With many schools offering remote learning this year, a growing number of families are planning to “road school,” which has children attending virtual classes while on extended family trips. Others are homeschooling, with parents teaching children while families travel, often living in an RV while they visit national parks and other educational sites.
“Right now is the perfect time to try this,” says Karen King, who founded Worldschooling Central (worldschoolingcentral.com), which connects a community of 6,000 families. “When you use the world as your classroom, every minute of every day is an opportunity to learn.”
King, an Australian who has been traveling for nearly six years with her husband and two children, shares some popular road schooling sites with USA TODAY.California’s Central Coast
Since you’re going to be driving anyway, why not explore the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the most beautiful roads in the world? From the wild landscape of Big Sur to the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery in San Simeon to agricultural walking tours in Monterey County, there’s plenty to see and learn when kids aren’t logged on to their home classroom. “There’s just the sheer volume of things to do along the way. It’s such an incredible part of the world.”
More information: Highway1DiscoveryRoute.com
Civil Rights Trail
This summer’s protests have renewed interest in the historic civil rights movement. The U.S. Civil Rights Trail links more than 100 locations across 15 states and the District of Columbia. Key sites include museums and parks memorializing the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama; the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter sit-ins; and the Memphis site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. “This makes history come to life for kids,” King says.
More information: civilrightstrail.com
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Families can get a real-world look at marine science and coastal ecology while exploring New England’s sandy beaches, salt marshes and tidal flats. “There’s a variety of different areas, and kids are able to immerse themselves in nature,” King says. “As families experience new things, questions arise, which lead to interesting discussions and further research.”
More information: capecodchamber.org
One of the original 13 colonies, the southeast state is popular with world schooling families. From colonial history to presidential homes, U.S. history can literally come alive at places like Williamsburg, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Or explore the outdoors and learn about energy at places like the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine in Tazwell or a Dominion Energy nuclear power plant.
More information: virginia.org
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and Montana
With its geysers, hot springs and wildlife, Yellowstone is a road schooling favorite. “There’s so much natural science and biology in one place,” King says. The park’s Junior Ranger programs are particularly popular. “National parks are one of the biggest reasons to tour the U.S. from a learning perspective.”
More information: nps.gov/yell
With history, art and culture, visiting families can find plenty to engage their children. Centennial Park has the Georgia Aquarium, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the World of Coca-Cola, all within walking distance. Other families love the Center for Puppetry Arts. “It makes for great learning experiences. The variety is huge,” King says.
More information: atlanta.net
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, California
One of the advantages of road schooling is being able to explore the outdoors instead of staying cooped up in a classroom. King’s world school community loves the hiking opportunities in this national park renowned for its towering trees. “There are options for self-guided and ranger-guided hikes,” King says.
More information: nps.gov/seki and VisitVisalia.com
Not only is the nation’s capital a living civics lesson, it’s also a bargain for road schoolers. With all the monuments on the National Mall – not to mention plenty of open space, it’s easy to learn history. About half of the Smithsonian museums are still closed, but will again lure families when they reopen because they’re free. “There’s just the sheer volume of things to do,” King says.
More information: washington.org
Road schooling is much more than visiting tourist attractions, but King says they do have a place. Orlando-area theme parks allow kids to have an incredible time while still learning. “It’s set up to be a tourist hub and you can pick and choose among what your kids are interested in,” King says. For example, her children became fascinated with reptiles after a visit to Gatorland. “The learning goes well behind the surface level.”
More information: visitorlando.com
New York City
Road schoolers can stay outside the city, or even spring for a hotel in Manhattan, where bargain rates are plentiful. And while Broadway may be closed, many museums are open, along with city parks. It’s easy to learn about architecture, art and international cuisines. “Parents are able to find something to support their child’s interests, no matter what that might be,” King says.
More information: nycgo.com