Mary Hood, Ph.D.
Most homeschooling mothers pend a lot of time in their cars, driving their kids to and from a variety of classes and
events. Before discussing how to make the
most of the time you spend in this manner,
I’d like to encourage you to try to spend less
time in your cars and more at home!
Moms tend to want the best for each of
their kids, naturally. When little Johnny
wants to play baseball, and his younger
brothers long to join in, and the girls are
off to dance classes, and the whole family
needs to go a church activity, and the older
three are taking outside classes while the
youngest ones need to be at their play date,
things can quickly get way out of control!
I think moms need to consider the overall balance of their family, including their
own sanity. If each child has the “right mix”
of activities for them, but it winds up with
you spending all your time driving them
around (sometimes with a toddler in the
back seat), you might need to re-think some
priorities, and have the kids take turns with
their involvement in outside activities.
That being said, there are ways to make
car riding more enjoyable and even a little
bit educational. First, during those short
rides around town, you can have some interaction in subject areas, without the use
of workbooks. My husband used to enjoy
doing spelling bees in the car. I worked
with them in math by doing “skip counting.” I started with counting by twos up to
twenty four (which is 12 x 2), and worked
all the way through the times table to 12 x
12 is 144. After they became proficient at
that, we started going backwards, and later
worked up to doing multiplication in their
On slightly longer car rides, the kids often enjoyed listening to books on audio, or
doing foreign language lessons. We used
the Pimsleur audio CDs to learn some
Spanish, German, and Russian during car
rides around Atlanta. (Luckily, they were
available at our library, since they are a bit
expensive.) In addition, “mad libs” books,
available at most book stores, are an interesting way to build grammar skills while
having a bit of fun.
When taking vacations, and experiencing really long car rides, there are all kinds
of educational ways to spend the time. Most
people already play the license plate game,
looking for licenses from each of the states.
Another popular way to spend time is the
alphabet game, looking for objects that start
with A, then with B, etc. However, there are
many other ways to learn about the places
you are passing through, especially if you put
a little effort into making plans beforehand.
By writing to the Chambers of Commerce of cities you are passing through,
you can get all kinds of valuable information on places to see and good rest stops to
make on the way. Give yourselves a little
extra time, if you can, and make an effort to
do field trips while on the way to your final
destination. While heading from Atlanta
to Birmingham, we discovered the Anniston History Museum, which we probably
never would have known about otherwise.
It turned into a popular destination for later
day trips. Headed from Atlanta to Chattanooga, we learned about the Tellus Science
Museum, the Sunrise Planetarium, the
Making the Most of Your
Time in the Car
When taking vacations, and experiencing really long car rides,
there are all kinds of educational ways to spend the time.