Homeschooling on the road

We are experimenting with our family by traveling for a year. After living the pandemic 2019-2022 in Butte, Montana and the Trump administration culture wars we were interested in striking out to see new lands. Our family is a dad, mom, and three teens.

Niles and I in Tierra de Colores near Cuevo de Las Manos

One teen absolutely did not want to travel with us. She tested out to earn her diploma before we left when she would have been a Senior and started looking for work and a place to live. At seventeen she is living independently which has been her personality’s will since she was 18 months and decidedly said, “I’ll dress myself!”

Niles and Vivian at the vibrant Tierra de Colores

My 18 year old daughter, Vivian, graduated highschool and suggested the trip to be a gap year for her and that we all do it together. We, as a family, decided on “doing the PanAm highway”. It’s a route a person can travel North to South or South to North in a vehicle except for the Darian Gap between Colombia and Panama. And, because the highway goes up the West coast of South America in general, it skips Brasil which is the only country that doesn’t speak Spanish as it’s primary language. Six months into our travels, we all are learning Spanish and, I think, 1will continue to learn after this trip.

Due to many factors, we have changed our route plan and have been spending most of our time in Colombia, Uruguay and Argentina with brief trips into Chile. We are 6 months into the travel time, about 3 months have been in our campers.

My son is the one who falls into the need for traveling and studying on the road to complete his Freshman year. Two factors influenced his selection of homeschool curriculum on the road. 1: He wanted to return to Butte for his Sophomore year which had the consequence of needing to adhere to Montana Board of Education rules for curriculum. 2: Cost, BYU was slightly less expensive than Foster, the only two online accredited schools recognized by Montana.

Nile’s English course instructions

Currently, we are being pushed by foul weather in Patagonia, North towards Mendoza, Argentina. This has meant revisiting some of the same spots we hit going South. Today 3/6/23, we will go to Tierra de Colores in Parque National Patagonia. We had skipped it on the way down to visit Cueva de Las Manos. No dogs allowed, so Gypsy will wait for us in the truck outside the park.

Niles found a Guanaco skull in this cliff under many layers of fossilized pack rat dung.

We are camped next to the giant windy lake where just one month ago we buried my daughter’s pot to prepare for the border crossing to Chile after camping here for the night. I never thought I’d actively support her smoking but we have seen her be able to regulate her mood with it and without it. Many people we have met on this trip smoke instead of drink or do both. All has been in moderation. Different culture.

Patching together Wifi access after Google Fi cut off in El Calafate. School has been an access problem for Niles.

A camp behind a gas station with WiFi
I think Niles should have no problem identifying challenges in his life and how he is addressing them.
PE in El Chalten, Patagonia
Exploring Cuevo de Las Manos
Placing a board to close the broken window in our truck, broken by wind.
Father and son bonding
Dog and boy bonding

Today we made a contract with Niles to allow us to check his work before submitting it to his teachers and we have as parents gotten deeper into his curriculum to help him crawl out of a couple of really poor grades. Luckily, they are due to poor access and time allowed for assignments rather than intelligence. He has the goal of returning to the states and bring with buddies as a Sophomore so, he is motivated.

2 thoughts on “Homeschooling on the road”

  1. Pete (your mother’s cousin……son of Howard and Lynn Thompson) and I are enjoying reading about your adventures! We live in Forest Lake, MN. We have 3 kids. Our daughter (Lisa Thompson) and her husband Andy Richardson were in the Peace Corps in Mauritania and Gabon. They took their 2 sons to South Korea where they taught in an International School for 3 years and to Accra, Ghana where they also taught at an International School for 6 years. They are now living near Northfield, MN. Lisa is a principal at a Korean Immersion School in St. Paul. Andy is a teacher. Their son Espen (23)is a student at St. Olaf college. Their son Kai (21) is working this year. Our son Brian Thompson and his wife Melissa Chawla are lawyers in Minneapolis. They have 2 kids. Sophia (19) is a freshman at the U of MN. Oliver (15) is a freshman in high school. Brian spent a year in Japan 25 years ago. Melissa’s Mom grew up in the Philippines and her Dad grew up in India. Our daughter Andrea lives in Goshen, IN and she was an exchange student in Norway her Sr. year of high school. Andrea’s daughter, Susan (19) is a freshman at IUSB. Susan traveled to Spain and Puerto Rico recently! Pete’s brother Dick’s granddaughter Leah Thompson is also 19 and going to college in Richland, WA. So…….your “Thompson relatives” have also been lots of places!


    1. Thank you so much for sharing all of this family information with me. I had no idea we all loved to travel so much!
      Your grandkids are the same age as our kids or a little older. It would be incredible if they could all meet at some point. One problem with traveling families is that they end up living far from each other.
      When is the last time you saw my mom?


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