Raise your hand if you have ever felt like you were "carschooling" rather than homeschooling! My hand is up!! Library time, ballet, soccer practice, piano lessons, swim practice, co-op, CBS, and trips to visit family, just to name a few commitments that have dominated the "have to" category over the last few years for our family.
"Bring your math book!" is unfortunately heard just as often as, "Snuggle right here next to me on the couch!" My early Charlotte Mason dreams of gentle, organic homeschooling still live on in my mind, even as I throw our bags into the minivan and watch to make sure everyone is inside before slugging the door shut.
If you haven't already discovered the secret of whole-family, productive, and fun car time, it is time to reclaim those miles!
1. Ask good questions! No "yes" or "no" responses allowed. Ask your kids what they liked best about breakfast. Ask them what they are looking forward to about the activity that you are driving towards. Ask them what surprised them most in their history lesson this morning. Ask them what family traditions do they most look forward to about an upcoming holiday. Their answers may surprise you!
2. Activity! Ask them to write their favorite color in cursive on the condensation on the car windows. Ask them to skip count the 7's facts, then high five their brother for him to then skip count the 8's, then on to the 9's, etc. Keep a gyro toy in the car, and have it passed to the person to operate while they recite their Bible verse.
3. Archive! Keep a list of facts to review in the front seat of the car, and as the Queen of the Car decree that no music or games may be played until you review for x minutes! This could be a list of spelling words, or school facts to memorize. (Timeline facts, anyone?!) We now keep a small box of "SAT" words to memorize, and each child has to form their own sentence using their newly acquired word, after the definition has been guessed and discussed.
4. A Capella...or not! Sing your geography!! Sing Bible verses or good hymns. Sing math facts or the orchestra song! Sing the "50 Nifty United States" song! Sing patriotic songs, Christmas songs, or songs in a foreign language! (May I suggest anything from Alain Le Lait on YouTube for French basics?)
5. Audio Books! Have your children become enchanted with the world of Adventures in Odyssey yet? Have you frequented your library's Audio Book section recently? You'll find everything from basic, beginner chapter books, to childrens' classics like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, to epic sagas like The Count of Monte Cristo! Whether the stories have been made into audio dramas, such as Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre Productions based on history like The Hiding Place, or present the author simply reading the work himself, it will become easy to look forward to your time in the car!
6. Advanced Preparation! We have all heard the anonymous quote, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." So true, even in the realm of homeschool-car-travel! Don't let your frazled exhaustion win the day! Perhaps you should rotate your strategies choosing one of the above options for specific days! (Mondays, we answer good questions. Tuesdays, we sing our geography songs. Fridays, we practice math facts.) Perhaps you will get so excited about your audio book, that it will expand your car time into a rolling imagination station! Perhaps you will implement my 3rd suggestion, and require just a bit of academic participation at the beginning of each trip!
However you choose to spend your time in the car, let me encourage you to be active in your choosing! Our days can seem so long, but we know in our hearts that this time with our children will be short. Don't let the tyranny of the schedule rule your car time...be intentional! If nothing else, be intentional with your smiles. :-)
James 1:17 Reminds of where the gifts of each day come from. Psalm 90:20 reminds us to use our time wisely.
One of my favorite songs, one of those that make me full on cry (in a good way!), is by Chris Rice: Life Means So Much. Click here for one YouTube link with the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZbEAZ5KUM0
Praying for the greater community of homeschool moms out there! Choose to be a blessing to your little (and not so little) ones as you roll through your days.
"Every day is a gift, we've been given...make the most of your time, every minute you're living." Chris Rice
What are your favorite car-time activities? Sound-off in the comments, below!