Vacations as Learning Experiences

You may have already taken a summer vacation or be getting ready to head out in the near future. Whichever it is rest assured any place you travel, as well as, the journey can be a wonderful learning experience. The preparation needed can be as simple as making sure your children have books, paper, pencils, pens and crayons. Of course, you can also equip your children with cameras  and computing devices to use to document the trip and what they have seen. Maps are also wonderful tools for children to look at and write on as a trip progresses. I also recommend that you give your child their own spending allowance to manage for items like snacks and souvenirs. This is a phenomenal way for a child to learn about money management and for you as a parent to see how they handle autonomy. Also, don’t forget the usefulness of keeping a simple diary or journal of things seen and done.

Road Trip – My children loved to play games involving spotting cars or trucks. These ranged from how many cars of each color were on the road to how many different state’s license plates they could spot. As they tallied the figures up and discovered the most popular color car or the license plate they had least expected to see, they were using basic math skills.  Children also like to keep track of where they are located and where the next stopping point is by using a map. Reading maps covers a wealth of material from math to geography and science because if encouraged children get very interested in topography and the location of bodies of water. If your road trip crosses state lines and different regions in the United States, there is a lot of history to be learned from items as simple as observing signs about historical sites to noticing the differences in favorite foods of the locals. A simple discussion in Virginia answering what are grits and where do they come from covers history and science. As your trip progresses or when you return home, children love to create their own memory books or start projects based on something new they have discovered.

Air Travel – Taking children on a plane is similar to a road trip without the luxury of other vehicles and scenery to observe. Just discussing the necessity of airport security and how an airplane works covers a wealth of learning opportunities. My children loved to read and draw so on the few occasions we flew as a family this kept them occupied. I often found it helpful to let them read about our destination and plan activities while on the flight instead of weeks in advance, as this helped to pass the time. Once you arrive at your destination new learning opportunites occur each day in relaxed and fun ways.

We all store knowledge along with our memories when we travel. I know to this day when I travel that keeping a journal not only brings to mind the things I saw and did more vividly but it also reminds me of the things and places I did not have the opportunity to discover more about. Capturing one’s feelings and impressions in the moment offers a wealth of information and makes for great post trip family discussions, which lead to more learning and future travel plans.

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