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When you’re on deputation, school for the kids becomes a bit of a challenge. With trips taking you all around the country, your kids would miss too much school to stay enrolled in a traditional option. To avoid truancy problems, and increase flexibility, homeschooling on deputation becomes a great option.
We’ve been homeschooling for many years, so we didn’t have a huge transition to make when we started deputation. However, there still were some things we tweaked, to make school more doable “on the road.”
To help you manage homeschooling on deputation, here are seven tips.
1. Know the Laws
When you’re homeschooling, it’s important to obey the laws. However, homeschool laws vary from state to state. Rather than trying to keep up with the laws of every state you’re going to be in, the Home School Legal Defense Association recommends obeying the laws of any state you’ll be in for more than one month straight. However, this is only recommended during the school year.
For our family, we are typically in Washington State. However, we came down to Missionary Acres in Missouri for the summer. While we were here for more than a month, school is not in session. That means we can plan on resuming to obey WA state law when we’re back up there in September.
We will file our Declaration with the local school district, and continue to do what we typically do.
The HSLDA website is a great resource for helping you stay up to date with homeschool laws in all 50 states.
2. Think Digital for Curricula
Any homeschooling materials you want to bring along is one more item you need to squeeze into your car or travel trailer. There’s just not enough room for huge stacks of textbook style materials.
We have begun to switch many of the kids’ curricula to digital products. Schoolhouse Teachers is a great option, that’s very budget friendly. For one price, you can use any of their online courses. They have all subjects for all grades, so it can be the only resource you use if you desire.
There are also some great extras included, including menus, seasonal content, and video streaming through RightNow Media. It’s a great deal!
We prefer Teaching Textbooks for math, so most of the kids use that. We buy the CDs so we can use them over and over again, and we’ve also used CTCMath.
There are a variety of apps and games we use as well.
There are so many choices out there for curriculum materials that don’t take up a lot of space. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and see what works for your kids.
But, if there’s something that you already love and use that’s working, don’t feel bad about keeping with it. Even if it takes up space. You don’t want to change everything all at once, especially if it’s working.
3. Take Time to Plan (and Pray!)
When you’re on the road, there’s not always a lot of time for the things you’d like to do. You may have unexpected dinner engagements, or last-minute meetings.
One way you can get ahead is to take the time to plan. Use your time in the car to flip through books or scroll through online products. You can see what your kids need to do for the upcoming week and help them prepare for it.
When you take time to plan, everything goes much more smoothly.
It’s also important to pray about your plans. God knows what your kids need to learn, and can help you as you prepare your kids for their future.
4. Be Flexible
Even the best plans don’t always work out. So, you’ve got to be flexible. Flexibility is so important for all aspects of deputation, including in your homeschool.
If your kids don’t get everything done one week, that’s okay. Move it to the next week. Or skip it.
Maybe you do science one month and social studies the next, instead of trying to do both at once. Or maybe you do core subjects four days a week and take your fifth day to rotate art, music, PE, and all the other things you want to teach.
While we’re on the subject of being flexible, don’t forget that school kids don’t ever finish their entire textbook. Don’t feel bad skipping some of yours.
Your kids aren’t going to miss out on learning or be set up for failure because homeschooling plans go out the window occasionally during deputation.
5. Focus on the Basics
Homeschooling on deputation is tough. There may not be enough time to handle all of the subjects.
It can really help to focus on the basics. If you help your kids build a solid foundation in reading, writing, and math, they will be set to learn anything else in life.
Don’t feel like you have to teach all the things all the time. Your big goal is to teach your kids how to learn and think. Then, they can learn anything to they need to.
6. Remember Life Is Full of Learning
You don’t have to sit down with worksheets and textbooks to teach your kids. Life is full of learning opportunities if you take advantage of them.
Here are a few ideas for each of the core subjects to get your brain going:
- Have a family Reading Time each day where you read for 20 minutes
- Listen to audio books in the car
- Read aloud a book while you’re traveling
- Play literacy based games in the car, such as finding all the letters or thinking of things that start with each letter of the alphabet
- Count everything
- Play math car games
- Play board games and card games (if you have room to bring them along)
- Skip count
- Do drills with multiplication or division facts
- Balance the checkbook together
- Update your support levels together and find percentages
- Listen to historical fiction books
- Stop at museums
- Stay up to date with current world events
- Talk about your family and extended family (look at photos and use all of those family words to connect faces to names)
- Play social studies car games
- Watch historical films (we like the Liberty Kids series)
- Look at the map together
- As you pass different types landforms, talk about them
- Talk about geography
- Learn about the culture of the field you’ll be going to
- Read books about science and scientists
- Make hypothesis about things and do simple experiments
- Follow the weather and learn about weather patterns
- Play science car games
- Watch science TV shows or films (there are some great ones from a biblical perspective you can find from Answers in Genesis!)
7. Explore as You Go
Field trips are such a great way for kids to learn, in a hands-on way. Stop and explore as you travel on deputation.
We were recently in Kansas City, Missouri, and St. Joseph, MO was only an hour away. We had a little time so we drove up there and took the kids to the Pony Express Museum. They learned so much in just a short period of time.
And they had a blast while doing it. It didn’t even feel like learning…
You don’t have to spend a lot of time at these places for it to be an educational experience. And, you don’t need to make it a formal time of learning.
Have fun, and your kids will remember what they learn a lot longer. You can also find ways to extend the learning. For example, when we were done at the museum, we listened to an audio book to help connect all the pieces. We really enjoyed Ralph Moody’s Riders of the Pony Express.
Note: while we paid for this museum, there are almost always free activities in cities that can be field trips. Try to use a search engine and search for: “Free things to do with kids in (city)”
You just may be surprised at what you find.
Also, take advantage of reciprocal agreements if you can. Many zoos and museums allow you to use your season pass from one to get into another. Read the details and make a list of places you can go.
To help save money, you can put these passes on your Christmas lists. 😀
Homeschooling on Deputation
Homeschooling is a huge blessing. It’s so nice to be there for our kids and guide their education. But, it’s also a challenge.
Homeschooling on deputation is even more challenging.
But, if you keep your attitude right, it can be a great time. You can grow closer to God and to your family. And that is a win!