Monday, February 1, 2016

Homeschooling When...You Move Around A lot

My husband is a tie-in foreman for pipeline construction. His job requires us to move around. A lot. Most of his jobs last anywhere from 2-8 months. They are usually more than a day's drive from our home in Louisiana. He works 6 or 7 days a week, 12 or more hours a day, so if we want to see him then we travel with him.

We've been doing this for around 7 years now. We have been to numerous states {some more than once!} and made many friends along the way.

Is it easy? Not always. It's not fun to uproot our family several times a year. It's not fun trying to find a furnished house or apartment to rent while we are away. It's not fun to be away from our family, friends, church, and house for extended periods.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. It would be torture to not see my husband for months at a time, not to mention him having to be away from us! I firmly believe that our family should be together, all the time. Therefore, we travel with him. Several times a year. To many different places.

Back to the topic... How do we homeschool when we move around a lot? The easy answer is - we take our books with us! It's not so simple, though! With 5 kids, it's not feasible to pack a ton of curriculum, books, manipulatives, educational toys, puzzles, maps, globes, games - you get the idea! We usually have a limited amount of cargo space - my husband's truck and my Yukon XL. Loaded down with five kids and two adults and plastic tubs of stuff and more stuff and even more stuff!

I don't take every piece of our curriculum when we travel {and yet, I always come home with way more stuff than I brought...hmm...}. It's hard to pare down the essentials {because I want to bring it all!} and there is always something I really regret not bringing with me {which is why we have double and triple of a lot of stuff!}.

I am going to share my tips and advice for homeschooling when you travel a lot.

1.) Find the local library. This is so important, that I usually google the library in the town we will be in before we even get there! Some states require different things to obtain a library card - always find out those requirements before you go. Having a library card makes it so easy when you need a book for school. Plus we never pack any books {other than curriculum books} which saves space! The kids love going to a new library for the first time. We always make friends with the librarians, too. That way they are more forgiving when we check out, oh, 40 books a week, or make use of the inter-library loans, or {gasp} tear a page out of a book!

2.) Find local museums and exhibits. We always make use of the awesome field trips available! Sometimes there are little hidden gems that are a lot of fun and educational. It feels like a big vacation sometimes.

3.) Pack only the most-used manipulatives. It is so hard for the decide which manipulatives I will bring. I usually pack counting cubes and bears, pattern blocks and cards, and letter and number tiles. We use these quite often, especially with Silas in Kindergarten and Mercie in 2nd grade. I would never have enough room to pack everything we use, so I paid attention to what we pulled out the most and these made the cut. You could always use dry beans or pennies!

4.) Find the local thrift store. I don't pack any board games, but I do allow room to bring some home. We always hit the local Goodwill store or thrift store and usually hit the jackpot on 99 cent board games. We bought a {brand-new} "Name That State" game and "Geografacts" game in the last place we were. These games are at least $30 on Amazon! We also find lots of educational books - kids dictionaries, Spanish words, atlases and more for around 50 cents each. {This is why I always go home with more than I bring...}

5.) Use a curriculum that doesn't require many extras. This is the first year that my kids aren't using the same core curriculum. It was a shock when I had to pack everything up {I bought it while we were on a job}. I won't make that mistake again! Eli, my 5th grader, is using Heart of Dakota's Bigger Hearts for His Glory. His books would fill up an entire plastic tub by themselves! That is not feasible for traveling, so we will be doing something different when the time comes to travel again. I really want to combine them for history, science, and geography again, as it not only makes traveling easier, it makes homeschooling easier.

6.) Use e-books. While I don't have an e-reader or even a tablet {double gasp!}, my oldest daughter has a tablet that was given to her. I will put a lot of her required reading on the tablet to cut back on books that we must pack. If your children like using e-readers, you could do this to save space.

7.) Use the Thinking Tree Journals! These journals don't take much space, and all they require to use them are library books. Talk about saving space!

Homeschooling when we travel so often isn't easy, but keeping my family together is important! I hope this helped someone in my situation.

How Do I Homeschool When ... ?


  1. Wow Megan, great job. I can imagine how hard it can be at times. I have a hard time and we don't move. We do have a lot of stuff in storage though :( Sometimes I end up buying something we all ready have because I just can't find it.

    Great post!

    1. Thank you! It is hard sometimes, but it's worth it in the end. We get to see a lot of neat places and do a lot of cool things.

    2. Sooo worth it. That's not something that everyone can do. It's like a once in a lifetime thing - really.

      I have often dreamed about RVing around the U.S. It would be fun to take school on the road and see so many places.

  2. That all sounds amazing! What an opportunity to see and experience life and culture in many states. My husband goes away for work (on occasion for a week or two) and we occasionally join him. Since it's so infrequent we are able to leave our books behind completely and treat it as a vacation with lots of museum and cultural field trips. It sure sounds like you have it down to a science. I love the tip of looking through different good will stores for games and books!

    1. We have found some really neat games and books at the Goodwill stores! Thank you.

  3. Great tips, whether you have to move around like this often or not. Even for going on a vacation, these are super helpful. We love our library and we love finding new libraries, even if we can't check out from them. I'll bet you find lots of neat field trip sites as well! - Lori

  4. what great ideas! Need to remember these. :) hmm.. pinning I think...