And since I have the easy breezy nature that I do, I didn’t have a care in the world about how they would do in college, or if they are falling behind academically, because ultimately I don’t think it matters.

Pike’s Peak

When the hubs was home, he enjoyed filling in as principle with spelling tests and math lessons that he thought the kids needed. He assigned them weekly essays and taught them how to research and organize information into a logical argument. They preferred my hippy-ish way and rebelled against their dad. It ended up being no fun for any of us.

Also worth mentioning, I became VERY depressed. Like, I had a hard time getting out of bed and staying out of bed while we were living in a hotel for six months. I was sleeping the hours away during the day. It was a super weird thing for this free spirited hippy chick to not have the energy to fulfill my duties as a mother. And then dad the principle had to step in and flex his “educational muscles”.

Downtown Manitou Springs

So… last January we made the decision to re-enroll the kids in their K-12 online school and it was instant relief for everyone. Over the next three months I dug my way out of depression. I never did get on anti-depressants, but I did find out that my thyroid was low. And I feel so much better now!

The past few months the kids did summer school in order to get ahead on their credits (for early graduation). They only had about two weeks off between summer school and the Fall trimester starting, but I can see how aimless they are without the structure of school.

NOTO District, Topeka, KS

Hals is especially driven when she has schoolwork. She is a lot like her dad; she needs the structure of assignments and deadlines in her life (as much as she dreaded Principle Dad’s homework regime).

Apollo needs it, too, but for a different reason. He’s so much like me. He’s probably a weird blend of hippy and anime but it’s all covered under a blanket of autism. The autism needs structure as well. He’s incredibly creative, and his teachers really tap into that.

Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri

I’ll just say, honestly, each of my kid’s teachers are fantastic!  I can attend any online class session that I want. I know exactly what my kids are being taught. If I don’t agree with it, I can give my perspective of how I see this issue and we can discuss it.

I want my kids to be able to decipher angles of an argument and make up their own minds on issues. There are not very many times that I have disagreed with something that my kids are being taught. When the sex ed curriculum comes up, I listen intently. So far, their teaching has not crossed any boundaries that I have not already broached with my kids.

I’m super honest about ALL of it, and my kids know they will get an honest answer if they have any questions about ANYTHING! Seriously. Sometimes they avoid the questions because mom gets a bit too honest (and by honest I mean graphic).

Colorado Springs

The kids have to return to WA for state testing a couple times each year. It’s kind of a pain, but it’s worth it. In fact, we are changing our stop off to go back to WA once our renters move out. It will make the most sense for us to finish out our child rearing years this way. Also, somebody is badly in need of braces, so that’s something that needs a bit more permanence than what we have had over the last two years.

We haven’t stopped “Roadschooling” in terms of showing our kids all the cool history and things to do in each new place we go. Kansas City provided quite an education in our faith’s history, as well as a deeply personal education in KC BBQ.

I don’t think there’s one right way to educate kids. And each family is different. It’s about finding harmony and balance to best meet the needs of each child individually (that’s the hippy in me talking).

Arcade Restaurant, Memphis

I think this plan is the best one that allows my kids the structure they need. It allows me to be the best cheerleader for them as I watch them learn and grow. Halea started Espanol yesterday and was thrilled with herself that she already knew the word Hermano from an episode of Arrested Development.

I’m glad for our challenging homeschool experience. We tried, failed, and recognized that we needed to go in another direction. When I talk to some moms and they say “I could never ….” I think you don’t really know unless you try. If you want to do it, try it. Kids are resilient and forgiving. At least mine are.

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