Welcome to Day 4 of our Travel is… series!
Even before we made the decision to homeschool, travel and learning while traveling was a priority for our family. Since our son (now 14) was born, my husband’s job has afforded us many opportunities to visit Washington DC on a yearly basis, as well as other great cities. Often, we extend these business trips a few extra days, taking advantage of free hotel nights or other expenses that have already been mostly covered, to visit towns such as Jamestown and Yorktown.
Over the past few years we have even made our straight vacation time an extension of our homeschooling, visiting such places as the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, FL, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, and the College of the Ozarks near Branson, MO.
There are so many benefits for the homeschool family, but today I’ll share my top five reasons travel is our favorite way to homeschool.
1. Travel makes history come alive!
History is my son’s learning passion. It is not unusual to find him buried in a book about World War II or watching a video about the providential beginnings of the United States of America. Like most boys, he is fascinated by all things war — battles, artillery, weaponry, strategy, and heroic figures. He is fascinated by elections and who has been President. He is in awe by those who have given their lives for our freedoms.
It has been amazing for him to visit places such as the Patriot’s Point, U.S. Space and Rocket Center, National World War II Museum, the Patton Museum, many Civil War battlefields including Fort Sumter, Presidential homes like Mount Vernon, Monticello and Hermitage, as well as Lincoln’s Birthplace, and Truman’s Presidential Library.
When you are standing in Arlington National Cemetery, watching the changing of the guard or spending a few quiet moments at JFK’s gravesite, history becomes real, not just something that happened a long time ago. When my son reads about World War II heroes and then has the opportunity to actually meet some and ask questions, it is not just a time of learning, it is life-changing.
2. Travel creates many opportunities for hands-on science!
Next to history, my son loves science best, especially animal science. For many years, he thought he wanted to be a veterinarian or marine biologist. Our travels have taken us to many science and natural history museums, botanical gardens, a turtle hospital, a marine hospital, countless zoos and aquariums, a butterfly conservatory, several caves, an oceanography center, a geological park, snorkeling along a coral reef, a bird sanctuary, and the Florida Everglades.
While it’s fun to look through pictures of animals and plants in books, there is just no comparison to being able to see and touch them live and in person. I have watched the big-eyed expression in my son’s eyes as he pet a dolphin, snorkelsed along a coral reef looking at colorful fish you can only see in the ocean, dug for fossils, and walked among injured pelicans. There really is no book that can replace those kinds of experiences.
3. Travel teaches us about the many cultures that make up the United States!
We all know the U. S. is a melting pot of cultures, but in our day-to-day lives in Kentucky, we don’t really notice it so much. But take a trip down to New Orleans and immediately find ourselves exposed to the Cajun/Creole culture. In Miami, the influence of the dominant Hispanic culture is as obvious at the grocery store deli worker who spoke to us in Spanish before realizing we were English-speaking. We love taking the time to speak with the “natives” and learn what is different about how they live compared to our traditional “southern” style here at home. We are always looking for local festivals to attend, concerts to hear, and love discovering the arts and crafts that will teach more about a culture different from our own. That even happens close to home as we spend time in a different part of our state where Bluegrass music and mountain dulcimers abound.
4. Travel gives us the opportunity to learn when trying new foods!
This might be one of our favorite aspects of travel. You will rarely find us at a “chain” restaurant when we are visiting another state. We purposefully seek out the “local” eateries where we can taste foods not easily found in Kentucky. Cuban sandwiches, shrimp and grits, Po-boy sandwiches, beignets, New York-style pizza, fresh lobster, and many other foods not only tickle our palate, but give us opportunity to discover more about the local culture. For example, why is New Orleans known for beignets (a food with an obvious French name)? A quick study of the people native to that area reveals Creole/Cajun heritage has French roots. Not only do they have their own foods, they also have their own music and folkways. And now we’re off on a history and geography rabbit trail, all because we stopped at Cafe du Monde for a beignet.
5. Travel allows us to experience many aspects of God’s glorious creation!
Almost always, our trips are taken by car. Even if we have had the need to fly to some destinations, there is usually a car on the other end for exploring. From the car, we have seen grazing farm animals and wildlife, incredible rock formations, majestic mountains, emerald seas, and gorgeous sunsets. During our adventures we have experienced the mountains of Tennessee and West Virginia, the Everglades and coral reefs of Florida, the beaches of Virginia and South Carolina, and the caves of Kentucky and Indiana. We have observed, touched, hiked, swam, studied and breathed in so much of creation.
As you can see, travel has become a lifestyle of learning for our whole family. And because learning happens in a delight-directed, child-led manner at our house, using travel as an extension of homeschooling as given my son a deeper, richer understanding of all these topics that have piqued his interest and much more. I simply cannot imagine what the past 9 years of homeschooling would have been like without these amazing adventures!
Please click the image below to see the other posts in this series.
Marcy Crabtree spent nearly 15 years as an Ob nurse, sometimes juggling homeschooling with the job she calls her first ministry. Grateful that her main ministry today is at home, she has been married to Tom for 17 years, and is 14-year-old Ben’s proud momma. Her homeschool style is delight-directed with lots of unit studies, lapbooks and notebooks. She is greatly influenced by Charlotte Mason’s love of living books. If she ever writes a book herself, it’s likely to be titled “Homeschooling by the Field Trip Method,” though homeschooling by the “rabbit trail” method might be more befitting. She blogs about homeschooling, faith, biblical parenting, and ADHD on her blog, Ben and Me. She would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.