Homeschooling was never part of our plan. In fact, it was never even on my radar as something I would choose to do. But, a cross country move set us on a path to “try it” for kindergarten for our son. It went so well we’re still doing it ten years later. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace our own journey, a mash up of educational styles and immersive learning experiences that I call adventure schooling. Heavy emphasis on the adventure. Some of our favorite ways to learn are by diving deep and taking a trip to further our studies. Here are three of our most favorite immersive learning vacations! This post contains affiliate links.

What is adventure schooling?

It’s exactly what it sounds like, taking our homeschool journey and infusing it with adventure. Adventure schooling can look like many different things and include many things. For us, that most often means hopping in the car to visit a museum, explore outdoors, or take a roadtrip to someplace we studied. It can be as simple as taking your reading to a local park and letting your kids climb trees and identify leaves. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But, if you want it to be big and bold, go for it! That’s how we like it too.

Why do we homeschool?

It’s really not what we set out to do. But, a cross country move placed us in a new to us part of the country and very far away from family. While we felt unsettled about our schooling choices, we decided to homeschool for my son’s kindergarten year, just to see how it went. It wasn’t without its tears, from all parties (my daughter was a toddler), but it worked. So much so that we stuck with it. Within two years we had a very solid grasp on our why and I hit my stride as an adventure schooling homeschool Mom. Here are three reasons why we stay adventure schooling:

  • 1) We live VERY far from all of our family. Homeschooling gives us the flexibility to see family more than we would have if we chose the traditional school route and only had short windows of time to travel.
  • 2) Weekday flexibility. This is an umbrella reason for so many positive aspects of homeschooling. I can set up our week to fit our lives and our schedule. We can take day trips and work trips during the week. My children can have lessons for their sports during the daytime (tennis) and we can move lessons around as needed.
  • 3) The time we have gained back as a family and the experiences we get to enjoy together.
  • 4) Bonus – the freedom to follow curiosity streams, passions, and interests.

How I found my stride as a homeschool Mom.

When I say found my stride, don’t think it happened right away. My stride came after two years of tripping, stumbling, choosing the wrong paths, and wandering my way into what worked for us. It came after tears of frustration when I couldn’t make my heart and teaching style fit into a box (of the big box homeschool curriculum variety). My stride happened to be found on dirt paths, trails, deep in the woods, in our canoe, or up a creek somewhere. It was with great literature, deep conversation, and digging into the rhythms of our lives and the seasons around us. Mostly, I found my stride in adventure schooling when I let go of striving to be something that I’m not, or trying to fit into a stereotype of homeschool Mom found on social media. Embracing my style of homeschool allowed us to unchain ourselves from what it was supposed to look like and our journey took flight.

Just as finding our path in the homeschool world took some trial and error, we’ve also tried many different curriculum. At the heart of our homeschool, we are Charlotte Mason inspired, meaning we love good books and immersive story telling. One of the best homeschool curriculum we’ve found is Beautiful Feet Books. They have subjects and studies for many grade levels and our family has loved every single one of them. Perhaps the most impactful study for us was the one we did was the Hollings Geography through Literature study. These studies feature stories from Holling C. Hollings. They’re living books, as Charlotte Mason would classify them, and they take the reader on a journey. These journeys include tangents that you can explore as much or as little as you would like. We took those tangents to their end and beyond with immersive learning, adventure schooling road trips!

Paddle to the Sea: A Great Lakes Journey.

The first book journey we went on was with Paddle to the Sea. A story that follows a little toy canoe as it moves from Nipigon, Ontario, through the Great Lakes and out onto the sea. It’s a charming story that enthralled my children from the very first chapter. The book is part of the Hollings Collection from Beautiful Feet Books and I highly recommend adding the map as well. We painted our own little canoes (found at Hobby Lobby) and slowly journeyed through the story, one chapter per week until we were done. At the close, we took an adventure that took us beyond the pages and to the actual places we read about. That adventure even included an actual park in Nipigon, Ontario that has a series of playgrounds dedicated to Paddle to the Sea! Over the course of two trips, we explored all around the Great Lakes region. You can read about our full Paddle to the Sea homeschool adventure here. Some of our favorite stops were:

Adventure Schooling: The Santa Fe Trail.

