Today’s fabulous guest post comes to us from our friend Christy who is a fellow roadschooling Mom. Her experiences are quite different than any other we’ve featured on this blog before. We hope you enjoy this post!
I suppose you could say travel and learning are in my blood. I can blame/thank my parents for that.
It all started when I was a young girl in the Mother’s Day Out program our church had. My father came home one day, the day of the Columbine Shootings, and told my mum she was going to home school me. At first, she didn’t know much about homeschooling. She had been public schooled and had an associates degree in Business Management. She started our home school as public school, but at home, requiring us to sit still at our desks.
I wasn’t having any of that. I believe I would have been thought of as ADHD or ADD (and I still would) if I had been enrolled in public school. I would not sit still. I remember getting up and moving around just about every five minutes. Eventually, my mum realized that homeschooling did not and was not supposed to be like public schooling at home. She relaxed her style.
My father was an adventurer. Having been a high school drop out, he studied computers and electronics and taught himself martial arts. But the traveling. We went a multitude of places on our vacations. And not the kiddie places or amusement parks. We traveled (by car!) to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Carlsbad, and places all around Oklahoma. My mum and my daddy taught me and my brother all they could on these trips. My mum taught us math by giving us an allowance each day on the trip to spend on items we wanted, and told us that it could add up by the end of the trip if we let it. She also had lapbooks for us (though I don’t think that they were called that at the time) for me and my brother to practice our letters and to draw in if we became bored. My daddy taught us how to set trip line traps and how to hunt rabbits with a hot dog roaster.
I was four years old when my daddy told me I could travel on trips with him in his truck when I turned five, as that was his company’s policy. Needless to say, I never wanted to grow another year older so badly. As soon as I was old enough, his company changed its policy. My daddy, ready to have more freedom than being a company driver would allow him, changed companies. With his new company, I started my first adventure with him on the truck. I can still remember how it felt. Excitement bubbled out of my young body. I would sit in the passenger seat, looking out at the passing world, listening to the radio and talking with my daddy about anything and everything. When school age came around, I also had schoolwork to do. My mum would prepare a lesson plan to tell me what I needed to be doing while I traveled.
My brother also had his turn to travel on the road with my daddy in his truck. I did not like having to stay home with my mum, though we would do fun things there. It was not the same as traveling. Wanderlust had bit me and I was hooked.
Eventually, when I was seven or eight, my mum quit her job working at UPS at night. My daddy had switched again to another company, having bought a truck, and he now was an owner operator with more say where he could go. She, my daddy, my brother, our cat, and I started traveling on the road. Even with a 72 inch sleeper, there wasn’t much room. My brother and I would do our schoolwork, each taking turns with our mum to sit in the front seat.
We went so many places! I remember learning about nature in rest areas, stopping at national parks, swimming in rivers, climbing hills, playing in the ocean… There were so many things we did.
We learned by asking questions too.
“Daddy, why is the water shooting out of that rock?” I had asked when we were going through The Great Smokey Mountains.
“There are underground rivers and when the pressure builds, water comes spurting out of the cracks in the rocks,” he had replied. Of course, my little girl self then imagined tubing down an underground river and coming spurting out of holes in the rocks.
We learned about volcanoes, lava flows, and steam vents. Once, we had just entered Oregon. The ground around the road was steaming. I asked him why. He shrugged and replied, “We are in volcano country.” I imagined walking on the ground and the rubber on the bottom of my shoes melting.
In some of the rest areas, there was plenty of room to run and dance and explore. We once found a baby bird that had fallen out of it’s nest, that happened to be under a gazebo. My daddy lifted me on his shoulders and I put it back in the nest, much to the disappointment of my brother.
Eventually my brother and I grew too big to share a bunk and we were back to traveling with my daddy one at a time. My mum went too, just with my daddy sometimes, and they left us at our grandparents.
When my daddy was home, after we could not all fit on the truck anymore, we would usually go camping at our favorite refuge: The Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. There we would hike and explore, discovering caves, mines, and the occasional rattlesnake.
We learned so much, not only as a family, but as individuals too. Most of all, we learned love and adventure. I was worldschooled, I see now. I traveled around 46 of the fifty states growing up, learning in each one. And I cannot thank my parents enough for teaching me that way.
Christy Vassar grew up all around the USA traveling with her family. She is an advocate for homeschooling and worldschooling. When she isn’t writing, she’s either thinking about writing or working as a librarian at the local library. Now she makes her home with her husband in Woodward, Oklahoma, dreaming and planning to travel again. You can follow Christy and her journey at her blog here or on facebook.