Living the Homeschool Adventure in an RV: Tonya's Interview

Tonya and her family are from Ohio but for the past 4 years she and her family have been traveling around together in an RV. She writes about their travels on her Live The Adventure blog.

Here is a photo she sent in that shows, from Left to right Joshua, 14, Nickolaus, 16 and Chelsea 13, taking a break from an important creek exploration endeavor:

Let's see what other activities they've done during their explorations traveling in their RV...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

My husband and I have homeschooled our three children for the past 11 years. With the exception of preschool for the older two, they’ve never been in a typical school setting and only attended preschool that one brief year because I had a panic attack and decided that NO Way could I ever homeschool my children.

At the time I simply did not realize that homeschooling would have been just more of the same things I was already doing with my children, reading tons of picture books, counting Cheerios, creating beautiful tiny masterpieces using finger paints, riding bikes and exploring nature at the park. So away to “school” they went, one of the biggest mistakes I’d yet to make.

They spent the year sick, with every imaginable ailment they could catch from the snotty nosed 4 and 5 year olds. I spent the year immersed in homeschooling how to books, websites and catalogs and just bided my time looking forward to the adventure ahead.

Since my children are so close in age, they all started school at the same time. So though only one was of compulsory age, the other two begged me to homeschool them as well. So I did and it’s been all fun and games since then….well…not exactly….

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

I’m grateful that homeschooling has allowed me flexibility, especially in the curriculum and methods I’ve used over the years. Like many who have been raised with a public school background, what I detested became a blueprint for our homeschool. I bought textbooks, workbooks and a school desk and thought the more structured we were the better. Well, it wasn’t long before we were all in tears and my boys wanted to go back to preschool where school was fun.

I realized that I needed to put some fun in our school. I remembered what I had read in my research and decided we’d try a unit study, then we’d follow the philosophy of Charlotte Mason. Eventually we decided to unschool. If you ask me now, I’d say we take an eclectic Charlotte Mason/Unschooling approach to school.

I’m a huge fan of reading and believe that if my kids can read, they can learn anything they need or want to know. But reading did not come easy to my boys. I struggled in vain to teach them for years before we finally found a reading specialist that suggested they see a special eye doctor. It turned out that they both needed extensive vision therapy, though one has 20/20 vision. Their eyes just don’t focus the same way mine do. I don’t know how many times the specialists I saw told me to be thankful that my boys were schooled at home. They would have easily slipped through the cracks in a public school setting- plus, we’d have to deal with other issues that could go along with that, such acting out and other behavioral problems.

Finally, homeschooling has allowed my family the benefit of traveling full-time with my husband’s job for the past four years. Had we chosen not to homeschool, this never would have been an option for our family. My family would have been split apart as my husband traveled and the kids and I were left at home. Now we don’t have to wait to see him on weekends for a short visit, we are with him wherever he goes. This lifestyle has really enhanced our homeschooling experience because not only are we able to travel with my husband, we are able to see things that before we’d only read about in books.

3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

I just love to be with my kids- I think they’re fun! My daughter jokes that she brings ‘fun-tertainment’ to the family; and she’s right, she certainly does. Living in the close quarters of our motor home, we certainly all need to have a sense of humor.

When I asked my children for their opinions on what's been fun, they reminded me of many of the trips we’ve taken. When we were learning about early America and the Revolutionary War we were able to visit Jamestown, Yorktown, Colonial Williamsburg and many other historic sites in Virginia.

We found a lost kitty at the lost colony of Roanoke, camped at the site of a Civil War battle and read the journal of a soldier who fought there while studying bullets and other artifacts that had been found on the grounds, and spent a terrifying night amidst the Wild Ponies at Assateague Island National Seashore after reading Misty of Chincoteague.

When my children think back to their homeschooling experience, they’ll remember many of the trips that we’ve taken that have become a way of life for our family.

4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

I’ll never forget how fun our unit study of Ancient Egypt was about five years ago before we began traveling. While we were home, I was the Queen of Projects so we completed just about everything I could think of during the course of our unit.

One of our favorite activities was to mummify an orange and apple. After carefully, ceremoniously wrapping the mummies in muslin dipped in a water/glue solution, we placed the mummies on the front porch to dry and headed out to run some errands. Imagine our surprise to find an entire flock of black crows pecking at our mummies upon our return home! The kids were horrified and then made jokes about their mummies not making it to the afterlife.

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