Road Schooling: From Gettysburg to the Bad Lands of South Dakota

Our journey had but one goal: free ourselves from the madness of the pandemic and give us our sanity back.

My husband and I and our four youngest boys set off on a month-long trip. This, our 25th year homeschooling, ended in a nomadic journey with no clear path. Our 15-passenger van (with a bathroom in the back) and our camping trailer went through time to the civil war where we took a car audio tour through Gettysburg, imagining the fields full of soldiers and smoke. We crossed the prairie where we spent the night on the Ingall’s homestead, drove a pony cart, and made corn cob superheroes (dolls with a cape). We saw amazing wildlife, bison, elk and prairie dogs. We even encountered 2 rattle snakes less than 6’ away on our campsite. We camped on the cliffs of the badlands where my five-year-old declared the view to be “epic.” We really felt like we were traveling through time and learned so much about geography and history. We filled in maps as we crossed each state, and learned a little about each as we passed through them. Seeing Mount Rushmore and Niagara Falls is not something my boys will forget anytime soon.

Road schooling taught us patience with each other, and how to work together in small spaces. Traveling nomadically gave us time to find things like a salt mine, and an old nuclear missile silo. We used Google searches and read signs on the highway to determine where we went next. We covered 19 different states with some laughter, and some tears. It was a 4 1/2 week long field trip with hands on activities and booklets learning about things we saw.

We had some bumps in the road with our van, but those bumps lead us to some amazing places we just never would have found, if we were not broken down or rerouted. I was able to work remotely when we found stable cell service and that is a blessing.

The things the boys have seen and learned go so much further than books ever could.

We also learned that when stuck in Kansas, red sparkly shoes will not take you home. But there is no place like home, we love NH and are be glad to be back in it, until the next trip.

Homeschooling gave us the flexibility to travel and reminded us that education is so much more than curriculum and books.

Think outside the box, next to the box and under the box because you never know what you might find.


By Janet Ellis