Why I took my children on an educational road trip across the USA

An archaeological dig

It was time for a bit of natural history – but no two-a-penny museum for us: instead we made for the Hands On! Discovery Center, an incredible site located smack-bang in the middle of an archaeological dig, with five-million-year-old dinosaur bones still being raised from the ground outside its windows. The focus here is on encouraging visitors to actively engage with the exhibits. As my daughters gazed at specimens under a microscope and nosed around the fossil dig, I chatted to museum CEO Andy Marquart.

“Making museums an extension of the classroom is about encouraging questions, questions and more questions,” I explained. “Instead of sitting back and watching children play, think about how you can interact and problem solve together.” Whatever the ethos, it works. On our way out we passed a lab, full of palaeontologists diligently piecing dinosaurs back together like a complex biological jigsaw puzzle, when a hushed voice – my youngest – came: “Mummy, I want to do that job when I’m older.”

From here, we meandered southwest, back to Charlotte – my husband now so at one with the van that he was practically driving with his knees – and parked up outside Discovery Place Science. I waited for the cries of “Not another museum!”, but they never came – instead I watched as my children bounded through the entrance, excitedly lining up to lie on a bed of nails and assemble a human skeleton, Tetris-style.

They don’t even realize they’re learning, I thought, and therein lies the secret to successful roadschooling: it’s all about finding those gems where education slips below the radar, while the fun takes center stage. I saw my daughters’ interest spark over and over as their schoolwork was brought to life on the road, effortlessly absorbing knowledge as it unfolded in real time. Would I do it again? Of course – though I’ve promised my husband that, next time, we’ll brave the 45-footer.

how to do it

America As You Like It (americaasyoulikeit.com) offers a 17-night Music and Mountains RV holiday from £5,815 for a family of four (two adults and two children, 2-11yrs) including return flights from Heathrow to Charlotte with American Airlines, two nights room only in Charlotte and 15 nights fully inclusive RV rental.

covid-rules

Before boarding a flight to the US, all travelers aged two and over must show a negative Covid test taken no more than one day before travel. On arrival, all travelers must show an ESTA visa waiver (travel.state.gov) and proof of being fully vaccinated. Those aged 17 and under are exempt from the vaccine requirement, but must take a test 3-5 days
after arrival.

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