This year, students could hit both the road and the books. That’s because pandemic disruptions have allowed some families to take in a change of scenery—with school on the side. By choice or out of need, many students are becoming road scholars.
Across the United States, businesses are reopening. But ever-changing guidelines and fresh coronavirus outbreaks have created doubt about returning to normal. Hardly anywhere is that more obvious than in our schools. Schools have opened, closed, and reopened. Students have attended half days, partial weeks, or not at all.
The uncertainty has begun a trend: schoolcations. Armed with laptops, iPads, and internet hotspots, students are mixing learning with road trips—in RVs, rental cabins, even five-star resorts.
Texans Amanda Poses and her husband allowed 13-year-old Addison to attend school from Park City, Utah, in September. Family members rode horses, hiked, and zip-lined. They also went tubing and enjoyed an alpine slide.
Poses sees schoolcations as a one-off. “God willing,” she says, “we don’t have the opportunity to do this again.”
There was some learning, but “I ended up skipping like half of my classes,” Addison smiles.
So-called schoolcations can offer valuable experiences, whether families are roughing it at campsites or heading to ritzy resorts.
Anna Khazenzon, a data and learning scientist, says weeks stuck at home for school—on top of months of pandemic restrictions—could cause student burnout. She says, “There are many learning benefits for taking children on schoolcations.” Plus, weary students “may not be engaged in class at all.”
To meet a growing need, some hotels are jumping on the road-school bandwagon. They’re offering study halls, field trips, and tech support for distance learners at their properties. One Florida resort offers on-site educators to cover local topics, such as area history and marine life.
Jayson and Tammy Brown have taken schoolcations for years. Jayde, Jay’Elle, and Jayson Brown have traveled the world, studying along the way.
Before the pandemic, 13-year-old Jay’Elle was studying the Mideast, so the family visited Israel. Jayson studied rock formations there.
In South Africa, the family researched Nelson Mandela, visiting the leader’s former prison and a military fort, now a museum.
These days, the Browns stay closer to home and make sure their budding scholars log on to school when necessary. “We stay on them for sure,” their dad says.
What do the kids think?
Jay’Elle appreciates “being able to experience firsthand what I’m actually learning in class.”
Florida resort director Lee Rekas notes, “Family vacations are the new field trip.”