remote learning

Take your kids’ learning on the road. (Photo: Heather Greenwood)


How to Take Your Family’s Remote Learning Plan on the Road

In 2011, in a quest to get more time with my kids and shed some of life’s stressors, my husband and I pulled them out of school and spent a year traveling the world together.

At the time there was a lot of pushback from strangers who didn’t hesitate to tell me how much of a disservice I was doing my children, who were 6 and 8 years old at the time.

“What about their education?” they asked. “How will they learn?”

The answer turned out to be “constantly” and “at a remarkable pace.”

My kids learned math skills while deciphering currency in China and language skills while ordering gelato in Portugal — my children gained skills they couldn’t get in a classroom, including the chance to see their learning come to life. And from hotel rooms around the world, they used online tools to fill in any gaps.

With many schools across the world now going online as a response to COVID-19, many parents will be managing their children’s education full-time for the first time. And while during most traditional school years teachers struggle to bring the world to the classroom, now — with the right precautions — you could bring your child’s learning out into the world.

Of course, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed at the thought of taking your family’s education plan on the road; but if you’re careful to keep yourself and the communities you’re visiting safe, the opportunity to handle school a little differently could be a good thing.

family in front of palace
Make memories and gain knowledge to last a lifetime. (Photo: Heather Greenwood)

Location Independent Learning

Depending on where you live and what travel protocols are required, where and how you teach your kids offers some room to stretch.

Even if you don’t stray far from home, there are many reasons to consider a location change:

Change of scenery: A new location could make it easier for everyone to refocus after a stressful few months. Changing your space offers a chance to reset.

Upgrade your home base: When you chose your home, you probably weren’t expecting it to be the place you ran board meetings and taught the kids. Choosing a new location is an opportunity to select the space you need now with the Wi-Fi bandwidth to support it.

Build new skills: Self-discipline, inquiry-based thinking (Why do you think that is?) and resiliency are important skills. In new-to-you environments you’ll all be challenged to try new things (food, language, routes) and to figure out new pathways to success.

family looking at mountains
Learn beyond the confines of the classroom. (Photo: Heather Greenwood)

How to Make Remote Learning Successful

Ready to give it a try? These guidelines helped our family find success.

Get familiar with your school curriculum: Understanding your school’s learning goals will make it easier to supplement them. Art history on the agenda? Plan a trip to a virtual museum or stroll an outdoor gallery. Struggling with fractions? A private cooking class rewards great measurements with a sweet treat.

Establish a structured schedule but also embrace flexibility: Sit with your child to create a schedule that works for both of you and stick to it. Late riser in your house? Consider a later start time. (Studies have shown that most teens do better with one.) Knowing your child’s learning style (focus for long periods or shorter stints with lots of breaks) will help, too.

Learn from the experts: The great thing about remote learning is that you aren’t limited to the teachers in your child’s classroom or school. Studying ancient civilizations? A private tour in Egypt won’t hurt. Mastering Spanish? Consider an online pen pal in Spain. Dinosaurs on the schedule? Tune in online to a Canadian paleontologist’s dig.

Real-world connections — in person or virtually — help hammer home the concepts they’re reading about.

unschool with pandas
Always make time to see the pandas. (Photo: Heather Greenwood)

A Few Tools to Help

Keep in mind that you’re far from alone as you set out into this brave new world of remote learning. Plenty of resources exist to ensure your kids receive the education they deserve at home or on the road.

  • Teachers Pay Teachers: Learning resources designed by educators for students from prekindergarten to postsecondary.
  • Prodigy: Online math games and practice opportunities that don’t feel like homework.
  • Khan Academy: Multi-subject tutorials on everything from math to history. A great supplement for getting a deeper understanding of historical events in places you’re visiting.
  • Outschool: Independent teachers lead live online classes that range from hobby interests to subject-specific offerings.
  • Epic: An online reading app that provides kids on the go with more than 40,000 popular options.
  • Scholastic Learn-at-Home: Guided activities for kids aged 4 to 10 in literacy, math and more.

Our family’s year on the road taught us a lot about ourselves and the world around us. Whether you choose to offer your kids a remote learning experience for a few days, a few months or a few years, you are guaranteed to grow, learn and appreciate the many ways that education can happen outside of the classroom.