I’d love to know how many other people are looking at homeschooling with model trains. A few years ago it seemed like model trains were only for old-timers, but these days more and more tweens and teens are reviving this hobby.
It’s not a cheap hobby if you’re starting from scratch. Some people see limited value in model trains, but I think this hobby can be very educational. The National Model Railroad Association has a great article about the value of model trains. From a homeschool standpoint, I’m really excited to try model trains as part of our children’s education.
I just happen to be pretty close to someone who’s been collecting model trains for about 80 years. My dad collects HO scale model trains. Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that my children have a stronger relationship with family and community members. My son’s interest in model trains connects him with his grandparents.
Our local community has a train museum and historic trains that run between several cities for special events, like Christmas. There are no bathrooms on the train. I avoid combining small children with zero bathroom access, so I haven’t had a chance to take the train yet.
Hobbies are a way to connect to people in your community.
My son used to love his Thomas the Tank Engine trains and Geotrax when he was little, but now that he’s older, he became interested in trains again as a result of studying history. Trains had a big impact on US society as the railway lines expanded across our country. As we studied the transcontinental railroad, his interest in trains increased all over again. As he
plays does grown-up man stuff with model trains, he learns about real historical trains and all that goes with that. This involves a hefty dose of research. I required my son to do a state report in 4th grade. He complied with the enthusiasm of a wet noodle. Researching trains? He’s all over it.
Historical trains ran through certain areas of the country. Model train fans research where the trains ran, what kind of terrain they went over, and which states or countries they ran through. One of the train-related games we play is Ticket To Ride. We can finish a game in about a half hour, so it’s easy to fit into our day.
Did you know that model trains involve quite a bit of modeling? Not only can you put the model trains together, but you also build models of all the scenery for the trains to go by. I watched my dad do this when I was growing up.
Manual skills are a lost art these days. But not if you’re into model trains.
So this is kind of long but I promise that it eventually has something to do with socialization. When I was in fourth grade in California, I had to do a model of a Spanish mission. I chose a mission (it was Santa Ines) researched its historical appearance, and made my model. The model wasn’t exactly to scale, but it was pretty close, and I used a variety of artistic techniques to reproduce the look of weather plaster and terracotta tiles. It was an awesome model.
Unfortunately, it was so good that the teacher refused to believe that I made it myself. And I had made it myself, except for a few cuts that required power tools. I’d learned by watching my dad do his model trains. My dad gave me some ideas for what materials to use, but the actual assembly and painting were all done by 10-year-old me. I used my modeling skills to build prop and costume replicas when I got older and ended up meeting my husband through that hobby.
So, in a way, I got married and had three kids because of model trains.
There are so many friends you can meet in model trains, and they’re from all backgrounds. Boys can have trouble finding friends these days, and model trains are a healthy way to get them together with other kids their age. It’s becoming more popular, and there are even YouTube channels with teens doing model trains. NSmodeler24 does HO gauge and has a lot of videos with some big layouts.
Model trains involve a lot of electricity. Stripping wires, checking voltage, and all that stuff. I never learned that part. My son is all over it. My dad has some older trains that cannot handle a lot of amps, so I’m hearing about this topic a lot lately.
Besides the electricty, there are a lot of mechnical parts involved with model trains. Plus, in real life and in models, they go over bridges and through structures, all of which need to be built properly.
Model trains – real model trains, not the toys – are built to scale. There are multiple different scales available. If you want to start with model trains, you probably want to go with HO. It’s built with a ratio of 1:87.
When you lay out a model train track, you have to plan it carefully.