As someone who loves the way travel affects and evolves language I was immediately drawn to an article by Malea, of the blog “M and J in a Nutshell“, on the topic of carschooling. While Malea shares her experience of homeschooling on the road during her family’s move across the country I couldn’t help but think just how beneficial carschooling could be to not only children, but also parents and travelers in general.
Basically carschooling is just what is sounds like, creating a learning environment while traveling. While some parents/people may find the thought of classroom-type learning while on vacation daunting, traveling can actually make education extremely accessible.
It is often said that traveling makes people more enlightened and well-rounded, so what better situation to learn in? It’s all in how you use the resources the trip gives you. Who needs a textbook (although you can still bring them along) when you can visit historical sites, art galleries, museums, and sporting events in person?
There’s also the planning phase of the trip, which can be an education opportunity in itself. For example, the maps. What route will you take? Geography. What sites will you visit? History and culture. How long will it take you to get to each city and how will this work in your budget? Math.
Then there is the natural landscape and man made structures you pass along the way. Trees, mountains, lakes, churches, farms, tools, and factories are all great prompts for an education conversation. Discuss the people of the region and how they get food. Talk about the dangers of pesticides in crops and the architecture of different buildings. Give a Biology lesson by discussing the flora and fauna of a city. And, don’t be afraid to be the teacher and the student; if you don’t know something research it or ask someone.
It’s also important to get out of the carschool sometimes and visit historical sites, museums, churches, galleries, and parks to explore them inside and out. How much more will you learn with an interactive Earth Science lesson through a mountain hike than by simply looking at rocks through your car window? And, for a dose of social skills, make sure to interact with new and interesting people. Waitresses, hotel owners, tour guides, park rangers, market sellers, and anyone else you come into contact with can be ideal sources of local information.
But, what about taking notes? While traditional classrooms often have students keep notebooks, travelers often keep journals. Diaries can help carschoolers take notes in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’re preparing for a test. You can also give them (or yourself) an incentive or goal to work towards. Maybe you’ll make a scrapbook after the trip, so you’ll need tons of photos and facts, or maybe you’ll create some kind of travel trivia game. Whatever you decide, keep it fun and educational, just like traveling.