Editor’s Note: Lydia Blanco Garza and her family hit the road 299 days ago. This unschooling essay is the first in a four-part series about the trials and tribulations of their not-so-tidy RV life.
by Lydia Blanco-Garza – When we decided to embark on our RV family adventure across the United States, we didn’t really think too much about homeschooling, much less unschooling. Our kids are pretty young, four and five. They had started pre K at a local school in Texas, so taking them out was the first step. I figured we would download the ABC Mouse app, buy a couple of workbooks, and get on some kind of schedule on the road.
I sat them both down and gave them their workbooks. It was fun for them for the first two minutes, but once our son got bored, or our daughter felt like something was too hard, they were done with it. And when I say done, I mean kicking, and screaming, and crying at the mention of getting those books out and working ever again. I was frustrated and all-cried-out myself. We needed a new plan because obviously, this wasn’t working at all.
We started hearing about alternative learning from other RV family groups. Some traveling families were roadschooling – where their destinations became the lesson. And some families were completely unschooling – reinforcing learning what our kids’ choose. After further research, my husband and I were intrigued with the concept of “unschooling”. We decided to give it a try.
We wanted to focus on their interests and help guide their learning that way. We wanted them to discover what works for them. We eased up on our expectations. Expectations we put on the kids and ourselves.
Now, through unschooling, our kids are learning from different people, not just one teacher. They have the whole world as their classroom, and everyone they meet as their classmates.
The biggest challenge we have faced in this unschooling journey is us. The struggle with our preconceived notions of what learning is and what it looks like. The struggle to want them to be “on track with their age level” and trying to keep ourselves from comparing them to other kids their age are real challenges.
Sometimes we find ourselves standing in our own way with our conventional thoughts about education and expectations. Then, we remember to trust that eventually they will learn what they need to learn. But I do believe, generally, we are on the right track.
Our son has learned how to read from playing games on his tablet because he needs to read instructions to move on to the next level. He constructs buildings on Minecraft, and solves problems with Can You Escape:Craft. Socially, he is eager to meet new kids now, and play one-on-one.
Our daughter loves painting, drawing, making up stories, and photography. She has joined the Junior Ranger Program with the National Park Service and loves it! We visit the museums and libraries, and learn about history.
Even going on a hike is educational! Recently my husband pointed out a bee on a flower and asked the kids what it was doing and they enthusiastically shouted “pollinating!” Their unschooling adventure means they’re learning everywhere. Being a full time traveling RV family, geography is a daily part of their learning – they can point out states on a map!
Our goal, with unschooling, is to raise children who have life skills and a genuine interest in learning. And to let them grow into the people they are, not “mold them” into who we want them to be or what an educational system says they should be.
Unschooling means no testing, no grading, and no comparison with each other.
It’s a whole new way to learn, and for now, it works for us.
Lydia Blanco Garza is a former actress and owner of The Blanco Agency, a talent agency in South Texas. She and her husband Ceasar moved out of their house, sold most of their possessions and bought a travel trailer. They are currently traveling all over the United States with their two small kids Nicolas and Ivy. Follow their journey on their YouTube channel and blog: Lights Camper Action.