How National Parks Are Helping Roadschooling Families
The new school year is in full swing. For all those roadschooling families, it’s a whole year of learning on the go coupled with exploring new places and opening up to unique experiences.
The National Park Service (NPS) recognizes the importance of exploration and development as a process of learning. It offers an endless array of ways parents can bring the stories, environments, and delights of our national parks to life at home. Families can later revisit and incorporate those lessons into real-world context while visiting a park.
Through hands-on learning, the NPS provides a slew of online resources to supplement curricula that roadschooling families already use and/or introduce subjects surrounding our parks. These resources include:
“…everyday objects can act as cultural resources that bring history to life.”National Park Foundation
The NPS preserves millions of artifacts to learn about the past. Parents can focus on these artifacts as the centerpiece for a lesson. For example, roadschooling families can search through homesteading case files to discover the lives of those who moved West.
For added convenience, the NPS offers detailed lesson plans and loans out educational material covering various subject areas for different grade levels and according to Common Core Standards.
“…the National Park Foundation supports a variety of wildlife protection and conservation efforts.”National Park Foundation
One way to prepare your roadschooling family for a trip to a national park is to learn about the animals, fish, and plants that inhabit the area. When parents visit a national park’s page via National Park Service, there is typically a “Learn About the Park” drop-down menu. Among the items on the menu are educational activities relative to the park, including learning about wildlife.
Depending on where they are headed, roadschooling families can study up on their visit by learning park wildlife ABCs, taking a virtual walk among park wildflowers, learning how to spot invasive species, playing backyard bird bingo, or practicing exhaling like a whale.
“…sometimes historians must unearth stories and histories from the ground up!”National Park Foundation
Through programs like Junior Archeologist or Junior Paleontologist, young explorers can understand different professions and learn how these professionals gather information about the past through new discoveries. These programs require participants to complete a set number of activities in a booklet before receiving a badge of completion.
“Parks are a natural laboratory to explore science….”National Park Foundation
Not only can roadschooling families find activities and lessons about wildlife on a park’s website, but they can also complete fun challenges about the science behind natural phenomena in specific locations, astronomy, weather patterns, conservation, and more. There are even science Junior Ranger programs, including Night Skies Explorer and Spaceflight Explorer.
For more information on the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program and how kiddos of all ages can earn badges on-site at parks or through virtual learning, check out this video by homeschooling mom Christine Zell from This Bit of Life.
Crafts, personal accounts, and more
“…petroglyphs, photographs, and artistic representations….help us in telling a full story of a place’s history and culture.”National Park Foundation
There are more ways that roadschooling families can reflect upon the national parks and their history. For example, children can create art pieces relative to a particular park/location like a winter count, nature poetry, or a parfleche.
Another method of learning about history is through oral accounts. Kids can learn about their own history by interviewing family members and asking about their life. Roadschooling families can also work together to create a family tree.
Another resource for roadschooling families
Of course, some of the best learning takes place in “real-world” scenarios, and that’s one of the main reasons roadschooling families choose the lifestyle. National parks offer so many programs and activities for folks of all ages to explore and discover on-site. Coupled with online supplemental learning, roadschooling families have the opportunity to benefit in many ways from their national park visit.
Yet another beneficial resource for roadschooling families is RV LIFE Trip Wizard. With its accompanying RV LIFE GPS App, this trusted online planning tool can help RVers navigate safely to their next national park destination with RV-friendly directions.
Natalie Henley is a freelance writer and has also been full-time RVing with her husband and pets since 2015. She covers a wide range of topics from RV lifestyle, RVing tips, DIY projects, RV news, and more.