If you’re going to do the school thing remotely, can you think of a better backdrop than this one? We love Orange Beach! Whether you’re homeschooling or virtual schooling (or still trying to figure that all out) I want to encourage you to take it on the road!
Even before the virus, roadschooling has been our life. We travel several weeks a month, and the boys have never been to a formal school. If you’re a homeschool family already, your world might look something like ours already.
If “virtual learning” is new for you and your family…or you are dipping your toes into the homeschool world just this year…we want to encourage you to take your learning on the road – near and far. It’s easy, and a heck of a lot more fun.
Where to Stay When Roadschooling
Every family has a different way of homeschooling…it’s a continuum that runs between a very strict scheduled itinerary of classes and a free-flow, hands-off approach to everyday life.
We fall more toward the “free-flow” side, but there is absolutely no wrong answer. The point is to just recognize where you are, identify your needs, and then find a place that can accommodate them.
If you ask us, Orange Beach is the ideal place to visit (can you ever go wrong at the beach?) and Spectrum Resorts is the place to stay. Our last roadschooling adventure was with Turquoise Place, and it was unbeatable. Let me tell you why.
High-speed, reliable Internet means that attending a virtual class (or working virtually) will not be a problem. In fact, Dan and I worked online one evening at the same time that the boys were on Zoom, and there was no delays for any of us.
If your kids need to be on a Zoom call during the day for their distance learning, don’t plan a trip to the Everglades. I love State and National Parks, but save those for a time when unplugging is encouraged. Pick a condo or hotel where you can trust the internet connection will work – and work well.
If you have four kids that need to Zoom every day, then don’t rent the 14ft RV for your trip…even if it is super cute and crazy affordable.
When school is in session, this condo offers the perfect amount of quiet privacy for focus and concentration.
The multi-bedroom, large layout means every kids can have their own room to Zoom in, study in, spread their books around, and more.
Elliot was taking JiuJitsu online (headphone don’t work in this situation) while Cooper was watching a Facebook Live from the Audubon Society… no problem! With their own rooms, both kids were happy with the doors shut (while I soaked in hot tub on the deck…with zero guilt.)
We stayed in a 3-bedroom that was (and I am not joking here) the same size as our house (sans basement.) It’s huge for a rental! There are also 4- and 5- bedroom options available for larger families or multi-generational/multi-family trips.
The kitchen is also huge, so serving a 3rd breakfast and 7th lunch is no issue. (Anyone else have kids like this?)
We used the grill several times while there. It’s so nice and big, with a gorgeous view of the beach.
I mentioned this already, but worth mentioning again…the hot tub. Every rental at Turquoise Place includes a hot tub facing the Gulf. Besides all the obvious reasons this is amazing, it’s also a great place for the kids to chill between virtual classes…while they are waiting to head down to the beach.
Spectrum’s Clean Bed Guarantee – each bed is prepped with a freshly laundered duvet for every check in. I know you wish other hotels did that…but they don’t. During this time in our lives, cleanliness is everything.
The pools are also an added plus. There is a kiddie pool, and main pool (with outdoor dining and bar), an indoor pool and a lazy river. Yes, people, a lazy river!
These were great options when we needed a beach break, but they are also good when you have only a 30-ish minute break. You can get some exercise, splash in water, have a little fun…but avoid having to deal with the sand from the beach before the next video call. Easy in, easy out.
Finally, I am not going to lie, the very best amenity of all is….THE BEACH!
It’s the perfect recess…it’s the perfect way to unwind when studies are finished…it’s perfect in every single way. And…it’s an elevator ride away.
Sometimes, you don’t even have to wait until “studies are over.” The daily beach chair rentals are comfy and shaded, and make the perfect place to read a book – for fun or for school! (see ours above)
Picking a Roadschool Location
Can life-learning happen anywhere at any time? Absolutely – my brainiac kiddos are proof of that. But when you pick a destination with tons of fun, educational activities…it’s even better.
Why? Because homeschooling parents can always use a little help, and hands-on learning sticks with kids longer than book-learning. They internalize the information and make it part of their lives.
Here are a sampling of “edu-tainment” options Orange Beach offers.
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
The Gulf Coast Zoo offers a multitude of educational opportunities, and it’s almost all outside so you don’t have to worry about being able to maintain a 6ft-spread from others. It’s easy-peasy.
Three highlights of our recent visit?
First, we happened to visit at the same time that the baby kangaroos’ keeper was in the pen with them. She told us all about the kangaroos. The littlest one still likes to be held in his “pouch” so she showed us how he topples into it…I almost died from the cuteness.
Second, we made sure to visit during one of the giraffe feedings! The boys were able to feed lettuce to two of the zoo’s giraffes. 8yo “Big Ben” and his companion 4yo Akayla are gentle giants and a world of fun.
Third, the butterfly house is sensational. This isn’t a live butterfly encounter but a collection of thousands of butterflies and moths on display. They are a delight to see and learn about, and the colors are glorious.
Sail Wild Hearts
Can you really learn from any experience? Yes, yes you can! We took an evening sunset catamaran cruise with Sail Wild Hearts and it was epic.
We searched to water for dolphins, we saw our condo towers from far away, and we loved watching the sun set on the horizon.
The entire cruise is about 1.5 hours, and includes soft drinks and light snacks (cookies, chips, veggies and hummus, etc) You’re welcome to bring your own adult beverages (no glass).
The captain also picked a few kids (including Elliot) to drive the boat for a while – he loved that! But the kids spent most of their time at the front of the boat, taking it all in (see the boys above with a homeschool friend of theirs that was visiting the beach at the same time we were)
While we were sailing, Cooper asked why the wind pushed the sails on the side, but the boat moved forward. Wow! I kid you not, a parent cannot ask for a more perfect roadschooling question.
Dan (a boater himself) talked to Cooper about the physics of sailing, about how sail boats can move faster than the wind, about how you sail upwind to make that happen, about the power of the keel — and how a catamaran doesn’t have one. And that was the tip of the iceberg, facilitating discussion topics that lasted for days.
The first tip for this section – take this catamaran cruise. It’s worth every penny.
The second tip? Don’t assume that “fun” and “learning” are polar extremes. When you can look at it through different glasses, they are kissing cousins!
Other Orange Beach Ideas
General Roadschooling Tips on Insta
While we were with Spectrum, I shared a few general roadschoolings tips. If you want to see more info on each one, just click through (and follow us for even more fun adventures!)
- Leverage your location
- Bring resources with you that complement your location
- Work within your own boundaries, not someone else’s
- “Fun” and “Learning” are Kissing Cousins (when you listen)
- You don’t have to do all the teach yourself
- The only way to fail is to avoid trying
- When on the road, skip a schedule and embrace a routine
- Remember to take care of yourself
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Disclosure: Thanks to Spectrum Resorts and their GSOB partners for hosting us on this roadschool adventure. Opinions here are always our own.
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