Our second study through story that we took on the road explored the Santa Fe Trail. Tree in the Trail, another book by Holling C. Hollings, explores 200 years of history that occurs around a Cottonwood tree on the Santa Fe Trail. The trail connected Franklin, Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico as a trade and supplies route from roughly 1820 to 1880. Tree in the Trail is a wonderful book and we enjoyed how the story centers around the tree as the tale expands. Our adventure schooling journey took us across part of northern New Mexico. I will never forget how excited my kids were to march around the historic Santa Fe square and reminisce about how the story ended. Some of our favorite stops were:

To read more about our experience with living history Santa Fe and the Tree in the Trail, read this full trip report.

Wild horses: An Assateague Island adventure.

If you’re looking for a fun elective for your upper elementary or middle school aged students, I highly recommend the Beautiful Feet Books History of the Horse. It’s a really fun deep dive into some equine focused literature, such as the beloved book Misty of Chincoteague. It’s a series that I adored as a child and it was just as fun to read it again with my children. We’ve read the whole series. Not long after doing so, we had an opportunity to travel to Virginia and I couldn’t pass up the chance for an adventure schooling detour to Assateague Island National Seashore. For the full Misty of Chincoteague adventure, read this blog post. Confession: we did not visit the Museum of Chincoteague. Why? Because they have the pony that inspired the story of Misty preserved, and honestly, my children might have been terrified of it. So, we skipped that. If you’re okay with seeing the preserved ponies, then definitely add it to your list. Here’s what we enjoyed:

Two more book journeys to consider.

There are two other books that we’ve read in the Beautiful Feet Books geography study that we loved. One we’ve already taken a trip to explore for, and one that is yet to happen. The first, Pagoo, follows the life of a little Hermit crab in a tide pool. After finishing the book we added a side trip from Arizona to Crystal Cove State Park, near Laguna Beach, California. I checked the tide charts and we got up at 5 AM to go explore the pools at low tide while the sun came up. It’s a memory we still talk about regularly, especially because we found several little “Pagoos!” The second book, Minn of the Mississippi is next on our adventure list! We’ve completed reading the book, which is a charming story about a snapping turtle who travels the length of the Mississippi River. We are planning a Great River Road adventure schooling road trip and we are so excited for it! Stay tuned for that big adventure.

Intentional travel.

At it’s heart, adventure schooling is intentional travel. It’s looking at your family vacations through a lens of what you’re studying. You can plan a trip to a destination based on what you’re studying, or find ways to incorporate learning into your travels. Another way we enrich our learning is by adding in an adventure day once per week. One time, we took a trip to check out ancient Egypt in Texas at the Houston natural history museum, because we were in our ancient history cycle for our schooling. It was an incredible experience! My favorite thing about adventure schooling is that you get to decide what it looks like for you, for your family, and for your homeschool journey. Wishing you many wonderful adventures!

Adventure schooling, at it’s heart, is choosing to see your educational journey as a process to be fully immersed in, wherever you might be. It can be as big and active, or as focused and quiet as you want it to be. It is YOUR journey and you get to decide what you want it to look like.

About the author.

Nichole is a writer, content creator, and family travel and adventure influencer residing in southwest Arkansas. Though her and her husband (Ryan) are originally from the midwest, they’ve lived in Arkansas for ten years now and are thrilled to call it home. They have homeschooled their children from the beginning of their educational journey. They have a now 13 year old son and 10 year old daughter, along with a one year Direwolf Dog puppy named Levi. Nichole is an avid outdoor adventurer and road tripper and has been taking her kids on adventures by herself since they were infants, it’s all part of what she calls being responsibly brave. She is also on the Executive Team for Run Wild My Child and has contributed to Wild and Free. Be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with all of their shenanigans.