Learning by Default: Homeschooling on the Road

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By Annie Rueb

October 27, 2021



Learning by Default: Homeschooling on the Road

We are huge believers that kids enhance your life and travel dreams instead of hindering you or holding you back. 

When I was pregnant, we backpacked in Europe and hiked mountains in Arizona. When our girls were infants, we took them tent camping, hiking, and exploring every chance we got. They grew up going on adventures anytime we had a day off. 

When we decided to do travel nursing, we knew they would adapt well to the continuation of their current lifestyle. That wasn’t the scary part. What intimidated us was the immense responsibility of educating them along the way.

We are both nurses but decided that I would homeschool the girls while their Dad took nursing contracts. This would bring an element of consistency to our lives that we could all rely on. I’m a nurse, I love kids, but I am not a teacher. I have incredible respect for teachers and all that they do, and that respect continues to grow on a daily basis.

Learning by default

As we continue to navigate this part of our lives, we have begun to understand that as we travel, our kids are learning by default. 

They are learning to be kind and to have the confidence to make a friend and try new things. 

They are learning to love the Earth and growing a deep drive to protect it. 

They are learning about geography and weather as we travel from state to state, from coast to coast, and from deserts to rain forests. 

They are learning about different cultures, people, and foods in various parts of the United States. 

They are National Park experts and thrive in natural environments. They are great at spotting animals and learning about each one as we go. 

They are learning so much about history.

They hike in indigenous lands and on trails where battles once took place. They see the changes made by civil rights activists and have witnessed current fights for equality and conservation. They’ve walked where Benjamin Franklin has walked. They’ve been inside the Statue of Liberty and seen the immigration process on Ellis Island. They’ve seen the lava path that Mt. St Helens created when it erupted. The list goes on. 

School is all around us. So, by default, they are learning. 

I know these experiences are more important than anything I teach them. But I still want to teach them. I want them to be confident readers and writers, understand math and push for more answers in science. 

So, we homeschool. After doing this for almost two years, I finally feel a tiny bit more comfortable. We are in a rhythm and have found a 2nd and 4th-grade curriculum that is challenging, interactive, and fun for all of us. I teach them while their Dad is on shift. We typically have school days 3-4 days a week for 4-6 hours per day, depending on the week. We follow a secular-based structured curriculum, and I have the ability to speed things up and slow things down based on their needs. We do a lot of reading and listen to audiobooks throughout the day. And luckily, we live in campgrounds, so going outside to play between subjects is super easy. 

They socialize all the time.

They interact with kids that we meet everywhere we go. They have learned to seize the moment and make a friend when they have the chance. They stay in touch with their friends from home and new friends they have found along the way. They write letters and make phone calls and hang on to the hope that our paths will cross again.  These friends are all of different ages and backgrounds and might have completely different interests. But that’s the beauty of it. They find common ground and enjoy the time they have together. 


Despite all of this, I doubt myself constantly.  Teaching them is not easy. I can’t even pretend that it is.  I hold the weight of the world on my shoulders when it comes to their education. I’m always worried that they will be behind in writing or that I’m not teaching them division correctly. I worry they are missing out on something. Maybe it is impossible to avoid this kind of doubt.


I am their mother, their teacher, their playmate, their activity planner… I am so many roles to them that sometimes it’s hard for me to switch back and forth. And wow, do I need a break sometimes!! But let me tell you how hard it is to snag some alone time in a motorhome…  


That is when I cling to the fact that I know they are also learning by default. I remind myself that they are growing all the time and absorbing so much of the world around them. 


They are learning to be the globally minded, kind, and adventurous humans that we only hoped and dreamed for them to be. 

So for anyone out there considering travel nursing with kids, do it! Even if the homeschool part is scary. Remember that they learn so much by default, and you can have fun with some basic homeschool as you go. 

And as a bonus, they will teach you more than you could ever imagine. 

We hope you found this article from Annie and her family on homeschooling on the road helpful. Are you a travel nurse family that homeschools? How do you make it work? Do you have any tips to share? Comment them below.

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