I am a very proud former roadschooled kid.
I embrace the uniqueness, the social awkwardness, and everything that comes with it because I think that growing up roadschooled is pretty much the best thing ever.
From ages 11-17, I grew up living and traveling in an RV full-time around the US with my parents. Though I was a bit hesitant about the whole idea at first (I mean I was giving up my dream of being in the high school drum core), I came to realize just how cool roadschool life could be.
Here are my personal 5 favorite perks of growing up roadschooled:
You can study whatever you want (because you can be your own teacher!)
Now this may not apply to everyone. It all depends on your curriculum or method of road schooling. But however you roadschool, these kids have wayyy more freedom than public school kids.
I had a fairly strict self-taught curriculum through middle school and high school, but outside of that, we supplemented my studies with all kinds of books, field trips, camps, and experiences!
Yes I studied the normal studies like Algebra, English, and Biology, but I also added my own spin on them to make things a bit more interesting. Here’s a few of my favorite classes from The School of Kelsey:
- Acting (playing the baby cow at Chick-fil-A events)
- History (participating in Civil War reenactments)
- Cultural Studies (attending a 9 day peace camp with hippie children from around the world — I came back very zen)
- Music (competing in songwriting competitions and serenading my crushes with bold displays of affection)
- Science (attending a week long anatomy camp, in hopes of propelling my future career as a marsupial geneticist)
- Finance (completing Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace homeschool program. My parents made me wait a year to get this until I “caught up” with other subjects. I felt this was a bit unnecessary. I mean how many 16 year olds beg for a curriculum on debt free living??)
You get to go on awesome adventures (and some itchy misadventures)
The summer I turned 15 was full of memorable experiences. I participated in a Civil War reenactment, went on a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and went to peace camp with 100 kids from around the world.
It was also the summer of bugs. All kinds of terrible bugs…
Within a matter of weeks, I managed to have run ins with ticks, fleas, chiggers, and lice.
Here is a short series of unfortunate itchy events:
Incident 1: It’s a windy summer day in Missouri. We are on a leisurely walk through a field of prairie grass when suddenly we realize that we are covered head to toe in ticks, which are literally flying through the air. Ticks are EVERYWHERE. Panic ensues.
Incident 2: I’m studying at my grandparent’s new home one afternoon and have the honor of discovering that the house is infested with fleas. Fleas make a home in my backpack and plague me for days. Lovely.
Incident 3: I finally make it to peace camp! We have so much fun and even have a mud fight on day three of camp (I know very peaceful). Entire camp wakes up the next morning, completely covered in chiggers. We learn how to make a difference in the world and bond over our collective itchiness for the next 6 days.
Incident 4: A girl in my cabin is afraid to sleep in her own bed, so we take turns letting her sleep in a different bed each night. The day after camp, she calls each of us to say she has lice. We most likely all have lice too. Her friend in another cabin also has lice. So starts the Peace Camp Lice Scare of 2008. Thankfully, we catch it in time. I don’t get lice and I get to keep my hair!
I look back fondly on the summer of 2008, yet I still get a feeling of creepy crawlies when I think about it.
You can pull the “homeschooled” card when you do something weird in front of public school kids
Homeschoolers get a bad reputation for being socially awkward around their peers. In some cases, this can be a bit true. You don’t get much exposure to kids your own age, so you don’t get as much practice, especially if you are out traveling all the time.
But I also think that roadschoolers can use this stereotype to their advantage. All kids this age go through their own weird phases, but we have an excuse that public schooled kids don’t have! We can get away with more personality quirks. I know I did.
In middle school, I was really into British teen novels, particularly the Georgia Nicholson series. In each book, teenage Georgia teaches you her own slang terms. Whether they were commonly used terms in England or completely made up, I didn’t know. I adopted them as my own just the same because how could Georgia steer me wrong?
As often as possible, I would casually drop phrases like “blimey O’Riley’s trousers!”, “Ho hum pigs bum”, and “chilly bananas” into conversation. My best friend, a cheerleader who went to public school in a beach-front California town, found this behavior very strange. But she assumed it was normal homeschool kid behavior and loved me anyways for my very “unique” personality, which I thought was very “double cool with knobs” of her 😀
You can take “normal” kid experiences to a whole new level
People ask me all the time if I feel like I missed out on “normal” childhood and public school experiences.
I say that I experienced some of the best parts of high school, but took it to a whole new level. I did the “normal” things like having a social life, extra curricular activities, dating, driver’s ed, having a job, going to prom, etc.
Growing up roadschooled, I just did each of these things a bit differently…
- I met my first boyfriend at a Civil War reenactment in Indiana. He was from the North and I was from the South. It was quite the scandal.
- While other kids were in band, I was playing up to 5 open mic nights a week — from restaurants, to coffee shops, to the occasional biker bar! (They really liked my teeny bopper songs)
- Instead of driver’s ed, my parents enrolled me in Skip Barber racing school in Vermont. I was voted “most cautious driver”.
- I couldn’t get a part-time job on the road, so I volunteered as a story time reader for Barnes & Noble. I was paid in smiles and coloring pages.
- I got into a coveted songwriting competition, which ended up being the same night as my prom. So I did both and got to perform in my prom dress and cowboy boots before heading off to the dance.
It makes you an all around fascinating person
Overall, road schooling is a truly unique experience. You have the freedom to explore, to learn, and to live a different type of life. It gives you such a diverse set of experiences, which makes you so much more relatable to other people.
It also makes you pretty fascinating!
I enjoy having a unique background and I didn’t realize the full potential of this until I got into college. I may not have had AP classes or a GPA going into school, but all of my teachers knew who I was. Apparently, you don’t meet a roadschooled kid every day!
What once made the public school kids give me funny looks was now my most interesting trait. It made me very memorable and my friends all thought it was super cool.
Having a diverse set of interests led to starting a student organization to cure boredom, becoming a research assistant, producing a musical about Bigfoot, finding an internship across the country, and so much more. It’s like I was still living the road schooling philosophy.
Growing up roadschooled even impacted my graduation ceremony. The dean of my college chose me to represent our graduating class. She stood in front of a stadium full of people and talked about my roadschooled upbringing and how this was my first ever graduation ceremony.
I joke that I graduated top of my class in high school (since there wasn’t any competition!). But at my college graduation, I didn’t have to joke because I was awarded the honor of highest GPA in my major.
I felt like I made a personal win for roadschooling that day, but the best part was being recognized for just being me. I wouldn’t change a thing about my upbringing. I wouldn’t change the moving around, the grading my own homework, the long distance relationships, the adventures, or the misadventures (even the itchy ones).
It’s all part of my story and it’s all part of why growing up roadschooled is the best thing ever 🙂
Do you roadschool your kids? How do you think they’re turning out?
Kelsey Henry is a singer/songwriter, podcaster, and digital nomad from Texas. She is the host of The Positively Delighted Show podcast and blogs about positivity at PositivelyDelighted.com. From ages 11-17, she traveled full time in an RV with her parents, documenting her adventures of travel and roadschooling through music. She recently released her latest album, “Music & Lyrics”, which features the song “Travel Junkie” and “Free”, inspired by her roadschool upbringing.
Her music is available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon. Plus you can learn more about the music and buy on my website here: https://www.positivelydelighted.com/musicandlyrics
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