I homeschool because . . . I travel. This is one of those “which came first, the chicken or the egg” situations. It’s hard to determine which inspired which as our main reason for deciding to homeschool really didn’t have anything to do with traveling. Yet, it came about somewhat simultaneously. Today, I can’t imagine life without our traveling homeschool adventures.
I’ve always been a wanderer. I LOVE traveling and new adventures and did plenty of it prior to having children. When the kids came along, my husband Mark and I were comfortably settled in our little island community enjoying busy careers. It made perfect sense to start our three boys at the tiny island school.
It didn’t take long for us to discover that it wasn’t a good fit for us. What a shock to the system! I went from career mom with a nanny . . . to a coupon clipping, mini-van driving, homeschool mom pretty much overnight.
Much in the way that He often does in closing doors and opening windows, God presented an opportunity for me to begin a new endeavor. Writing columns for local newspapers and magazines would contribute to our budget while allowing me to stay with my children. So, while I was trying to learn what this whole homeschooling thing was all about, I was bringing my boys along on these “one tank trips” and local adventures.
The Traveling Homeschool Adventures Begin
About that time, a homeschooling friend told me not to worry about curriculum (at least for a while) and to go ahead and enjoy playing and learning together in real life situations. My real-life situations happened to be very conducive to field trips, day trips, parks, rivers, lakes, beaches – you get the idea.
And thus, our traveling homeschool adventures were born! Who would have guessed that the three years or so of writing would have such an impact on how we homeschool, even more than ten years later?
I found out quite by accident that hands on learning, field trips, nature walks, and all manner of educational adventures hold more value for us than box-type curriculum. By inspiring and nurturing a love of learning, by looking at each day as an opportunity to discover a new adventure – we had set the path for a successful homeschool experience.
The idea grew with us, and before long, we began writing Adventures Interactive Unit Studies to share our hands on adventure learning with other homeschool families. Again, who could have guessed this would lead to the opportunity to travel and share with other families at homeschool conventions around the country? God’s plan is ALWAYS better than my plan!
We often will read ahead of time to learn about the animals, history, geography and other important facts about an area before we travel. When we arrive, I’ve mapped out our plans to include a lot of rich history, local culture, natural science, and much more.
I’ve shared with families around the country one story that really stands out as an example for this style of learning. We had read about World War I and II, Vietnam, and the Korean War. We had studied heroes and individuals who made sacrifices and made a difference. But, it wasn’t until we were on our way home from a homeschool convention a couple of years ago that the depth of such sacrifice really hit home for our boys.
My daddy, the boys’ granddaddy, served in the Vietnam War. Our kids have been taught to respect what that means both in the past, and today. Near the Alabama, Mississippi line along the coast, you can tour the USS Alabama WWII ship and there is a little memorial park. Pictured above, my boys are reading the names off the Vietnam Memorial. These are the young men and women who served, and never returned home from the state of Alabama. It’s a lot of names. It was a powerful moment, and in that moment, I saw the recognition, realization, and solemn respect in their eyes – like no amount of book reading can instill. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE books and we have plenty of them. But standing before those monuments, reading off the names of the soldiers who had given their lives, knowing that they were all just from THAT STATE and so many more had been lost – It WAS POWERFUL! They GOT IT. They really truly understood in that moment.
Over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to tour Washington DC, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. We’ve been to museums, art galleries, state parks, national parks, mom and pop road side parks and museums, tours, camps, caves, and aquariums. We’ve been down rivers, up mountains, and through valleys. We’ve walked where Daniel Boone cut a trail, we’ve white water rafted and camped where Louis and Clark had been before us. We’ve searched for gold in the woods and rivers and have experienced all manner of adventures.
We camped out and got to watch as the last Space Shuttle cut through the Florida sky, and we stood on the battlefield grounds in Virginia for the October 19, 2017 celebration at Yorktown, where the British and Cornwallis laid down their arms and surrendered in 1781.
Mostly, we’ve enjoyed the time together. We’ve discussed every aspect of the events which have shaped our Nation and the rest of the world. I’ve gotten to experience first-hand that special twinkling of the eye and expression which takes over when my boys REALLY get hold of an idea or event. Seeing them come to full realization about events in history or watching as they show wide-eyed wonder as a butterfly breaks free from its chrysalis – every adventure is precious.
Each adventure has helped to teach them to think for themselves. Each has taught them that there is much to discover and learn all around them. Each new discovery helps to inspire them to seek more knowledge, because learning is truly fun.
These moments – this is the good stuff. My boys were so young when we began, and now the oldest is taking college classes during his junior year of high school . . . at home. I have made plenty of mistakes along the way, but this is how we learn and grow together. In the process I’m teaching them to question, to seek for themselves, and to appreciate both the little things and the big. They are learning to look both inside themselves, and to look beyond themselves at the bigger picture.
THIS IS WHY I had children, so that we could learn, and grow, and discover the big wide world, while experiencing life together. I’m so very thankful that God closed the doors that needed closing and opened the doors to this life of travel and adventure homeschooling.
Kelli Becton is an accidental homeschool mom of three boys in southwest Florida. She and her husband, Mark didn’t plan to homeschool their kiddos, but thankfully, God had other plans. They began their journey about twelve years ago and are now working on college plans! Their adventure lifestyle has been conducive to traveling and learning together as they explore God’s creation. Kelli publishes Adventures Interactive Unit Studies to share this hands on style of learning fun!
This article is part of the I Homeschool Because . . . series. Click here to read other articles in this series, download the free eBook, You Can Do It, Too: 25 homeschool families share their stories, and enter a giveaway from Kiwi Crate valued at more than $200.