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Despite the name, homeschooling often does not mean schooling at home. Sports, museums, music lessons, doctor appointments (just to name a few), all have us on the road frequently. Wouldn’t it be nice to sneak in some educational work while you’re out and about? Especially if you live outside the city and have to drive 30-60 minutes to get anywhere?
Hence, the wonders of ‘Car Schooling’. These are my quick and easy ways to sneak in some extra learning while on the go.
This is an easy one- any book they can read in the car is free game. The more printed word being soaked up the better. My car at times has looked like a tornado hit a library, but the kids are reading, so it’s all good. You can also incorporate book games like soduko, mad libs, or crosswords. Any activity that works the brain and builds those synapse connections. A recent favorite that is not school-oriented in the traditional sense is Where’s Waldo. It isn’t reading the written word, but does cause the child to concentrate with intensity and paying attention to detail.
#2 Books on CD or Audible
CDs are the old school version, but work just as well and the library still has lots of them. Especially if you have a longer drive and a multi-disc changer, this can be really helpful as you will get through longer chunks of the book at one time.
The only downside to Audible.com’s service is it tether’s you to a device to continue listening to it! I know I’ve had days where I thought, “I can’t wait for my commute so I can get back to my book.” But this is a good thing. The same can be true for our kids as well if we provide that literary bait.
#3. DVDs (the good kind)
First off, I don’t like handheld screens in the car. But I think the occasional educational DVD has its place. While it does increase the screen time, I think the knowledge transfer is there for particular movies and shows.
‘The Magic School Bus’
OK- Confession Time. I feel horribly guilty about this because I love science, but I’ll admit I hate when the kids want me to read one of ‘The Magic School Bus’ books to them. All of the characters talking in different bubbles on the page and the information all spread out- it’s not a very readable-aloud layout. I do smile and acquiesce and read the darn thing, silently hoping they’ll choose a book with just a straight story line next time, but here’s where the show comes in.
All of the science without the annoying page layout. My kids literally beg for these shows. One evening I thought it would be fun to watch a movie and tried to convince them to watch ‘The Secret Life of Pets’, and all I got was, “Please Mama, let’s watch ‘The Magic School Bus’!!!!” I mean, come on, how are you going to argue with that?!? Fine, kids- let’s learn about states of matter. Seriously, Mrs. Frizzle will unleash her siren song of science on your kids and they won’t be able to resist it!
‘Popular Mechanics for Kids’
This show was produced in Canada from 1997-2005. It’s another one they beg to watch. The topics are extremely varied, and much like the magazine ‘Popular Mechanics’, it gives insight into how things are made and how they work. As a bonus, the kids on the show aren’t annoying, and look like they are genuinely enjoying the experiences they get to have as part of hosting the show. Wait, that girl looks really familiar… it’s a young Elisha Cuthbert! Cool start to acting.
‘Rock ‘n Learn’ – Especially the ‘Sight Words’ for Phonics and Reading
We have some of the math ones, and the kids will watch them, but they don’t beg for them like they do with the ‘Sight Words’. I plan to try some of their science ones as the kids get older. I think the ‘Time Telling’ and ‘Money’ DVDs are more engaging than addition or subtraction facts. They have definitely tried to make the math more engaging though, and I will admit I’ve had the songs stuck in my head before which I guess is the whole point…
Especially for the pre-reader younger set, these are great as they are learning the alphabet and letter sounds. There are also versions that teach numbers.
#4. Dry-Erase Flash Cards
You can laminate flash cards and have them run through a set on the way to a sports practice. You can also make it even easier by using this tip from First Grade Blueskies, and just throw them in a photo album. It works for simpler addition to subtraction or multiplication and division. ‘Drill and Kill’ is no longer en-vogue in teaching circles, but sometimes you just need to practice the math facts and get them in your head. I definitely would recommend the WASHABLE dry-erase markers though. No one wants to be scrubbing marker out of the seats.
#5. Just Talk
It may not seem like “school”, but getting to know our kids is really one of the reasons we chose homeschooling. It is sooooo easy to fall into the trap of trying to cram something deemed ‘educational’ into every little moment, or feel as if we aren’t doing enough. However, I can’t underestimate the importance of just slowing down sometimes to enjoy each other’s company. Building camaraderie and working on our relationship with our kids is one of the keys to making homeschooling both fun and easier. It gives you some extra pull when you are trying to convince them to work on the subject that they reeeaaally don’t want to do. And as an added bonus, kids are pretty funny, so you will likely be entertained too.
Stuck on what to talk about? Try the ‘Would You Rather…’ type questions. “Would you rather go to the beach or go snow skiing?” “Would you rather eat hot dogs every day for a year or never be able to eat hot dogs again?” “Would you rather travel by boat or by car?” Etc… It’s always fun to hear the reasoning behind their answers, and the different personality traits among your kids come out.
Good Luck and Happy Schooling!