Mobile Bay Ferry Gulf Shores

How I Road Schooled on Alabama's Beaches

Learn from traveling experts on how to school effectively while on the road. Learn six tips for road schooling to try for yourself and your family this year.

We are road school warriors. We’ve been doing it for nearly a decade and even decided to take our efforts on the road full time this year as we travel the country in an RV.

One of our favorite road school destinations is Alabama’s beaches. Here are six tips for road schooling, based on our amazing adventure in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

Dolphins Orange Beach

Consider Your Need for Internet

Do you want your road schooling adventure to include a virtual classroom? Are you using a digital curriculum? If these things are important to you, you’ll want to find accommodations that make the internet available.

We don’t use a virtual classroom or an online curriculum, but WiFi is still essential. Once when we stopped at Gulf State Park, we found several new-to-us sea creatures. We took photos, and then when we were back in the hotel room, the boys looked them up online and wrote an informal report on them. We were also able to find a documentary about them on YouTube. Internet required. 

Bring Resources to Leverage Your Location

It’s easy to bring resources from home if you’ve got them. When we visited Gulf Shores, we brought books about wild weather and dolphins. 

When we last visited, the SpaceX Dragon capsule had just landed less than 10 miles away. That was a great lead-in into our study on Neil Armstrong, so we packed that workbook also.

What books, workbooks, projects, or ideas can you bring from home that tie into the unique features of the place you visit?

Fort Morgan Gulf Shores

Leverage the Edu-Tainment Opportunities in the Area

The best part about road schooling is not that you can open a workbook on the road, but that you can use the resources in the area to see, touch, smell, and feel your way through a learning experience.

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo offers a multitude of educational opportunities like feeding giraffes or holding kangaroos. Our youngest drove a catamaran with Sail Wild Hearts, and our oldest took to mapping out how sailboats can run faster than the wind (hello, physics).

From Historic Fort Morgan to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, there are myriad learning opportunities along Alabama’s beaches. You could spend a week there and not get to them all.

Rely on Others to Help Teach the Kids

One of my favorite ways to road school is to take advantage of others who are smarter than me.

When our boys fed giraffes, the zoo trainer gave them the scoop! Why the two giraffes are different sizes, why their tongue is rough, what they eat in the wild, how they prepare food at the zoo, giraffe temperaments, and so much more. 

Park Rangers are always a go-to resource for us, but if the pandemic has canceled ranger talks, look for self-guided resources online. For example, Fort Morgan has a great self-guided tour and map of the fort that the kids can use. 

Have them hold the phone or iPad and tell you what they find at each stop of the map. Teaching is, after all, one of the great ways to learn.

The Only Way to Fail is to Avoid Trying 

That’s a message for your kids and you. You’re going to try books you hate, programs the kids think are boring and “lame.” You’re going to be excited about things the kids hate and hate a few things the kids are excited about. 

Some days you’re going to feel on top of the world, and other days you’re going to wonder if you’re failing them. But you’re going to keep trying. You’re going to keep loving. You’re going to keep pressing forward. 

I think one of the most valuable lessons hubs and I try to be an example of is that failing is OK!

“Failing” gets a bad wrap; “trying” is always the goal, and the outcome always teaches us a lesson, regardless of what that outcome may be. 

Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Skip a School Schedule; Embrace Your Daily Routine 

Why? Because Murphy’s Law is a real thing. 

As a family that travels full-time, we don’t have a school schedule, but we embrace routines. For example, we usually wake between 6:30 and 7:30. Everyone starts with alone time when waking up (thank goodness we all agree on this).

As I write this, it is Saturday, which means hubby (Dan) works out in the morning while I make breakfast. Any formal learning (re: math) happens before lunch. This evening is my yoga class (virtual means I can do it on the road), so Dan makes their dinner and talks more in-depth about the questions that came up today. Then we all have family time together.

Do our routines get wonky and messed up? Yes, but not very often. If we had a "schedule," though, it would be in vain. Routines mean that when something happens – good or bad – we can adjust for it easily. 

Math at 9 a.m. every day? It’s just not going to happen because we might have stayed up late the previous night to watch a meteor shower. Or we might have 9 a.m. Family Camp with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. But math sometime after breakfast and before lunch? That’s easy to accomplish.

Do you have more tips for road schooling with kids? We want to hear them, and we’d also love for you to follow our road school antics! You can find us on Instagram at 365AtlantaTraveler.

Leslie Peterson Gulf Shores AL
Leslie Peterson (32 Posts)
Lesli Peterson, Owner/Founder of 365 Atlanta Traveler, made her way to Atlanta more than 20 years ago, after living in Germany, Japan and six U.S. states. She relishes the discovery of obscure,…

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