For TTS6 Alumna and Bozeman photographer Mikaela DiBerardinis, The Traveling School established a new perspective on minimalist travel, transformative education, and how she wants to raise her family.
Read the Diberardinis’ (Mikaela, Gino, Gianna, Miela, Pia and Luccia) story about changing gears after the pandemic and taking her family of 4 girls on the road to do life (and school!) a little differently.
Thank you, Mikaela, for sharing glimpses of your ‘Little Traveling School’ with us. We are so grateful your TTS semester impacted your life path so deeply!
By Mikaela DiBerardinis
Around here I call it “Road School” and when I say ‘here,’ I mean anywhere we end up.
When the pandemic began, we saw this as an opportunity to be with our kids and really learn about our country.
I never imagined homeschooling my kids even when I got pregnant with my 4th girl. I was like “No way, I love working and enjoying my kids for the fun stuff.”
My youngest daughter was born a week before spring break of 2020. I had BIG business plans for my Birth Photography clients and collaborations. I was going to take off work until May and get right back at it.
Well, my kids never went back to school after spring break and still have not gone back to school. The kicker is, we kind of love it.
I hope to give you a glimpse of my version of The Traveling School, or “Roadschool,” with the DiBerardinis Family.
We began this journey with a very rough camper we scored for fairly cheap. PS… I vowed never to own a camper, I was a TTS girl and I only camped in tents. Funny how life is right?! We had not intended to live in it or travel or anything like that, just casual weekend camping at our local secret spot. We ended up renovating it, because we literally had to, it was cheap for a reason!
Somewhere between buying it and homeschooling beginning for the second time, we decided homeschooling from a beach sounded way better than from a cold COVIDy Bozeman.
We love Bozeman in the winter, but we loved doing things like The Museum of the Rockies and the Library. Unfortunately, we have an immune compromised kiddo and her life was not something we were willing to risk for a trip to the museum or elsewhere indoors.
So, here I am sitting at a laundry mat in northern Arizona creating a short version of a memoir plus a lot of photos of the last few months on the road.
Initially, I had a super set plan of all the things we were going to see and where we were going to go and we realized some places were worth staying a few extra days and some were worth just passing through.
I was trying to plan a curriculum around each place and the route (aka TTS!) and realized that that part was way more daunting to execute than to dream up in my head. We also ran into a few setbacks of school on the road as well as work on the road. Relying on the internet, or cell service, is oftentimes not a reality. That was set back number one and the very moment I ditched our plan.
It was the best thing I ever gave up on. A set in stone plan. That sounds kind of reckless of me, but having a plan was almost harder than rolling with it, pun very much intended. We accomplish school when we can, and enjoy the world outside our door when we are given the opportunity.
We chose a few different online programs to keep our girls on track if we ever send them back to traditional school. We had to pay for the programs and honestly, the kids don’t love them, but we all help each other out by checking in on our moods. “What’s good?” We ask each other, it maintains a positive perspective.
Another big part of this and their “education” is stopping to read the informational sign or the plaque on the statue. How many of you walk by things like this daily and have no idea what it’s about? We have all learned a lot from just slowing down to read the sign. Literally.
Raising girls on the road is still as hard as it would be at home, they still complain about dinner and they still pick fights with each other. The biggest change we have seen is them really being themselves and us getting to know them as that. We should all “know” our kids but when you live in less than 200 square feet plus the extended cab of a pickup truck, you REALLY get to know your kids. What makes them tick, what lights them up and brings them down.
Watching Pia, our 4-year-old, jumping up and down and running around with her arms out like she was flying while we watched little planes land and take off at the airport overlooking Sedona one afternoon, was worth every cup of instant coffee I have drank for the last several months. I mean, I had no idea planes made her THAT excited. Her smile was everything!
I have curated a photo essay of our trip thus far and I hope it inspires you to get out and explore. Please join me for a live instagram take over of our wild adventures while I help spread the word about the Give Big event which is helping Traveling Students like I was, pay their tuition via the scholarship fund and travel while getting a top notch education!