Radford family takes homeschooling on the road for cross-country pandemic adventure

RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) – Last year many families had to get creative when it came to their kids’ education. And for one Radford family, they decided to take homeschooling to a whole new level by hitting the road.

With three kids, a dog and a cat, the heads decided there was more to see during lockdown than the inside of their home.

Eight-year-old triplets Nora, Anna, and Ella Kopf are a hoot!

“Oh look, I have egg on [my shirt] from my breakfast,” Nora said making her sisters erupt in giggles.

They were all too excited to show off their national park shirts and badges from the incredible adventure they had as a family.

“She got Grand Canyon,” Ella said pointing to Anna’s shirt.

“Which I love.” Anna said.

“This is a junior ranger badge,” Nora said pointing to the national park pin on her shirt.

Last year during the pandemic, mom Leah Kopf tried to keep up with all the girls’ classes and homework, but it was a challenge.

“I had three different teachers, three different sets of assignments,” Kopf said. “That was making me a little bit crazy. So I decided to do some research on my own and figure out what we needed to do to homeschool.”

What she found was that if she could teach them at home, she could also teach them on the road.

“We really wanted to travel so that’s how we got into homeschooling,” she said.

The heads spent more than 100 days in 2020 in their camper. And they just got back from another 83 days on the road this summer.

“Twenty national parks, a number of state parks and national monuments,” Kopf said. “Just exploring the outdoors and learning through life experiences, which is important for us.”

Each of the girls had their favorite stops along the way.

“My favorite thing was Yosemite,” Nora said.

“Probably Zion because I liked the waterfalls,” Anna added.

“I liked the hot springs,” Ella said.

And they discovered some perks to homeschooling along the way.

“I loved it ’cause I got to pick my favorite subject first so I always got to do math first,” Ella said.

“It’s much better sitting in a beanbag chair than in a hard plastic chair,” Anna said and her sisters all agreed.

They even learned lessons you can’t teach from a textbook.

“Since the pandemic happened, I got to see my dad more and my mom more,” Ella said.

“Not every day is like Disney, but when you travel, you get to see new places and you don’t usually get to do that where you live,” Nora said.

And they also learned things best taught by mom and dad.

“My mom and dad say that when we get to go back, it might not mean as much to us as a kid right now, but when we grow up and get to visit these places again it’s going to mean so much,” Nora said .

“I didn’t ever think that we would have this kind of time, so we really took the lemons of the pandemic and turned it into lemonade and made it work in our family,” Kopf said. “So I’m happy about the experience and I hope the girls are too.”

Kopf has her own travel agency, Magic in the Sun Travel, and her husband is a Radford University professor. Because there wasn’t a lot of work for her and his classes were all virtual, that’s what gave them the flexibility to travel the country.

While the girls are looking forward to going back to public school this year, they said the memories they made last year will not be going away any time soon.

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